Sunday, April 14, 2013

The World's Rarest Birds...


 I just received a new and gorgeous book from Princeton University Press, "The World's Rarest Birds" by Erik Hirschfeld, Andy Swash and Robert Still. This book started with an international photo competition to assemble a directory of critically endangered and endangered birds of the world. After two competitions were held, this book was ready for the press. Since many of these threatened birds have never been photographed and may indeed be extinct, Polish artist Tomasz Cofta has illustrated them. Some of the photos are the only known photos of these birds and the shots are amazing to see.

These lists were compiled by BirdLife International  and the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2012. Of the over 10,000 known species, 130 have gone extinct since 1500 and 14 species are listed as possibly extinct or possibly extinct in the wild. Including in this book are 197 Critically Endangered and 389 Endangered species.

The details and facts listed are astounding, from the regional directories and maps to the appendix of extinct species and the globally threatened bird families. Every page is covered with wonderful photos of these rare birds thanks to all of the dedicated photographers and there love of nature.

 White-bellied Cinclodes from Peru by Dubi Shapiro, the 1st prize winner for Critically Endangered species.

 The information is very detailed and easy to read.

 Marquesan Imperial Pigeon from the island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia by Tim Laman, 
1st prize winner for Endangered species.

The threats birds face are mostly due to humans and their need for more of everything not matter the cost. Number 1 is agriculture, number 2 is logging and number 3 is invasive species such as dogs and cats. Hawaii once had over 100 endemic species, now over one half are extinct.

 Silverey Wood Pigeon near the west coast of Sumatra by James Eaton, Commended Critically Endangered Category.
Contained within the regional directories section are these lists of species broken down by country, with range maps and life details. 
The QR codes can be read with free programs such as "Neoreader" on your your smartphone. That will bring up even more information from BirdLife International.
White-tipped Monarch by Denzil Morgan, Commended Endangered Category.
This bird occupies an area less than 200 square km on the island of Tanahjampea in the Flores Sea.

Not everything in this book is doom and gloom, there are a few bright facts, 7 species were removed from the lists last year. But this book really shows that we all need to do more to save these feathers miracles and to share the wonder of birding with more people.


  1. Super review of a book everybody should read. Then maybe more would be done for protection of the endangered species. Industry and money are the bird's worst enemies. these seem to rip up the habitat with no consideration of the damage the do. Alberta tar sands are a most despicable example.

    1. I think this book should be required in high schools. Unfortunately so many of today's young people aren't interested in what happens to this planet. They should be made aware before it's too late.

  2. I have to echo Red above. Great review. I'll be buying this book (I hope it's available over here across the pond). We've had another incident of many of our seabirds on the south west coast being found dead due to some sort of sticky substance that has been dumped in the shores off our coast! This is the second time this year and still nothing seems to be done about our promised Marine protection Zones! I'm glad there are some good news stories in this book as well.

    1. Hi Jenny, yes...this book will be available in the U.K. as well!
      The cost for cloth: £34.95 and here's the catalog number to help in your search:ISBN: 9780691155968

  3. This really is a wonderful 'eye opener' to what humanity is doing to nature. We have hardly any ground nesting parrots left due to introduced cats and foxes. I have also noticed That Darwin has a lot to answer for as some aggressive bird species have spread over our whole content to the detriment of smaller birds whose nestlings and eggs they consume.
    Great book review. I will certainly be getting one and thanks for pointing it out to all of us.

    1. Thank you Arija.
      Humans have had a terrible effect on nature...and it doesn't seem to be improving.

  4. Looks like an interesting book - but its a shame that many of the birds in it are there because of us.

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  5. Glad you posted this, I've added it to my reading list. It looks beautiful...

  6. Great post and review, thanks for sharing!

  7. This is an important book for all humans to read and heed.
    Thank you for publicizing it!

  8. Great review. I find it so disturbing.