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History of Ornithology

MonographOut of Print
Authoritative Account of British Birding

Series: New Naturalist Series Volume: 104

By: Peter Bircham

482 pages, colour illus, b&w photos

Harper Collins

Paperback | Oct 2007 | #151698 | ISBN-13: 9780007199709
Out of Print Details
Hardback | Oct 2007 | #151697 | ISBN-13: 9780007199693
Out of Print Details

About this book

Today the RSPB has over one million members, reflecting the huge interest in birdwatching as a hobby. Over the years the growth in amateur birdwatchers has contributed enormously to our understanding of bird life, behaviour and populations.

But what did we know about birds a thousand years ago and how has our understanding developed? Which species did we recognise, and when did people begin to record their sightings?

Peter Bircham looks at the history of British ornithology from 1066 to the mid-1970s, exploring along the way the first bird book, the first British lists, the collectors, the first studies of migration, changes to the classification of species, the birth of the British Ornithologists' Union in 1858, to our current understanding of ornithology in Britain today. Peter has written an extremely authoritative and engrossing account, full of fascinating stories and extracts from poems and journals, which should appeal to the wider birding community as well as the New Naturalist audience.


Up to the Sixteenth Century
The First Bird Book
The First British List
The Willughby/Ray Ornithology and other Seventeenth Century Works
The Systema naturae: Dawn of a New Age
The First Ornithological Ecologists: White, Jenner and Blackwall
Early Studies of Migration: Legg, Jenner and others
A Dictionary and Two Histories
The Artists and their Avifaunas
Alfred Newton and the Founding of the British Ornithologist's Union.
Theories of Classification, the National Collection and the Catalogue of Birds.
The Twentieth Century: Winds of Change
Recording the Avifauna of Britain
Migration: the Scientific Studies Begin
Plumage, Cages, Eggs and Shooting: The History of Bird Protection.
Behavioural and Ecological Studies
After the War
Post-War Ornithological Research
The British List and Problems with Fraud
New Slants on Old Problems
Appendix: The British List
References and Further Reading

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Peter Bircham currently works in the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, and is also a part-time tutor in ornithology for Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education. He is the author of 'The Birds of Cambridgeshire' and was advisory editor for the 'Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Ornithology'. He also contributed to the section on avifauna in 'Wicken Fen -- the Making of a Wetland Nature Reserve'. In addition, he has researched and published several academic papers.

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