How are birds related to dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs? Where do birds live, and not live? How many bird species are there, and how many actual birds, and how does this vary across the glob? What about endemics?; Where ate the most local species found? Mike Unwin’s The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation covers this and more in a richly illustrated detailed global survey of Aves.
This new and very impressive, and highly accessible volume covers bird biogeography with an overview of counts and diversity followed by a continent-by-continent review, to give you an idea of where birds are found. Then, Unwin covers the major taxonomic Orders of birds, giving even treatment by order despite the great disparity in speciously. There are a zillion bird orders but he covers them in nine sections, which means you can get a very good overview of bird diversity which will inform even the most experienced birder of something you didn’t already know. Probably a lot of things, actually. Following this, Unwin provides a similarly broad overview of bird adaptations (display, eggs, nesting, migration, foraging, etc.). The last three sections are about bird-human interaction, bird current conservation status, and current efforts to protect birds.
I think I’m going to get a number of bloggable inspirations out of this Atlas.
Unwin makes the point in his introduction that birds are ubiquitous (great minds think alike!), and thus very heavily studied, and he is correct, yet he manages to get a very good point by point summary of everything you can know about birds in fewer than 150 pages. This makes The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation an excellent evolutionary, behavioral, and conservation related companion to the other titles in your bird library. I’ve already recommended one book as great holiday gift for your favorite birder, but now I’ll recommend The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation as well.
Mike Unwin has written a number of other nature-related books with which you may be familiar, one of which pertains to South Africa and I’ll be reviewing soon. You’ve probably heard of the kids book Why Do Tigers Have Stripes?.