There are some 10,000 bird species in existence today, occupying every continent and virtually every habitat on Earth. The variety of bird species is truly astounding, from the tiny bee hummingbird to the large flightless ostrich, making birds one of the most diverse and successful animal groups on the planet. Taking you inside the extraordinary world of birds, What Is a Bird? explores all aspects of these remarkable creatures, providing an up-close look at their morphology, unique internal anatomy and physiology, fascinating and varied behaviour, and ecology. It features hundreds of colour illustrations and draws on a broad range of examples, from the familiar backyard sparrow to the most exotic birds of paradise. A must-have book for birders and armchair naturalists, What Is a Bird? is a celebration of the rich complexity of bird life.
- An absorbing and beautifully presented exploration of the natural history of birds
- Integrates physiological adaptations with ecology and behaviour
- Features a wealth of colour photographs and explanatory figures
- Uses scanning electron microscope imagery to provide a rare close-up view of structures not normally visible
- Provides insights into our complex relationship with birds, from our enduring fascination with them to the threats they face and the challenges of conservation
Tony Williams is professor of biological sciences at Simon Fraser University and a fellow of the American Ornithological Society. He is the author of Physiological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds (Princeton) and The Penguins.
"Princeton University Press certainly knows how to put a good bird book together. This is a sumptuously – one might almost say seductively – produced and illustrated compendium of birds, covering (as its subtitle indicates) a wide range of topics. The text, contributed by seven different authors, is eminently readable and impressively up to date. It is no mean feat to cover so much ground in such relatively little space, and this is achieved by adopting a magazine-style format across the ten chapters. [...] 1 was particularly struck by the quality of the photographs, most of which I had not seen before - always refreshing in a book like this. In most cases these nicely complement the text, which in turn is also supplemented by a small number of graphs, maps and boxes containing additional information. This is extremely good value, and I can envisage What Is a Bird? being snapped up by those wanting a beautifully illustrated, up-tot-date account of bird biology."
– Tim Birkhead, British Birds 114, April 2021