287 pages, colour photos
Extreme Birds is a photographic showcase of 150 birds at the extremes of nature. It reveals nature's ingenuity and sometimes its sense of humor. The species in Extreme Birds were chosen for their extraordinary characteristics and for behaviors far beyond the typical. They are the biggest, the fastest, the meanest, the smartest. They build the most intricate nests, they have the most peculiar mating rituals, they dive the deepest and they fly the highest. These are the overachievers of the avian world.
- Most skilled nest builder: The tiny southern masked weaver reveals a surprising grasp of the principles of architecture. In just five days it weaves and knots thousands of fine grass strands to build a complex sphere-like nest that hangs from the tip of an overhead branch.
- Deadliest enemy: The southern cassowary is big (140 pounds), tall (6 feet) and fast (30 mph). This flightless bird can also leap 5 feet into the air and has 5-inch long claws that are capable of stabbing and disemboweling a human being.
- Most creative decorator: The blue bower bird creates an elaborate "bachelor pad" bower and decorates it with colorful baubles. Blue is preferred, and the shinier the better.
Enlivened with entertaining facts and anecdotes, Extreme Birds is an engaging celebration of nature's tremendous imagination. It will appeal to all readers, especially birders and naturalists.
"Captivating [...] will easily engage someone who didn't even know they could be interested in birds [...] a fun read."
– Paul Nicholson, London Free Press on 01/12/2012
"This is a beautifully illustrated account of over 130 species of birds and their associated morphologies and behaviors. Whether intended or not, the species chosen [...] span the breadth of avian diversity from a taxonomic perspective. Concurrently, through exquisite photographs of each species, readers gain a visual glimpse into the amazing diversity of bird morphologies and behaviors [...] Although these species accounts are presented in a coffee-table book format, the knowledge relayed by the author is surprisingly current with respect to the scientific literature. As a professor of two different ornithology courses, I gleaned many pieces of new information on bird behavior and ecology that will make great fodder for various lecture topics. Overall, Extreme Birds provides a wonderful tribute to the astounding lifestyles encompassed by the world's birds through its fine photography combined with knowledgeable accounts of unique snippets of avian natural history and ecology."
– Muir Eaton, Biology, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Quarterly Review of Biology on 01/03/2011
"A great book full of interesting facts about 135 of the extremest birds in the world."
– Wildlife Activist on 01/06/2010
"With a nod to researchers and conservation, a UK bird expert showcases the extreme forms, abilities, behavior and survival techniques in this oversize volume with full-page color photographs."
– SciTech Book News on 01/12/2009
"You probably didn't figure that birds could be quite so fascinating or downright weird. Open any page in Extreme Birds and you'll see them in a whole new light [...] These are truly amazing birds, and author and bird expert Dominic Couzens excels at sharing his avian enthusiasm. The writing, far from having dry, scientific descriptions, is humorous and entertaining [...] Each entry is accompanied by an astonishing photograph. They're worth a look on their own."
– Johanna Weidner, Grand Magazine on 28/02/2009
"From colorful to bizarre, the world of birds is very strange indeed. Extreme Birds provides a wealth of fun factoids on our feathered friends from ugliest looks to the biggest belly."
– C.A. Boylan, Shutterbug on 02/01/2009
"Hooked! I expected widest wingspan, smallest bird, longest bill and so on, but heaviest testes, biggest belly and smelliest bird took me by surprise [...] Many of the author's choices will not surprise the ardent birder [...] although the author tucks in many fascinating details [...] I usually read bird books to learn something [...] I read this book because it is fun. Even when I knew the facts, such as the Emperor Penguin's unbelievable fast, I enjoyed the author's version of the tale. It was even better when I was learning something new [...] So if you want to know the biggest, the fastest, the smallest, best nest builder, weirdest matings and who dives the deepest or flies the highest, then this is the book for you. Even non-birder trivia fans will get great enjoyment. Oh yes, and the heaviest testes (8 per cent of its body mass and heavier than its brain) record is held by the Alpine Accentor. For good reason too, but you really should read the book to find out why!"
– Roy John, The Canadian Field-Naturalist, Vol. 121 on 01/01/2009
"Anyone interested in bird trivia will enjoy this coffee table book."
– Birdbooker Report 39, livingthescientific.com on 22/12/2008
"This is a great big coffee-table book, but it's one that's sure to be examined by everyone in the family because the information is presented in such a reader-friendly way."
– Waterloo Region Record/Guelph Mercury on 13/12/2008
"Dominic Couzens enthralls the reader with Extreme Birds and the subtitle is accurate. These are the world's most extraordinary and bizarre birds, whether for their appearance or behaviours, a veritable Guinness book of Avian Records."
– Jodi DeLong, Chronicle Herald on 07/12/2008
"The superlatives of the feathered world, including "cleverest hunter" and "best drummer"."
– Science News on 06/12/2008
"This colourful coffee-table book boasts stunning full-page photos, a bright, crisply written text and an irresistible premise: fun facts about "the world's most extraordinary and bizarre birds." [...] The text, comprising only a few paragraphs on each bird, is both authoritative and inviting and the design is simple, clean and accessible. This is a perfect book for nature-loving kids and adults who may – or may not – be avid birders. I mean, doesn't everyone want to know which bird has the snuggest underwear?"
– Val Cunningham, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN on 18/11/2008
"A wonderful collection of bird superlatives [...] Fascinating facts and beautiful photographs make this one a winner."
– Nancy Bent, Booklist on 01/11/2008
"Following a brief introduction, Dominic Couzens presents to the reader birds extreme in form, ability and behaviour, and some 'extreme families', too. The style of the text facing the large and impressive photographs is lively, often with a humorous slant, but there is plenty of good science as well [...] As an addition to a secondary school library, this book might well elicit a few 'wows' and 'yucks', but it will also provide a stimulating and colourful source of information about the life of some bizarre birds."
– M. G. Wilson, IBIS, British Ornithologists' Union on 01/01/2008
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Dominic Couzens has written many books on birds and birding, leads specialized bird tours and is a regular contributor to Birdwatch and BBC Wildlife magazines.