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Academic & Professional Books  Ornithology  Biology, Ecology & Behaviour

Avian Architecture How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build

Art / Photobook Popular Science New Edition
By: Peter Goodfellow(Author), Tony D Williams(Editor), Coral Mula(Illustrator)
176 pages, 300+ colour photos and colour & b/w illustrations
The essential illustrated guide to how birds design and build their nests – now fully revised and expanded
Avian Architecture
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  • Avian Architecture ISBN: 9780691255460 Edition: 2 Hardback Feb 2024 In stock
Price: £25.00
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About this book

Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. Describing how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, Avian Architecture deconstructs all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use.

This spectacularly illustrated book features more than 300 full-colour images and more than 40 case studies that profile key species worldwide. Each chapter covers a different type of nest, from tunnel nests and mound nests to floating nests, hanging nests, woven nests, and even multiple-nest avian cities. Other kinds of avian construction – such as bowers and food stores – are also featured.

Now with more case studies and an updated foreword, this revised and expanded edition includes intricate step-by-step sequences, visual spreads on nest-building materials and methods, and insightful commentary by a leading expert.

Customer Reviews


Peter Goodfellow is a retired English teacher and lifelong birdwatcher. His books include A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Britain and Northern Europe and Birds as Builders.

Tony D. Williams is professor of ecological and evolutionary physiology and chair of biology at Simon Fraser University. His books include What Is a Bird? and Physiological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds (both Princeton).

Art / Photobook Popular Science New Edition
By: Peter Goodfellow(Author), Tony D Williams(Editor), Coral Mula(Illustrator)
176 pages, 300+ colour photos and colour & b/w illustrations
The essential illustrated guide to how birds design and build their nests – now fully revised and expanded
Media reviews

Reviews of the first edition:

"I’ve been waiting a long while for a book like Avian Architecture. I was not disappointed. It is nothing short of a revelation to discover not only the variety of structures that birds build, but also (especially) how they are constructed."
– Grant McCreary (30-06-2011), read the full review at The Birder's Library

"I live in a nice clapboard house and work in a gleaming steel-and-glass skyscraper, but after reading Avian Architecture I feel cheated. I'll never get to enjoy the comforts of the nest of a long-tailed tit."
– Henry Fountain, New York Times

"Goodfellow explores nest types and their design and construction. The text is excellent and the book is richly illustrated with drawings, photographs, and a selection of architectural blueprints for many nests. [...] [Goodfellow] sharpens the focus to explore nests only from the perspective of their architecture – their form, function, construction materials, how they are made, and by whom [...] We love finding nests but rarely pay attention to how they are built. Avian Architecture will magnify your sense of wonder. The book is chockablock full of detail presented in a very accessible way."
– Wayne Mones, Audubon Blog

"[Avian Architecture] captures a lifetime of not just observing birds but the unsung structures they create."
– Meera Subramanian, Discover

"Avian Architecture offers more than mere knowledge. Through the factual exploration of avian nest building, this book not only informs but also imparts a sense of wonder."
Bloomsbury Review

"The author's interest is contagious and will leave readers inspired to discover and admire bird nests in the wild."
– Sabrina S. Taylor, Journal of Field Ornithology

"[Avian Architecture] is a compelling read. I couldn't put it down. Goodfellow organizes nests into general types: scrapes, holes, platforms, cups, woven nests and so on. He describes each nest type in great detail and illustrates the process with detailed artwork and photos."
– Scott Shalaway, West Virginia Gazette

"This has got to be one of the coolest bird books I've ever come across [...] Avian Architecture may unravel some of the mystery behind how birds make their nests, but Peter Goodfellow thoroughly reveals a complexity in nest building that makes birds all the more astounding [...] Trust me, you're [going to] want this!"
– Robert Mortenson, Birding Is Fun

"In a word, this book is 'magnificent'. Its 160 pages are loaded with the kind of photos and artwork that we've come to expect from Princeton University Press – exceptional [...] This book delivers 100% of what the title promises – the design, engineering, and building of birds' nests."

"Avian Architecture is a beautiful book with lots of pictures and illustrations of the many styles of nests birds build. In addition, there are interesting insights into birds around the world."
– A Charm of Finches

"A well-illustrated introduction into the nest building behavior of birds."
– Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker Report

"The illustrations are a rich combination of fine photographs and necessary graphics that can show structural cutaways and design elements no photo can reproduce. From the simple but elegantly hidden scrape nests to the large, unwieldy platform nests of some of our largest birds, this book gives you the how and where of the avian builder's method."
– Harry Fuller, A Towheeblog

"A must have book if you have ever wondered how birds are able to build such incredible nests. Peter Goodfellow has created a fascinating read combining "blueprint" drawings, with explanations, of each nest type as well as detailed drawings of the techniques and materials used by some specific species of birds."
– Birder's Report

"The drawings and text allow the author to give the reader a firm understanding of how various nests are made. The coverage goes from simple nests to more complex, sometimes communal nests [...] The book covers so much more: mound incubators that use the heat of composting material, platform nesters, colonial nesters and others. The text is easy to understand and can be shared with children. This book provides a great entry to the wonder of birds."
– Herb Wilson, Portland Press Herald

"Goodfellow provides blueprints for each nest type, a list of building materials, and case studies. All are illustrated with photographs and superb artwork, and explained in clear, concise text. Bird nests can be as fascinating as the bird itself. Avian Architecture makes that point clear [...] I read Avian Architecture cover to cover without putting it down."
– Jim Williams, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"[...] This book is attractively designed and well-illustrated with photographs and line drawings. About 14 different nest types and their construction are described, with ‘blueprints’ giving annotated line drawings of the different types, and ‘case studies’ in which a variety the nests of a number of species are described. Though I claim no particular expertise in the subject of bird’s nests, the book appears to be comprehensive. It is a fascinating to browse, and while not everyone will want to read it from cover to cover it is a thoroughly useful addition to any ornithological library."
– Richard Chandler, British Birds, 24-09-2013

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