Review: Atlas of Birds

atlasofbirdsAtlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation by Mike Unwin
Princeton University Press, 2011

A beautiful, fascinating geographic overview of birds, how they live, where they live, and how they are impacted by humans. “This atlas aims to illuminate our understanding of birds in terms of geography. It looks at their biology, their conservation status, and their importance to both humankind and the wider environment, in a global context.” p. 7

atlasofbirds passerinesFrontmatter p. 7
Part One: Introduction to Birds p. 12
Part Two: Where Birds Live p. 20
Part Three: Birds in Order p. 42
Part Four: How Birds Live p. 62
Part Five: Birds and People p. 84
Part Six: Birds Under Threat p. 98
Part Seven: Protecting Birds p. 116
Part Eight: Bird Table p. 128
Endmatter p. 138

Succinct descriptions and discussion paragraphs are paired with full color graphs, charts, statistics, and maps. Facts are illustrated with photographs of individual bird species which highlight a fact such as Island Diversity (p. 25) or Delta Damage (p. 105)

“BirdLIfe International has identified more than 10,000 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) around the world” p. 7 Details such as where IBAs are specifically are not included in the body of the two page chapter on Important Bird Areas. One would need to use Google to find more information on this specific topic. The Atlas does provide good world and continent maps with highlighted areas for protected and unprotected IBAs.

atlasofbirds bird taxonomyThe section “Birds in Order” I found particularly useful since I have difficulties remember which order which specific bird is part of. The section describes the taxonomic orders of birds. Each order section includes distribution maps, habitat details, and species examples.

In the other sections topics are as diverse as “Living Together,” “Putting Birds to Use,” “Extinction,” and “Flyways.” The complete table of contents can be found on Amazon via their “Look inside” feature.

As you can see from the abbreviated table of contents, much of this book, pages 84-137 are focused on how birds and people interact and how that interaction has both endangered and protected. Every page is highlighted with maps, photographs, and graphics.

Definitely a book worth adding to your library if you are interested in conservation or maps. And if you are like me, want a better understanding of the taxonomic orders of birds.

— Jenny

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