Raptors – The Curious Nature of Diurnal Birds of Prey

By Keith L Bildstein | Comstock Publishing Associates / Cornell University Press | Hardback | August 2017 | 332 Pages | 8 Colour Plates | ISBN: 9781501705793

The Publisher’s View: Raptors are formally classified into five families and include birds – such as eagles, ospreys, kites, true hawks, buzzards, harriers, vultures, and falcons – that are familiar and recognized by many observers. These diurnal birds of prey are found on every continent except Antarctica and can thrive in seemingly inhospitable spots such as deserts and the tundra. They have powerful talons and hooked beaks for cutting and tearing meat, and keen binocular vision to aid in their hunting prowess. Because of their large size, distinctive feeding habits, and long-distance flight patterns, raptors intrigue humans and have been the subject of much general interest as well as extensive scientific research.

Keith L. Bildstein has watched and studied raptors on five continents and is well prepared to explain their critical importance, not only as ecological entities but also as inspirational tokens across natural and human-dominated landscapes. His book offers a comprehensive and accessible account of raptors, including their evolutionary history, their relationships to other groups of birds, their sensory abilities, their general natural history, their breeding ecology and feeding behaviour, and threats to their survival in a human-dominated world. Biologically sound but readable, Raptors is a nontechnical overview of this captivating group. It will allow naturalists, birders, hawk-watchers, science educators, schoolchildren, and the general public, along with new students in the field of raptor biology, to understand and appreciate these birds, and in so doing better protect them.

Other Views: “Keith L. Bildstein’s Raptors provides one-stop shopping for anyone interested in how diurnal birds of prey go about their lives. Its global reach is impressive. This book is a tour de force that benefits both from its comprehensiveness and from Bildstein’s use of his personal experiences to illuminate raptor biology.”

– Alan Poole, Associate, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, author of Ospreys: A Natural and Unnatural History and retired editor of Birds of North America Online

“From wind turbines to West Nile virus, from rat poisons to habitat loss, raptors have never been in the forefront of so much international press as they are today, and Keith L. Bildstein has done a terrific job of providing essential background information that will allow readers to put these issues in the context of what we now know about raptor biology. Raptors is a stunning overview of its subject and will be welcomed by students, birders, and biologists. Bildstein is the perfect writer for this comprehensive guide to the charismatic birds of prey, having spent a lifetime building a community of worldwide raptor colleagues.”

– Allen Fish, Director, Golden Gate Raptor Observatory

Fatbirder View: I’ll keep this brief as I am in the pre-BirdFair tail-chasing mode and I want to get this ‘out there’ before then. Why? Because this is a bit of a ‘must have’ book. Everything said above is right, but the point of this book is not emphasised enough. What the author has done is to de-mystify raptors without taking anything away from their fascination. Birders around the world, and probably a great many un-obsessed citizens alike love the majesty of birds of prey. Most of us see this as almost mystical but the fact is there is a huge amount of knowledge out there but wrapped in the arcana of scientists. Mr Bildstein has mined all those sources for the rich veins of knowledge then refined the ore into the precious metal even us dullards can understand. Why they are how they are, what makes them special and so admired is all there and I for one am very grateful for it.This is a book that will keep your interest, enhance your understanding and probably make you even more obsessed than before!

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