448 pages, Col photos
Lying in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta is a natural staging post for migrant birds crossing from Africa to Europe in spring as well as for migrants returning from their breeding grounds in Europe to the African continent in autumn. Birds have attracted man's attention for a long time and this book shows images of birds in prehistory, art, stamps, coins, antique embroidery and so forth. It also speaks about birds in all aspects of Maltese culture, from folklore to language. It is also a photographic record of many of the birds that regularly visit the islands and features ones that are rare or have been recorded a handful of times. It also contains several unpublished records dating from 1958.
The book discusses conservation measures and the impacts of hunting and trapping, as well as delves into social aspects of hunting and trapping, explaining why people hunt and trap birds and what birds mean to them. It also charts a way forward. It provides a detailed account of bird migration in the centre of the Mediterranean, with maps based on ringing recoveries and satellite telemetry. It provides the most up to date account of all the birds in Malta, documenting 50 new species over the previous guide book, published in 2001. This is both because of new occurrences as well as changes in taxonomy which led to sub-species being declared species in their own right.
The book also records of new breeding species such as Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Black-Winged Stilts, Bee-eaters, Long-eared Owl, Great-reed Warblers as well as confirmed breeding again of Peregrine Falcons, Kestrels and Quail which had not been confirmed breeding for some 30 years.
Far More Than a Book on Birds of Malta
by Philip Vassallo in the United States (27/01/2012)
It may take a lifetime to completely absorb the magnitude of this 454-page book (it's 9 1/2" X 11 1/4"), and it took Natalino Fenech a lifetime of passionate concern, intense scholarship, and political involvement to author it. Fenech, the Head of News for Malta's Public Broadcasting Service and a Ph.D. in geography, has long been the ultimate source of birding for the island nation situated between Europe and Africa, a strategic location not only in the history of warfare but in the migratory patterns of birds of many feathers. At six pounds, the heft of this book alone underscores the weight that Fenech brings to bear on this fascinating subject. He writes not only of numerous avifauna species that pass across and live year-round on the island, but of the Maltese people's long relationship with birds. Part autobiography, part geography, part ornithology, and part sociology, the book is rich with hundreds of photograp hs, most captured by Fenech himself, and written with deep wisdom, surprising humor, and great credibility.
If you are looking for insight into the Maltese mind through a singular look at birding, then this book is a must-read.
A milestone in Maltese Ornithology
by Michael Sammut in Malta
This book is a real milestone in Maltese Ornithology. It is not intended as a field guide but as a reference book that covers all aspects of birds in the Maltese context. The book is essentially a collage of different books as it deals with history and the close affiliation between man and birds on these Mediterranean Islands and tackles the passion for birds and the various aspects in which it is manifested such as art, folklore, sayings, names etc.
The book covers local ornithology as it evolved through the span of time and eventually promotes a positive way of thinking, a way forward for better appriciation of birds in Malta and hence hope of a brighter future for birds iN Malta as trends continue to change for the positive, away from the mass persecutions of the past. The section containing the bird list and records is truly impressive as it brings together various sources under one book. Many of these records would have simply been lost for one reason or another. Over 900 photos illustrate the sections comprehensively. This book is a must have not only for those interested in birds in Malta but all those who appriciate birds as a whole.
by John Borg in Malta
This book is simply superb. Written by one of Malta's best journalists who in the past also campaigned in favour of birds and the environment, this book is a milestone not only where birds are concerned but also in Maltese literature. I was amazed by the amount of detail the author managed to find to show how deep rooted bird-man relationships are. The author takes the reader through a tour starting from pre-historic man and birds to current controversies over conservation.
The book is splendidly illustrated with some 900 photos, most of which are really stunning. You can find photos of birds in everything from door knockers to pre-historic bird pendants to birds in house names. The book contains folklore, history of ornithology, history of conservation in Malta, a detailed chapter about migration over Malta and much much more. The section about ornithology, which roughly covers half of the book, contains a wealth of details of old and new records as well as new species for Malta. I don't have words to praise this book enough.
by Johnathan Bergman in UK
I bought this book while on holiday in Malta recently and looked it up on NHBS to refer friends of mine to it. This book is AMAZING. I've really never seen anything like it. It combines ornithology with popular bird lore. This book raises the bar and authors should write books about flowers, shells, animals and all living beings JUST LIKE THIS.
The author writes about everything you want to know about birds. So you find birds in everything you never thought existed, from graffiti to birds of cartridges that were used by hunters to birds in literature, in everyday jargon. It must have taken the author three lifetimes to write this. Anyone who did not know anything about birds who reads this book will suddenly become a know-it-all... if one can remember it all, that is! The amount of research is just incredible. The photographs are superb. Some of them don't just show birds, but show birds in their habitat. What a feat! To top it all, it is written in such an easy, flowing way that takes you there. Congratulations to the author. The publisher must be like a proud peacock with an author like this!
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Dr Natalino Fenech is the Editor and Head of News of Malta's national television station. He has been a full time journalist since 1992, and worked as news editor for Standard Publications, publisher of The Malta Independent and later as a senior journalist with Allied Newspapers Ltd, publishers of The Times and The Sunday Times.
He read for a PhD in Geography at Durham (UK), and his thesis dealt with bird hunting and its socio-economic implications in Malta. He has been associated with the conservation movement in Malta for a long time, having been involved with a number of bird protection and environment groups.
His first book Fatal Flight the Maltese obsession with killing birds, was published in 1992 by Quiller Press (UK). It dealt with the slaughter of birds that was taking place in Malta at the time. This book was endorsed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the International Council for Bird Preservation, Greenpeace International, The Scottish Wildlife Trust, The Malta Ornithological Society, the Game Conservancy, David Bellamy and Farley Mowat.