Despite their small size, the Maltese Islands have a rich history that spans 7000 years. For centuries, their strategic location in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea was coveted by successive powers as a base for control and expansion.
The Islands are also of strategic value as a resting and refuelling station for millions of migratory birds crossing the sea between Europe and Africa. These mysterious seasonal comings and goings of birds no doubt fascinated people down the ages. Not surprisingly, the Islands' ornithological history is also rich and varied.
History Of Ornithology In Malta traces all written references to bird observation and study in the Maltese Islands, from a comment by a 16th century French monk to the latest ground breaking research projects. It is an account of the evolution of bird study and ornithological literature in Malta, interspersed with brief biographies of the human protagonists.
"[...] Along with being a very good read, the book offers an important insight into mass migration of birds, Malta and the development of a counterculture, the history of ornithology as it developed on the islands by both locals and visitors, and the wonderful array of research and literature that has accelerated since the early 1960s and holds great promise for the future. I found the most endearing element of the book to be the downplaying of the real struggle these ornithologists have to go through every day and how an ornithological conservation society developed over many years. There are many elements that have a relevance to other groups of ornithologists both in well-established groupings and in those at an earlier stage of development."
– Ian K. Langford, Ibis 159, 2017
"Meticulously researched, beautifully illustrated and eminently readable, this book gives a sweeping account of the evolution of ornithological study in Malta, from its rudimentary beginnings in the sixteenth century through to the cutting edge of present day research projects. [...] The lavish illustrations on every page make this book a delight to read and add an extra dimension. The characters are brought vividly to life by means of portraits, photographs, title pages, correspondence and diaries. Their various rivalries and jealousies are revealed through quotations and anecdotes. Footnotes are used to clarify and extend many of the points made in the text. [...]"
– Genevieve Bridgeman, BTO book reviews