608 pages, 1000+ colour photos and colour & b/w illustrations
The World of Birds is a groundbreaking guide to every aspect of bird life and a complete survey of the world's orders and families of birds. Written by eminent natural history expert Jonathan Elphick and with special photography from award-winning wildlife photographer David Tipling, it is the ultimate companion for birders, wildlife enthusiasts and anyone wanting an accessible and accurate acccount of these amazing creatures. The World of Birds begins by examining the evolution of birds since the age of the dinosaurs. It then explores in greater detail each of the significant elements of bird life: bird biology including anatomy, physiology, the brain and senses, plumage, calls and songs; flight techniques and styles; food and feeding; bird lifestyles and social relationships; breeding, growth and development; bird geography and habitats; and migration. The second part of The World of Birds provides a comprehensive survey of the world's birds which includes an introduction to the 32 orders and a detailed account and concise fact panel for every one of the 196 families. A glossary, further reading list and two indexes ensure easy reference. With its clear, lively text and fact boxes, and sumptuous illustrations throughout – over 1,000 photographs, maps and diagrams – The World of Birds is a book everyone interested in birds should own.
"The World of Birds by top ornithologist Jonathan Elphick gives a colourful and in-depth insight into the splendour and diversity of the avian world [...] The book reminds me how even the most familiar birds are full of surprises. [...] Half the book's 600-odd pages are taken up with biological accounts of the 200 or so families of living birds – each a masterpiece of focused scientific research, condensed natural-history writing and beautiful photos. The remaining chapters cover such topics as fossil birds, diet, migration and breeding. [...] Perusing the chapters on feathers, physiology, nests and anatomy could be a life-changing experience. [...] Beautiful, inspiring and concise as the book is, the breadth of its coverage means that there is no choice but for it to be the size and thickness of an old phone directory (remember them?), and you can only hope that it survives in a market replete with online rivals. While some may feel that a fat, fact-packed book full of dazzling images is a little old-fashioned, others will love leafing through it and letting the sheer splendour of birds and the occasional silliness of a name (ocellated tapaculo or Andalusian hemipode, anyone?) guide their reading. That and the enthusiasm of any small would-be biologist who just happens to be sitting on their knee."
- Adrian Barnett, New Scientist, 26-08-2014
"The scale of Jonathan Elphick's achievement in producing this impressive book is readily evident in the thorough and engaging text, which weaves a narrative around the World's 195 bird families. Alongside the text are numerous photographs, beautifully reproduced and featuring many leading photographers. The 10 chapters, spread over 600 pages, are divided into two sections. The first section examines the origins of birds, their anatomy, physiology, behaviour, populations and movements, not to mention the ways in which we interact with them. The second section, which is the longer of the two, takes a more detailed look at each of the 32 bird orders and the families they contain.
Each family of birds is treated in turn and each begins with an overview of the number of genera and species it contains, and an exploration of the family's range of behaviours, movements and conservation status. A longer narrative then follows, highlighting the different sub-families and their key species and revealing some fascinating facts; the most numerous wild bird is the Red-billed Quelea, with a total population of roughly 1.5 billion individuals, although this pales into insignificance when viewed alongside a domestic chicken population thought to number as many as 20 billion individuals alive at any one time.
A book of this kind is likely to draw comparison to The Handbook of Birds of the World but it is a very different book, more compelling in its narrative and more accessible to a wider audience (as you might expect of a book published by the Natural History Museum). This is the sort of book that will stimulate more detailed interest, that will appeal to a new generation of young ornithologists and will be dipped into by those wishing to broaden their knowledge more widely.
This, then, is a coffee table book of substance, rich in information and likely to engage and enthuse even the most casual of readers. The cover price, just £40, doesn't do justice to the quality of both the material contained within and the manner in which it has been presented."
- Mike Toms, BTO book reviews
1. Early Birds 6
2. Anatomy and Physiology 18
3. Flight 84
4. Food and Feeding 100
5. Bird Society and Population 132
6. Breeding 146
7. Where Do Birds Live? 182
8. Migration 220
9. Birds and Humans 246
10. The Bird Families 268
Further information 589
Picture credits 607
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Jonathan Elphick, BSc, FZS, FLS, is a highly regarded wildlife writer, editor, consultant, lecturer and broadcaster, specializing in ornithology. During a career spanning over 40 years, he has worked on many books, including spending twelve years as specialist researcher on Birds Britannica and Birds & People. He has also written a variety of titles, such as the bestseller Birdsong, Birds: The Art of Ornithology and the award-winning Birdwatcher's Handbook, and was a contributing editor on Natural History Museum Atlas of Bird Migration.
David Tipling has worked as a freelance wildlife photographer since 1992. He is one of the most widely published wildlife photographers in the world and his pictures have been used on hundreds of book and magazine covers, and regularly on TV. He has written and been the commissioned photographer for more than 40 books on birds and wildlife photography that include the best selling RSPB Guide to Digital Wildlife Photography. He has received the European Nature Photographer of the Year Documentary Award for his work, and has multiple wins in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.