By Michael Fogden, Marianne Taylor & Sheri L Williamson | Ivy Press | Paperback | September 2016 | 400 Pages | 320 Colour Photographs, Colour Distribution Maps | ISBN: 9781782404224
The Publisher’s View:The first standalone title to profile all 337 known species
Life-size photography of over 300 birds, presenting serious reference in a compact format
Hummingbirds have always held popular appeal, with their visual brilliance, extraordinary flight dexterity, and jewel-like size and colour. But it is almost as if their beauty has blinded us to their importance. Only recently has their serious scientific study started to gain the attention it demands. With the increasing interest in biodiversity, and the hummingbirds’ position as the second most diverse bird group after flycatchers, they are a subject growing in significance with each new species discovery. Hummingbirds presents every species, arranged taxonomically, with over 300 birds shown in dazzling, life-size, cut-out photography. Concise descriptions, written by two of the world’s leading experts, are digitally enhanced through QR-code links to movie footage of flight, sound, and behaviour. Presented in a compact format adorned with sprayed page edges.
Other Views:“…While perhaps a bit subject-specific to be carrying around in the field in South America, where there is such an abundance of other birdlife, this is a fantastic reference for the bookshelf. Not only is it a handy go-to guide for troublesome individuals encountered in the field, but the visual spectacle it offers ensures that it’s also an absorbing general read for birders and non-birders alike. Its outstanding presentation is largely thanks to the phenomenal quality of modern-day digital photography – such a beautiful guide simply would not have been possible two decades ago.” – Josh Jones, Saturday 15th October 2016, www.birdguides.com
“…While this might be a tall order, some may feel that this relegates what is clearly an accomplished publication to somewhere between the coffee table and the reference shelf. Having said that, there is still a lot of information packed into this superbly designed and easy-to-read volume.” – Justin Walker, BTO book reviews
“…If you have an appreciation of hummingbirds, you will want a copy of this book. It is nice to see life-sized photos of the birds and to have so many species together in one relatively compact book. Just keep in mind this book is a general summary or overview of the birds; that not all birds are shown; and, the book is more of a beginning resource to help learn what hummingbirds exist and not as a field or identification guide.” – Avian Review blog, 24-04-2014
The Authors:Michael Fogden (Ecuador, South America) and his wife Susan have spent the past 35 years as freelance writers and photographers. They have written 11 books and numerous articles, and in 2008 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Nature Photography Association. Marianne Taylor (Kent, UK) is a freelance writer, editor and illustrator. She has worked as editor for the bird book publisher Christopher Helm and a subeditor on the magazine Birdwatch. Sheri L. Williamson (Arizona, USA) is an ornithologist, award-winning writer, and author of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America. Since 1996, she has worked as director of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory.
Fatbirder View:Hummingbirds are magical. If fairies were South American, rather than European folklore they would have derived from these tiny flying jewels. Could there be anyone who, having seen a hummingbird would not be in love with them? Just like Chris Packham in the intro to this book I had wanted to see the world’s smallest bird since childhood, when I did see it in Cuba the Bee Humming was, in Al Batt’s words, an onion bird; a life bird so much wanted that it makes you cry. One of the happiest experiences of my birding life was in a Panama rainstorm when maybe 100 hummingbirds flew out of the rain to the feeders at the Pipeline Road centre. I sat surrounded as (you can see a video to prove it on You-Tube under the same title) I was ‘fanned by the wings of angels’.To have life-sized photographs of all the world’s hummers in one relatively small volume is a joy. It is nothing short of miraculous that the photographs are as good as they are and one can only imagine the hours spent stalking and the hundreds of not good enough shots taken to achieve pictures worthy of inclusion. Of course that many are taken at very high speed and in less than perfect light, and that it must be really difficult to manipulate them to be truly life sized, means that not all are perfect. Some are a tad grainy, others less than crisp or dulled by poor light, but that is nit-picking as they all show the ID features necessary to separate some hard to ID birds.Still nit-picking some of the maps could be better thought out. In some cases certain areas are enlarged to show Caribbean distribution, others not when perhaps they should have been. Like any birder I looked for species I have seen and found one that can be found in Trinidad showing a map of the whole of southern America whereas, given the physical limitations of distribution a few islands and a part of the mainland writ large would have made it easier to see where they can be found without using a magnifying glass.My nit-picking aside this is a book anyone contemplating a trip across to the Americas will want to own… used in conjunction with a good field guide before you go it would definitely enhance your ID skills as well as whetting your appetite!
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