By Ron Toft | A&C Black | Hardback | Aug 2014 | ISBN-13: 9781408178355 | 224 pages, 550 colour photos and colour illustrations

The Publisher’s View:Birds are one of the most popular and visible forms of all wildlife and are inextricably linked with the development of human cultures all around the world. Over the years some of the most eye-catching species of bird have been officially or unofficially adopted by countries as symbols of their national identity; there are now almost 100 national birds spanning every imaginable group from condors to parrots, trogons to frigatebirds.

Both a comprehensive listing and guide book, National Birds of the World provides a range of information from species data to how these birds have been used and abused through the ages. It recounts tales of how they came to be adopted and presents a wide range of official and cultural contexts where they appear from feathers in tribal costumes to stamps and currency.

Other Views: “…The book provides a fascinating insight into how a bird is chosen as the national symbol, the part they play in the past and present culture of the country and how they are being expressed as the national bird (stamps, flags, currency, coat of arms…). It also provides a short guide to some of the world’s most spectacular and bizarre species such as the Resplendent Quetzal (Guatemala), Kagu (New Caledonia) and the Hoatzin (Guyana). Whilst it concentrates on a very specific topic, this is an interesting book and well worth a read.” – Allan Archer, BTO news, September 2014

The Author: Ron Toft is a freelance wildlife journalist and photographer. He is editor of the It’s A Wild World nature pages on travel website. He travels the world in search of imagery and writes for magazines all over the world including Travel Zambia, Good Motoring, The Countryman, Veterinary Times and for numerous airline and ferry titles. He is a weekly contributor on aviculture or ornithology to Cage & Aviary Birds.

Fatbirder View: I see this as a nice workman like effort. I checked to see if Fatbirder had missed any and indeed we had so they immediately got added. So, why get the book when all the known national birds are listed on my website… well, for a start I don’t give a history of how and when these names have been adopted. There is much more besides, a brief species account, a nice picture and background on the process of deciding upon a choice and even some insights into the cultural significance of the birds.

It’s a great addition to my reference library and I have almost nothing negative to say… except perhaps that there are a few copy editing issues. I’ve found, on a fairly perfunctory trawl, letters missing at ends of scientific names, ‘there’ used instead of ‘their’, and other typos. Don’t blame the author for these as they should have been picked up at the final proofing stage.



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