A Complete Treasury
By Jonathan Alderfer (Editor)
National Geographic Society, Hardcover, 9781426209642, 399pp.
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
A lighthearted and broadly cultural and visual approach to learning everything there is to know about birds, bird-watching, birds in history and the arts, and life on the wing. Short narrative pieces are interspersed with sidebars, quotes, top-ten lists, and how-to instructions. Illustrated with photographs, contemporary and archival art, maps, and diagrams, the book has lots of cross-references and riches to find on every page.
I. The Birds in your World
A lively introduction featuring the joys of birds and bird-watching, how birds are everywhere you look, why people enjoy and appreciate them, why they are so amazing and so beloved, and why they have been important to every culture throughout history.
II. The Anatomy of a Bird
A lyrical dissection of the parts of a bird, including digressions on feathers, color, beaks, wings, talons. Size and shape variations and how they respond to environment and evolution. What birds eat and how they eat it.
III. Birds Through the Ages
Birds in ancient and native cultures. Bird myths, legends, and superstitions. Bird gods and goddesses. Famous birds in history such as Caesar's death foretold, St. Francis's Sermon to the Birds, Poe's Raven, Mao Tse Tung's sparrow campaign. Birds as pets, birds as hunting aids, birds as food.
IV. The Life of a Bird
The life cycle of birds, starting with mating behaviors of all sorts of species. Nesting behaviors. Varieties of nests, varieties of eggs.
V. Science Discovers the Bird
Early ornithologists. Catesby, Darwin, Audubon, Peterson. Famous bird artists. Famous bird quests. Bird evolution: birds and dinosaurs.
VI. Birds on the Wing
Flight and how it works. Migration -- how, why, when, where. Maps and amazing facts about bird migrations.
VII. To Be a Birder
Basics including bird-watching, bird taxonomy, how to use a field guide. Simple bird-watching rules of thumb. Where to go, when to go. Equipment needed. Keeping a life list.
VIII. Bringing the Birds Back Home
Attraction and conservation. Birdhouses, bird feeders, bird baths, bird seed choices, protecting birds from predator animals in your neighborhood. National and international conservation efforts. The future of birds.
“The book is worth the price of admission for purely visual reasons, though readers will find the text equally rewarding” –Publisher’s Weekly starred review
"This book is a treasure trove of colorful paintings and photographs, interesting sidebars, top-ten lists... worth its considerable price for the artwork alone. A browser’s delight... This book should have wide appeal for all birders and bird enthusiasts. Highly recommended." –Library Journal
“Captivating photographs with art, fantastic bits of trivia and history, anatomy lessons, tips on becoming a birder...” –Denver Post
“It easily ranks with the top three or four bird books published in 2012.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Bird fanciers will find much to like and learn about in this beautiful book.” –The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)
“A pictorial feast...clear, witty prose…if one were looking for a single volume to serve as a basic reference, Bird Watcher's Bible would be it.” –Examiner.com
"Beautifully illustrated and full of fascinating facts." –Book News
“Even for nonbirders… surprisingly readable… interesting bird facts, how-to hints, folklore and history. The beautiful illustrations are a treat.” –Metro.US.com
"...in the upper echelons of aesthetic appeal." –10000 Birds blog
"Everything that is great about National Geographic jumps out at you…Filled with jaw-dropping visuals…one of the most beautiful and informative bird books out there.” –Bird Freak blog
"This book is a great addition to any birder's collection and would make a very nice Christmas present!" –Nutty Birder blog
“The breadth of topics covered is staggering…This is a very attractive book, which makes it all the more pleasurable to pore over.” –The Birder’s Library
“Belongs in every bird watcher’s library.” –Laura’s Birding Blog