160 pages, 140 colour photos
Bird courtship and display can be one of the most captivating events in the natural world. The Mating Lives of Birds looks at natural selection and why birds have evolved different reproduction strategies, examining territories, birdsong, displays and dealing with rivals. It also looks at different bird lifestyles, including monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, promiscuity, and communal arrangements, as well as the importance of plumage, including why males are usually brighter and how special plumage features have evolved.
The Mating Lives of Birds then focuses on some of the most spectacular bird displays, including bittern ('booming', territorial and mating call); superb lyrebird (amazing tail feathers, posture display in special arena); grouse (leks, special calls, plumage features); golden eagle (pendulum flight with both male and female); cranes (dancing displays); ruddy duck (drumming noises, bubbling effects); puffins (bill colours change for breeding season); egrets (elaborate display plumes); frigatebirds (inflatable throat-pouch display), birds-of-paradise (outrageous plumage, hanging displays, vocalization); ruff (special breeding plumage, 'jousting' between males at leks) and phalaropes (role reversal, female brighter and proactive in display). This evocatively written and richly illustrated title will be an essential addition to the library of any keen birdwatcher.
"[...] Overall, this attractive book should be well received by the general public and birders. I very much hope that it will whet people’s appetite to learn more about the fascinating mating behaviour and breeding ecology of birds."
– Tamás Székely, Ibis (158), 2016
"Another coffee-table photographic book. The text on which the photographs hang describes – in both general terms and in relation to the species in the accompanying photographs – an outline of the breeding biology of birds, under the headings 'Finding a mate', 'The art of display', 'Personal relationships, 'Making nests', and 'Eggs and young'. But it is the photographs that make the book: a collection of beautiful images from the exotic, such as Raggiana Bird of Paradise and jabiru Stork, to the mundane, such as Coot and Herring Gull. In truth, there is not much that is really special here, but I do particularly like the Gannets, the Grey Phalaropes, the different Marvellous Spatuletail and the young Steppe Eagles."
– Steve Gantlett, Birding World 25(12), January 2013.
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