A Chorus of Cranes – The Cranes of North America and the World
By Paul A Johnsgard | Illustrated by Thomas D Mangelsen | University Press of Colorado | Paperback | Nov 2015 | 226 Pages | 35 Colour and 41 Black & White Illustrations | ISBN: 9781607324362
The Publisher’s View: Accompanied by the stunning photography of Thomas D. Mangelsen, A Chorus of Cranes details the natural history, biology, and conservation issues surrounding the abundant sandhill crane and the endangered whooping crane in North America. Author Paul A. Johnsgard, one of the leading authorities on cranes and crane biology, describes the fascinating social behaviors, beautiful natural habitats, and grueling seasonal migrations that have stirred the hearts of people as far back as medieval times and garnered the crane a place in folklore and mythology across continents.
Johnsgard has substantially updated and significantly expanded his 1991 work Crane Music, incorporating new information on the biology and status of these two North American cranes and providing abbreviated summaries on the other thirteen crane species of the world. The stories of these birds and their contrasting fates provide an instructive and moving history of bird conservation in North America. A Chorus of Cranes is a gorgeous and invaluable resource for crane enthusiasts, birders, natural historians, and conservationists alike.
Other Views: “In this glorious book, Paul Johnsgard and Tom Mangelsen have captured the very essence of these ancient birds – their beauty, grace of movement, and fascinating lives. It is a must for crane lovers, birders, and all who love the natural world.“
– Jane Goodall
“Professor Paul Johnsgard is the world’s leading synthesizer of our knowledge of birds and the presenter of such varied and complex information to both professional and lay audiences. He has made an enormous contribution to our planet […] In his latest book, A Chorus of Cranes, the splendor of Johnsgard’s lyrical style is matched by incomparable images from one of the world’s best-known photographers, and fellow Nebraskan, Tom Mangelsen.“
– George Archibald, Co-Founder and Senior Conservationist, International Crane Foundation
The Author: Paul A. Johnsgard is Foundation Professor of Biological Sciences Emeritus at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the world’s most prolific author of ornithological literature, having published nearly 70 books, five works of fiction, and more than 100 peer-reviewed and 150 nature-related articles. He has been awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award, Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award, and an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska, and in recognition of his ornithological writing and conservation work was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the National Wildlife Federation’s National Conservation Achievement Award, the National Audubon Society’s Charles H.Callahan Award, and the American Ornithologists’ Union’s Ralph Schreiber Conservation Award.
Thomas D. Mangelsen is one of the world’s premier nature photographers. He was named BBC’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 1994 and One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography by American Photo magazine. His work is offered in eight MANGELSEN-Images of Nature galleries across the United States.
Fatbirder View: This book is very nearly all it ought to be. North America’s two species are given in-depth coverage by someone who is not only clearly an expert, but also, as clearly, loves these birds.
Cranes are big birds and they impact on the imagination. Moreover, their behaviour has inspired mankind for centuries by virtue of their incredible migrations, accumulations and, above all, beauty. They are not just graceful in flight and in general but their dance is almost unparalleled. I’ve watched Common Cranes impressing each other and solidifying their relationships and its easy to see why someone would fall for these birds and record their ways in depth.
I applaud the fact that the author has given us a taste of those other species across the world as well as such a well-worked treatise on those found in the US. Very many of the photographs capture their beauty and particularly the birds as living landscape.
When it comes to these birds big is beautiful. However, when it comes to the books format big is not necessarily best. The problem here is that some of these wonderful photos have been blown up or printed badly and instead of sharply detailed they are often grainy and ever so slightly unfocussed. It’s a real shame as I have no doubt the photographer is excellent, I can only assume some error between reviewing the proofs and producing the final article.
Nevertheless, this is a book for the birder’s, or indeed almost anyone’s coffee table, and a to read at length on your desk perhaps. The narrative is such that I feel it would have been better served by a tome you could happily kick back in your recliner and peruse.
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