Birds of the World: A Photographic Guide

ISBN 13: 9781554072415

Birds of the World: A Photographic Guide

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9781554072415: Birds of the World: A Photographic Guide
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One of the most comprehensive single-volume reference works on birds ever produced.

With photographs and descriptions of over 1,300 species, plus a full listing of every bird species in the world, this outstanding reference is an up-to-date portrait of the world birds. An international team of ornithologists provides concise descriptions and reveals the latest science in bird evolution, behavior, ecology, classification and identification. Organized by region and habitat rather than species, the book allows for a more instinctive understanding of birds and their relationships with each other and the environment.

The opening section on bird evolution and anatomy explains species classification and identification, showing how DNA research is causing a re-evaluation of the known science.

The directory makes up the bulk of the book. It is divided into six sections on the Earth's zoogeographical regions. Each section is written by a recognized authority and includes a thorough review of species, habitat and threats, and conservation organizations. Along with specially commissioned artwork, each species description includes:

  • Scientific and common names
  • Physical characteristics, behavior, habitat and distribution
  • Conservation status
  • Similar species, with cross-references.

This superb reference closes with an up-to-date list of the more than 9,800 species of birds recognized by ornithologists.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Andrew Gosler, PhD, is the editor of Ibis, the journal of the British Ornithologists Union. He is university research lecturer in ornithology at Oxford University.

Chris Perrins, PhD, is professor of ornithology at Oxford University. The editor of the authoritative Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds, he was appointed Her Majesty's Swan Warden.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

This book has three main aims. The first is, overwhelmingly, to be a celebration of birds. As such, we hope to present the reader with an overview of the world of birds -- a world of diverse sights and sounds, which is often colorful and exciting, but which is always intriguing. The second is to provide, in one volume, a guide that will give a feeling for the diversity of birds worldwide. The birds are presented by regions so that the relationships and similarities between the species of any region and those of any other might be recognized; in short, to place each species in a global context. Details are also provided on how to identify, at least, many of the commoner species in each region, but while we hope that the book will have some value for this, it is not our main purpose. No single volume can cover all of the world's birds adequately for identification purposes, and this is not a fleldguide. Furthermore, the biology of some species (in terms of diet, nest, or even plumages), particularly in the tropics, is very poorly known, and in many cases the geographical distribution has been described only vaguely, but we hope that emphasizing such issues will contribute to our third aim, which is to highlight the threat of extinction faced by so many species today, and to stimulate both a greater interest in, and concern for, birds and their environment In so doing we hope to contribute to their conservation.

We live on a shrinking planet. The ease with which birdwatchers can travel in search of birds increases almost annually as more of our world becomes accessible to tourism. The irony is, however, that often the opening up of areas that previously could be reached only after a long journey on foot or by boat has been possible because of development, such as timber extraction, carried out at the expense of the very habitat needed by the birds. While the majority of birdwatchers live in the developed world, the majority of bird species don't. They live in the primary habitats of the subtropics. Of 9,704 species recognized in this book, some 70% occur wholly or partly in tropical regions and many others that breed at temperate northern latitudes migrate to the tropics to winter. Many of the resident tropical species are highly specialized ecologically with particular requirements for feeding and breeding. Indeed in some respects it is this which allows such great species diversity in these areas, and particularly in the rainforests where 300 species may occur together in / sq km (0.3 sq mile). But this also makes them vulnerable, since they are unable to survive when these complex and diverse ecosystems are changed or lost. Habitat loss is the major threat to birds worldwide and because of the former inaccessibility of such areas, it is often the most endangered species that we know least about. Many species have become extinct in recent times -- birds about whose ecology and behavior we can only guess. The very richness of life, biodiversity, is threatened as never before.

The Evolution of Birds

The introductory pages briefly describe the evolution of birds from their reptilian ancestors, and discuss how the great diversity of birds which we see today has developed over time through natural selection and adaptation. We shall also see how this process has resulted in patterns which we can use to unravel the evolutionary history of birds. These may be patterns of similarities between related species which indicate a common ancestry, or patterns in space in the form of a particular geographical distribution shown by a species or group of species. We shall then see how these patterns can be used to produce a classification of birds that reflects that evolutionary history. The next section introduces the 173 families of birds into which the species are grouped, and gives an overview of characteristics shared by the various members of each family, and states how many species. Throughout the book the families are generally arranged in the order introduced in this section. The remainder, and bulk of the book, presents a representative selection of species by regions, followed by a complete checklist of the world's birds indicating each species that is currently considered by Bird! ife International (the conservation association that monitors the status of birds worldwide) to be globally threatened.

Ornithologists recognize six major zoogeographical regions of the world. Each is defined by the kinds of birds that are found there so that, although there is naturally some overlap in species between these areas, many will be distinct or endemic to that region. The regions are the Nearrtic (North America), the Palaearctic (Eurasia), the Neotropical (South America), the Afrotropical (Africa south of the Atlas mountains), the Oriental (India and Southeast Asia), and the Australasian (Australia, New Guinea, the Pacific Islands, and New Zealand and here also including Antarctica). In addition, the Caribbean is sometimes recognized as distinct from the Neotropical Region, and the Madagascan from the Afrotropical Region, because the bird communities or avifaunas of these areas contain many endemic species and indeed some endemic families. The Palaearctic shares about 12.5% of its breeding species (particularly those with circumpolar distributions) and about 35% of its genera with the Nearctic, so that they are sometimes referred to together as the Holarctic.

Birds by Region

The birds of the six major regions are described by recognized authorities on the birds of each area. Each region is introduced by a short essay that describes the avifauna, its origins, and relationships to the other regions; the principal habitats and threats to them; and organizations involved in the study and conservation of birds in the region. Each bird is identified by both its scientific name and an English or vernacular name. A short description then appears facing its photograph, together with details of its distribution and status worldwide. Where a species occurs in more than one region, this is mentioned in the text although it occurs only once in the book. Similar species, either in the same or a different region, whether they are illustrated in the book or not, are also listed, and where appropriate, a page reference is given. Wherever possible, the photographs have been selected to show not just the plumage of the bird, but also some aspect of its biology. Photographs show adult males unless otherwise stated.

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Published by Firefly Books (2007)
ISBN 10: 1554072417 ISBN 13: 9781554072415
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