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Books & Movie Reviews

Book Review: Around The World In 80 Birds

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Illustration by Ryuto Miyake

Around the World in 80 Birds is a new book written by Mike Unwin, with gorgeous, detailed illustrations by Ryuto Miyake. It is a masterpiece of art and words for the bird lover. 

The book combines folklore and facts about birds of significance from seven geographic regions: Africa, Eurasia, North America, South and Central America, South and Southeast Asia, Australasia, and  Oceans & Islands. 

Meet the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Peru's national bird, a songbird of myriad capabilities. Take the ritual dance during mating season when according to author, Unwin, the fluorescent scarlet males strut their stuff in flattering early morning and dusk light to compete for female attention. Males are polygamous and put their efforts into showing off fanciful displays, while the females - like many species throughout the world - are left to complete the breeding process, alas, alone. 

Kakapo, Illustration by Ryuto Miyake

Read about conservation efforts that saved the reclusive Kakapo of New Zealand from extinction. A parrot of great weight, the males weigh nearly 9 pounds, using their heft to dig impressive holes that amplify their voices, which in turn attracts a mate. A boom boom here, a boom boom there, and before you know it, females are inspecting prospective suitors inflated chests' air sacs flattering display. And then, like the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, the impregnated females are left alone to raise their young, as the males begin anew, calling out to their next birdie.

Monogamy is found in North America's Bald Eagle and Great Grey Owl, and serial monogamy in Antarctica's Emperor Penguin to name a few. 

Helmeted Hornbill
Helmeted Hornbill of Indonesia. Illustration courtesy of Ryuto Miyaka

The Sociable Weaver Bird in Namibia constructs huge multi-nest 'apartment blocks' in the desert, the Bar-headed Goose of China crosses the Himalayas twice a year, flying at dizzying heights, while France has the Common Nightingale, a songbird of nocturnal melodies used to entice females, and keep aggressors away. 

Many species have faced extinction by the hand of man whether for their feathers, meat, or bills such as the Helmeted Hornbill of Indonesia. And now with climate change lost habitat due to drought and sea level rise is wreaking havoc on bird populations everywhere.

Many descriptive bird facts and folklore make Around The World In 80 Birds a fascinating book that belongs on all bird-lovers shelves.

Around The World In 80 Birds written by Mike Unwin with illustrations by Ryuto Miyake is a winner.

To learn more about birds and conservation, check out Audubon.








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