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The Book of Eggs: A Lifesize Guide to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World's Bird Species

Art / PhotobookFlora / Fauna

Series: The Book Of... Series

By: Mark E Hauber(Author), John Bates(Editor), Barbara Becker(Editor)

655 pages, colour photos, b/w illustrations, colour distribution maps

The Ivy Press

Hardback | Apr 2014 | #211070 | ISBN-13: 9781782400479
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £29.99 $40/€34 approx

About this book

Featuring new photography from Chicago's renowned Field Museum, The Book of Eggs explores 600 examples at actual size, alongside pattern details, clutch images, breeding range maps, and engravings of all the birds. A table of field-guide information identifies order, family, breeding range, nesting habitat, nest characteristics, and conservation status. This accompanies an expert narrative revealing the latest research and thinking on social structure; reproductive strategies; egg colour, maculation, and size; and incubation behaviour. Arranged taxonomically, according to evolutionary relationships, The Book of Eggs brings to light intriguing aspects of breeding biology. The result is a visual delight and an essential reference for every bird enthusiast, natural historian, and conservationist.


"[...] Altogether, this book achieves a fine synergy between informative text and beautiful photographs. My only trifling criticism is that placing the eggs on a black rather than a white background would have made their lustre and beauty stand out still more."
- Adrian Barnett, New Scientist, 13-05-2014

"This big book is the equivalent of a guided tour through the Bird Division of Chicago's Field Museum. It presents the eggs of six hundred species in color and at actual size and includes surprises, such as the immense egg of the long-gone Great Elephantbird, the tallest and heaviest bird ever to walk the planet [...] An excellent introduction explains egg anatomy, physiology, size, shape, coloring, nests, and breeding strategies."
- Birdwatching

"A fabulous reference book, every image in lovely color – one image of the egg actual size and one of the egg larger, for detail –  with sketches of the birds and maps showing territory. It's fascinating to leaf through, and affirming: On every page, it's spring!"
- Minneapolis Star Tribune


"The Book of Eggs, a hard-cover tome of c. 650 pages is exactly what it professes to be – a celebration of the diversity of bird eggs based on the collections housed at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in California.

Following brief chapters on such aspects as egg physiology, the adaptive value of size, shape and patterning, nests, breeding strategies and nest parasitism, there is a one page account per species with a close-up view of the egg, an actual size photograph, some basic facts and a short description of the most interesting aspects of the species’ ecology. This is neither a guide nor a reference and has a distinctly North American bias, although not completely so. It is not clear how the 600 species (of 1600 in the collections) were selected and there are, for example, no photos of the amazingly patterned eggs of some Old World shrikes. Slight quibbles include the missed opportunity to present photographs showing the intraspecific variance in eggs and the lack of contrast in some range maps.

Also, use of the Clements Checklist means searching for many European species under ‘Common’ or ‘Eurasian’. Nevertheless, the overall look is uncluttered and attractive with the focus very much on the photographs of eggs."

– David Noble, BTO book reviews, September 2014

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