Bird Habitats in Ireland

Richard Nairn & John O’Halloran
The Collins Press, Cork 2012
ISBN: 978-1-8488-9138-8

NB: This is a second review for this book and is not the one published in BTO News. That one is reproduced elsewhere on this web page.

Extremely Rare Birds in the Western Palearctic

Marcel Haas
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2012
ISBN: 978-8-4965-5383-5

This book catalogues records of 155 bird species recorded fewer than ten times in the Western Palearctic during 1800–2008, with full references and more than 300 photographs of the birds themselves. There is a short introduction to each species, which also mentions records up to August 2010. Rarity within such a vast area is a complex topic, compounding true vagrancy with short-distance dispersal along the region’s long and remote land boundaries.

Bialowieza Site Guide: Where to watch birds and large mammals of the Bialowieza Forest

Łukasz Mazurek & Tomasz Jezierczuk
Wild Poland Site Guides, 2012
ISBN: 978-8-3928-7572-7

A very detailed and richly illustrated guide book to this last remaining remnant of the primeval forest that once covered Europe. 59 sites are presented, with excellent maps and hints on where to look for the target species – many such as owls and woodpeckers are unlikely to be happened upon without this kind of information. Bison, wolves and lynx and the other large mammals are not forgotten either. The authors obviously really know their stuff and the guide almost tells you what tree to look in at a couple of points!


Kim Todd
Reaktion Books, London 2012
ISBN: 978-1-8618-9875-3

This book explores the lives of sparrows in their global existence (they are the most widespread wild birds in the world). I was surprised to learn they live in the Arctic, in deserts, and in cities from the Far East to the Americas, although in many of these places they have been introduced by man. Some nest in buildings and airports close to humans, while others choose trees or grassy meadows, and some have even been found living in a coal mine. The author is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing, and she uses this knowledge to the full in several chapters.

How to Be a Better Birder

Derek Lovitch
Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford. 2012
ISBN: 978-0-6911-4448-1

Field guides generally help to identify birds solely by looking at plumage patterns and colours. This book shows that there are several other things that can help you identify a bird: where you are, what habitat you are in, what time of year you are observing, as well as behaviour and even making allowances for the weather. In other words, what we on this side of the Atlantic often known as ‘jizz’ along with an understanding of ecology and natural history.

A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore

Allen Jeyarajasingam & Alan Pearson
Oxford University Press 2012 (2012)
ISBN: 978-0-1996-3942-7

A second edition of this landmark publication and featuring two new plates. A huge number of changes have occurred since the publication of the original including, encouragingly, many gaps in knowledge being filled in the interim period. This is an essential purchase for anyone birding in the area.

An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology

N B Davies, JR Krebs & Stuart A West
Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4443-3949-9

The latest edition in this standard textbook. Although aimed at undergraduates, this book is engagingly written and in an accessible style that anybody keen to learn more about this fascinating facet would find a great place to start.

Birds of Aruba, CuraÇao and Bonaire

Bart de Boer, Eric Newton & Robin L Restall
Christopher Helm, London 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4081-3727-7

The first ever comprehensive field guide to focus on the area (the western Lesser Antilles off the coast of Venezuela). A useful little book to pop into your suitcase and with multiple images of each species depicting various plumages the book will be useful, although the illustrations are perhaps not up to the standard we have come to expect from field guides. There are no distribution maps but a checklist/table at the back list which species has been recorded from which island

Birds of Sri Lanka

Deepal Warakagoda, Carol Inskipp, Tim P Inskipp & Richard F A Grimmett.
Christopher Helm, London 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7136-8853-5

Perhaps surprisingly this is the first Helm guide to Sri Lanka and the book itself is the perfect size for the traveller. Super illustrations depict many of the expected plumages and clear distribution maps occur next to the plates. The book also contains a brief introduction to habitats on the island as well as a site guide.

Interspecific Competition in Birds

André A Dhondt
Oxford University Press 2012
ISBN: 978-0-1995-8901-2

 A scholarly addition to the Oxford Avian Biology Series, this exhaustive review looks at the poorly understood topic of interactions between different species, which fall mainly into three categories: predation, competition and mutualism. Understanding the importance of interspecific competition in natural systems will be increasingly important when modelling the effects of climate change on populations.

Ecology, Conservation and Management of Grouse. Studies in Avian Biology no.39

Brett K Sandercock, Kathy Martin & Gernot Segelbacher
University of California Press, London. 2011
ISBN: 978-0-5202-7006-0

Members of the grouse family, ranging from Ptarmigan and Capercaillie through to the Prairie Chickens and Sage Grouse occur right across the Northern Hemisphere. Economically important and with vast areas of land managed to boost their numbers it comes as no surprise that much work has been done studying all aspects of their life cycles. This volume, from Universty of California Press, presents many papers with a predominantly American focus, but with many conclusions relevant for anyone working on grouse.

The Feathery Tribe: Robert Ridgway and the Modern Study of Birds

Daniel Lewis
Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2012
ISBN: 978-0-3001-7552-3

Despite its ‘fluffy’ sounding title, this book is an absorbing biography of one of America’s most important natural scientists. Ridgway was the first curator of birds at the Smithsonian Institute at a time when the development of modern thinking about birds, ecology and evolution was in its infancy. This backdrop sets a lively stage on which the very way we study birds was being chiselled out of the haphazard and ego-driven bird studies that had preceded Ridgway. A fascinating read.

The Ruffled Edge: Notes from a Nature Warden

Pete Howard
Brambleby Books. 2012
ISBN: 978-1-9082-4106-1

A little book for a rainy afternoon – the memoirs of a nature warden takes us on a journey through the diverse habitats on Britain and the many incredible animals that live there.

The True Shrikes (Laniidae) of the World: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution

E N Panov
Pensoft Publishers, Moscow 2011
ISBN: 978-9-5464-2576-8

Many groups of species have a dedicated monograph, but few can match this title for sheer depth and comprehensiveness. Shrikes are a popular group of birds among birders and ornithologists – they are generally obvious birds in their habits and with their unique lifestyles, but Shrikes add to this with the complexity of their taxonomy.

Bird Habitats in Ireland

Bird Habitats in Ireland

Richard Nairn & John O’Halloran
The Collins Press, Cork 2012
ISBN: 978-1-8488-9138-8

Two outstanding editors; 25 authors; over 300 pages; over 1,000 references; 18 chapters dealing with all the bird habitats in Ireland; hundreds of high-quality photographs: this is a truly remarkable book. Never has a book of this nature been attempted for the island of Ireland.