Weather and Bird Behaviour
Weather and Bird Behaviour by Norman Elkins [3rd revised edition] 2004 T & A D Poyser £35 ISBN 0713668253
Ever since reading Birds & Weather - A Birdwatcher`s Guide by Stephen Moss [1995 HamlynISBN: 0600586790] I have tried, like many birders who would like to find a good bird for themselves rather than twitching other people`s finds, to predict when the weather will create a fall of migrants or, at least, turn up a few goodies. I`ve always thought that the formula was fairly simple; a strong cold wind from the north in Autumn or a warm wind from the south in Spring as Stephen Moss`s book asserts.
Of course, whilst it is that simple, the interaction between birds and weather is far more complex than that as this volume explains in great depth. Just about any aspect of bird behaviour may be affected from feeding to breeding, or flocking to soaring. Obvious? Well of course, now that it`s pointed out of course its obvious – if you live outdoors the weather is a constant major factor in your life. What this book does is show how, why, where and when these interactions occur.
The layout and illustrations
are stylish with good line drawings breaking up the text and a series of very good photographs to delight the eye [albeit sometimes a
bit tenuous – do we really need a picture of snow to know what it`s like?]
Above all this is a truly scientific study and sets out for the layman just how deeply weather effects avifauna – such as poor weather effecting egg size as breeding birds struggle to find sufficient food and so forth.
Occasionally I came across a
word or two that I had to look up but by and large the book reads well and many birders will want to read it as well it being a
classic for ornithologists.
Poyser is, of course, now part of the Helm, Pica grouping so it will be interesting to see whether their titles continue to be distinct. This is a revision of a long-established book but will the collective publishers keep the distinctive Poyser pitch as well as the imprint? I for one hope so. Individual monographs and science based books will always have their place and diversity is an asset which should not be squandered on the altar of scale economies or house styles.
Created: 29th Apr 2004