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  1. Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  2. Robins and Chats
  3. Top Authors
  4. A Handbook to the Swallows and Martins of the World by Angela Turner and Chris Rose

A huge amount of work was surely involved in producing this book, and the end result, despite the few shortcomings mentioned above, is very impressive. I recommend the book to both amateurs and professionals interested in this fascinating group of birds, especially if you have not already purchased Payne's monograph — and even if you have, you will surely enjoy the unique plates and photographs in Cuckoos of the World.

The author, Dieter Glandt, is well known for his interest in amphibians and reptiles, and in Northern Ravens Corvus corax. Glandt's thorough knowledge of crows Corvidae is fed by enthusiasm.


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The many pictures, each lucidly explained, make the text easier to digest, especially for those who read German but are not completely fluent in the language. Cited literature is numbered in the text and does not detract from the flow. I welcome the inclusion of an index.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Ravens are the main actors, but behavioural traits are clarified where necessary by focusing on other species, for which the author uses a wide range of studies. The cognitive prowess of crows to recover cached food receives extensive attention, a strategy best known in Eurasian Jay Garrulax glandarius and Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes and other species in North America , which are even able to recover their hoards from under deep snow.

Another intriguing subject treated is helpers at the nest, here exemplified by studies on Spanish Carrion Crows Corvus corone. Helping contributes to an improved reproductive output, mainly because nests with helpers suffer less parasitism by Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius. An experiment in which eggs of Swiss Carrion Crows were added to Spanish nests suggested that the helping behaviour was adaptive, and not genetically imprinted, as the young raised from those eggs also showed helping behaviour in later life.

The final chapter is about the relationship between crows and humans, an emotionally charged subject if ever there was one.

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Many crow species definitely benefit from the presence of humans, but in many cases the love has not been mutual. Ravens, for instance, have been exterminated from large parts of Europe by shooting and poisoning during the past few hundred years. Over recent decades the species has been recolonizing its former range and, where it reappears, it is accused of killing lambs and even young cattle, and of causing damage to crops in the neighbourhood of rubbish dumps. Where alleged killings are involved, Ravens often turned out to be the scapegoat for poor husbandry, because when an official veterinary autopsy was carried out, the numbers of sheep said to have been killed by Ravens dropped sharply.


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For those able to read German who want to become acquainted with crows and who doesn't? It stands in a long tradition of books singing the praises of a bird group superbly adapted to human activities. Vladimir Ivanovskiy [frequently written Ivanovsky or Ivanovski] is an undisputed authority on raptors of Belarus, well known at home and abroad. Following the Foreword come five chapters, the first two describing the study area and methods, while Chapter 3 contains the species accounts, and the last two chapters are devoted, respectively, to population status and conservation.

Of the total of references listed in the Bibliography, are in Russian. Details are given of topographical features, soils, climate, forests, and fauna of the region, and a brief description and a map of the main study areas are provided. Study methods employed include counts from the ground and raised platforms, analysis of pellets and food remains on nests when special climbing gear is used and under favoured perches, and formulae used to calculate indices.

There are tables and diagrams with bilingual captions; the English captions are not perfect but understandable. Raptors occupied 77 of nests and groups of nests built by the author in the period —; e. In —, 20 of 27 pairs of Golden Eagle used artificial nests, in some cases the same one for several years in succession. Nesting success in artificial nests was higher for all species.

Although all birds of prey are protected in Belarus and fines for shooting have increased, the majority of hunters are unaware of these regulations, and illegal shooting continues. The author calls for better education of forestry workers and hunters. Additional problems arise from recent changes in land use and weather patterns. Reforestation of abandoned agricultural lands has reduced hunting habitat for Lesser Spotted Eagle. Peat extraction from raised bogs has also increased, and fires have become more frequent in recent years.

Robins and Chats

A large bog drainage scheme and recreation pressure at large lakes pose additional threats, and the author advocates better protection of large peat bogs. Thirty seasonal reserves exist in the region, but more are needed since they may moderate conflicts between economic and conservation interests, while still providing protection for raptors. This small book reviews aspects of the philosophy of biodiversity conservation. It is aimed at a readership much wider than philosophers, and including policymakers. Whilst the material will probably be stimulating to some theoreticians, I would have concerns about policymakers using such a book.

It makes a number of biological statements that are highly disputable, yet it gives almost no reference to sources which would support or refute key statements. However, it is not easy for the reader to work out which these are, and which others have been put forward before — and which of these have been tested by peer review. The biology from cellular to ecological can also be questioned. High habitat diversity is said to be characteristic of the Amazon basin — but this is debatable. An emphasis on diversity invites misunderstanding and abuse, and previous textbook work on this concept should be indicated.

It expands on the concept of living things increasing their own order and complexity through inevitably increasing universal disorder entropy. Birds are mentioned only occasionally, but without an index it is not easy to find where — and you may not like what you find.

Top Authors

The Cotingidae and Pipridae are New World suboscine birds known for their striking plumages and elaborate lekking displays. Kirwan and Green have compiled the most thorough compendium of information on these families published to date. This hefty tome features plates depicting multiple plumages of polymorphic species followed by species accounts with photographs and sections on taxonomy, identification, distribution, movements, habitat, measurements, geographical variation, voice, foraging, breeding, status.

It expands upon treatments by the late D. The authors present 48 genera species , including several genera now placed in other families e. Sapayoa , Oxyrunchus , Calyptura. Inclusion of a current phylogenetic hypothesis would have helped clarify relationships among the genera. I am impressed by both the scope and the beauty of this book. How will the book be used? It is definitely not a field guide!

Weighing in at over 1. However, most of the information is presented in such a way that keen birders and ecotourists will find the book accessible to them, especially with the aid of the Glossary. Yet many sections e. Measurements are clearly not directed at the birding audience. Field researchers are most likely to use these data, making it a valuable reference for biological stations and NGOs.

A broader range of ornithologists will also find the book valuable in serving as a starting place for gaining natural history knowledge of species unfamiliar to them. Powell and Bjork's radiotracking study Conserv. Overall, I would recommend Cotingas and Manakins to keen amateurs and professionals with an interest in Neotropical birds.

A Handbook to the Swallows and Martins of the World by Angela Turner and Chris Rose

The authors are to be commended for tackling this ambitious project and producing such an attractive reference. Bird finding guides are becoming very popular for those travelling the world and wanting to see the bird species for which a region or country is particularly noted. There follows a section summarizing the island's biodiversity more than bird species recorded and conservation 38 species are considered threatened or endangered with extinction, including 15 of the 32 endemics.

The geography and main habitats of the island are then described, followed by useful tips before you go: arrival and entry requirements, currency, language, car rentals, public transport, places to stay, climate, timing the trip, health and safety issues and things to bring. Related books, CDs and websites are mentioned, although no detailed bibliography is provided. There are basic tips for finding birds, along with birding ethics to ensure the welfare of the species and their environment. A checklist of endemic species and subspecies is followed by short accounts of the 32 endemics accompanied by colour plates of each.

Two large tables indicate which species can be seen at each of the 44 sites, the first focusing on the endemics, and the second on all the species. The main body of the book describes each of the recommended birding sites within the five regions, with useful sketch maps, birding times, trail difficulty, reserve hours and entrance fee details where applicable, followed by a site description, details of access, main birding areas and logistics.

I cannot imagine any birdwatcher visiting the island without this book, which undoubtedly will enhance their visit. Nova Scotia is home for me, but I have not visited the province in quite some time, and this book reminded me of some of the good reasons I should do so more often. This unique geography makes it very attractive to birds and hence also to birdwatchers: it is known for its relatively high diversity of species, its importance as a migratory stopover and for the many interesting vagrants that have occurred there.