National Geographic Bird Watcher's Bible: A Complete Treasury

Edited by Jonathan Alderfer. National Geographic (, $40 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4262-0964-2
Close to 10,000 species of bird currently waddle, sing, peck, and soar around the world, and while Alderfer (National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America, co-author) and his team don't address each one of them, they sure come close in this elegant study of all things avian—from basic bird anatomy, to courtship and nesting rituals, as well as the role of birds in ancient cultures and as a source of food. Incorporating stunning photographs , vintage prints, and a short history of birds in art and the naturalists (such as James Audubon) who contributed to some of ornithology's most seminal works, the book is worth the price of admission for purely visual reasons, though readers will find the text equally rewarding. Pleasant diversions—like tales of Mao Zedong's botched campaign to rid China of sparrows (which resulted in a dramatic increase in crop-devouring locusts), Mozart's pet starling, and the real-life event that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds—sit comfortably alongside more practical bird-related information, including tips on choosing the right feeder and an extensive guide for beginner bird-watchers. A tome to be treasured at home and in the wild. Photos & illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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