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Academic & Professional Books  Ornithology  Birds: General

History of Ornithology

Series: New Naturalist Series Volume: 104
By: Peter Bircham(Author)
496 pages, b/w photos, colour illustrations
Publisher: HarperCollins
Authoritative account of British birding
History of Ornithology
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  • History of Ornithology ISBN: 9780007199709 Paperback Oct 2007 Out of Print #151698
  • History of Ornithology ISBN: 9780007199693 Hardback Oct 2007 Out of Print #151697
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About this book

Complete your New Naturalist collection with Harper Collins's facsimile versions, which are printed on demand. A History of Ornithology was first published in 2007.

What did we know about birds a thousand years ago, and how has our understanding developed? A History of Ornithology offers a complete history of birdwatching in Britain, a classic for every nature lover's bookshelf. This edition is produced from an original copy by William Collins.

Today there is a huge interest in birdwatching as a hobby, and over the years amateur birdwatchers have contributed enormously to our understanding of the birds around us. At the same time, ornithology has developed as a science in the field, in the laboratory, and in the universities and birds have played their part in pushing forward the frontiers of biological knowledge.

Peter Bircham looks at the history of British ornithology, spanning a millennium and exploring along the way the first bird book, the earliest British lists, various notable scientists, collectors and artists, the first studies of migration, and the challenges presented by classification. He traces the development of the British Ornithologists' Union and other organisations, and finishes with a review of the current state of ornithology in Britain.

A History of Ornithology is an authoritative and engrossing account, packed full of fascinating stories not only about the birds but also about the many colourful characters who have studied them through the ages. This beautifully illustrated book will hold great appeal both for the student of ornithology and for the enthusiastic amateur naturalist.


- 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
- Index

Customer Reviews


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.

Series: New Naturalist Series Volume: 104
By: Peter Bircham(Author)
496 pages, b/w photos, colour illustrations
Publisher: HarperCollins
Authoritative account of British birding
Media reviews

"Bircham has found for himself a distinctive ecological niche by dwelling on the evolving science, rather than ornithology as social process or field activity [...] he has produced a thorough and valuable contribution to the field"
– Mark Cocker, The Guardian

"A very good reference book and a fascinating read."
BTO News

"This book has set a benchmark for future histories on this subject, though I'm guessing that there won't be many books that come along in the near future that offer a serious alternative to this extremely well-balanced and studious work."

"A well-researched and fascinating book [...] Bircham has done a fine job."
BBC Wildlife Magazine

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