Atlas of Bird Migration: Tracing the Great Journeys of the World's Birds

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"The photos and illustrations in this large volume are so beautiful that one is tempted to skim the text. . . . That, however, would be a mistake: while brief, the text provides all the information readers need to understand the how, why and where of bird migration."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Every year, billions of birds leave their North American breeding grounds for winter quarters thousands of ...

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"The photos and illustrations in this large volume are so beautiful that one is tempted to skim the text. . . . That, however, would be a mistake: while brief, the text provides all the information readers need to understand the how, why and where of bird migration."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Every year, billions of birds leave their North American breeding grounds for winter quarters thousands of miles south. That so many birds migrate so far through life-threatening conditions and to the same place each year is simply stunning.

This lavishly illustrated book provides comprehensive information on migration and its great mystery: How do the birds know where to go? The latest scientific discoveries are explained, and a comprehensive directory presents accurate profiles and chronicles the migratory routes of more than 500 typical migrant species. Colorful maps, photographs, calendars and fact files feature easy-to-read symbols and abbreviations.

Atlas of Bird Migration includes:

  • North American birds of prey
  • Hummingbirds, grosbeaks and starlings
  • Eurasian shorebirds, storks and cranes
  • Winter visitors from the Far North, such as swans, geese and finches
  • African, South American and Australasian migrants
  • Migratory sea birds, such as penguins, albatrosses and terns.

The use of satellite tracking methods, current environmental threats and conservation initiatives are explained, and a comprehensive catalog of migrating species from all continents closes the book.

Using specially devised computer-generated maps, plus full-color photos and illustrations that together represent birds in nature and in close-up detail, the atlas first explains the basics of bird migration and then traces the journeys of more than a hundred species, including detailed information and an illustration of each.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The photos and illustrations in this large volume are so beautiful that one is tempted to skim the text, in part because there seems to be so little of it. That, however, would be a mistake: while brief, the text provides all the information readers need to understand the how, why and where of bird migration. The authors note that it would be impossible to cover every species on every continent and ocean, so they've chosen to discuss "index" species-e.g., swans or sandpipers as a group-to convey the general principles that govern all bird migration, as opposed to species-specific characteristics. The first section is a primer on bird migration and habitat usage patterns, consisting of short, illustrated essays on topics like the evolution of migration, the mechanics of flight, birds' navigational methods and how human development affects migration patterns. Succeeding sections examine different families of migrating birds according to geographical distribution, and each has carefully designed maps that show birds' seasonal ranges and migratory routes. The use of color to describe, clarify, distinguish and compare migration patterns is exceptional, and clear explanations of complicated topics (e.g., how birds fly) make it an excellent text for middle and high school students as well as adults. Beautiful and functional, this is a worthwhile read for bird lovers. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
A visual feast, this book offers fine browsing compared with Paul Kerlinger's How Birds Migrate (LJ 8/95), the choice of those who want a good read. Elphick's text is well done, but the strength of this compilation is the profusion of paintings, photos, maps, tables, charts, and sidebars with lengthy but vital captions. Coming from such varied locales as England, Mississippi, Australia, and South Africa, the contributors help create an atlas that is worldwide in scope: coverage includes "Birds on the Move" (a general discourse on migration); big sections on migrants of North America, Eurasia, the far north, the sea, and the Southern Hemisphere; "Almost Migrations"; and a "Catalog of Migrants," an annotated list of an additional 500 migrant species with distances traveled. Good as these new books are, they supplement and partially update rather than replace classics such as Jean Dorst's The Migration of Birds (1962) and G.V.T. Matthews's Bird Navigation (1968. 2d ed.), but it is a pleasure to recommend The Atlas of Bird Migration for academic and larger public libraries.-Henry T. Armistead, formerly with Thomas Jefferson Univ. Lib., Philadelphia
School Library Journal

Adult/High School
An international team of specialists has created a beautiful resource explaining, mapping, and illustrating bird migrations worldwide. In consistently clear, jargon-free prose, and with an abundance of superb visual aides, one of nature's greatest wonders is presented in a manner sure to appeal to everyone from the trained biologist and expert birdwatcher to those who barely know the difference between a hawk and a sparrow. Only recently, with the aid of new scientific methods including global-satellite tracking, have scientists begun to understand the full complexity of the awe-inspiring spectacle. The authors incorporate the latest knowledge on how migration evolved; on patterns of migration; and on how birds know when to start, where to go, and what happens when weather, climatic changes, and manmade obstacles get in the way. Using innovative and attractively presented computer-generated maps, they illustrate the migration routes of more than 100 species around all parts of the globe. They also provide helpful breeding/migration calendars, a fact box for each species, and numerous full-color illustrations and photographs. In addition, the volume contains a catalog of migrations summarizing the routes of some 500 species and essays addressing environmental threats to birds and conservation efforts worldwide. This atlas is a good choice for the reference shelf, but many readers might also want to read it cover to cover.
—Robert SaundersonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

The Star-Ledger (Newark) - Claudia Perry
If you want an understanding of what's showing up at your feeder ... or you have a birder on your gift list, [this book] will be nearly perfect.
Wildlife Activist Book Reviews - Frederic Brock
The book is loaded with excellent maps, drawings, and photos.
Globe and Mail - Martin Levin
Consistently fascinating, beautifully illustrated and cleverly arranged.
The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - Lionel Gould (wire story)
The Atlas of Bird Migration, edited by Jonathan Elphick, iks a current and fascinating treatise on bird migration.... The atlas is loaded with neat, interesting observations.
The Standard (St. Catharines), Sun Times (Owen Sou) - Lionel Gould
The [book] is a current and fascinating treatise on bird migration.... The atlas is loaded with interesting observations.
Muskoka Today - Lois Cooper
This book heightens our appreciation of birds and their natural intelligence.
American Profile - Neil Pond
Bird watchers, nature lovers and anyone who's ever gazed in awe as a flock of geese headed south will love this handsome coffee-table compendium.
Science News
Elphick ... uses vivid images, maps, and computer re-creations to document the migration patterns of winged voyagers everywhere
Wildlife Conservation
Bird enthusiasts, naturalists, and inquiring readers will enjoy this exciting presentation of one of the great wonders of the natural world.
The National Post
Gorgeous photographs and lucid explanations of complex topics ... make for a fascinating and invaluable reference book.
American Reference Books Annual 2008 - Charles Leck
A lavishly illustrated reference for a worldwide overview of bird migration... The ornithological authors have made an authoritative text that will be welcomed by bird enthusiasts and naturalists in general.
Salem Press (library reference publisher) - Kim Peterson
The Atlas of Bird Migration goes beyond a birder's guide, skillfully blending beautiful photography with work maps, migration charts, and illustrations of bird features like wing shape and flight patterns. Formatted like a coffee table book, the atlas brings science and beauty together for an informative read that provides a helpful focus on migration.
Nature's Garden - Cynthia Van Hazinga
The book includes calendars, essays, and fact files on a catalog of migrants. It also has information about techniques, timing, the influence of genetics, barriers, weather, and climate, all clearly presented.
[The book] is an invaluable resource for ornithologists, birders, and conservationists... Many interesting facts are unearthed [and] much of the Atlas provides detailed accounts of families of migrant birds. Specific species are used to illustrate—with drawings, maps, and photographs— the various paths of migration. These treatments...provide an excellent oveview of the range and styles of migration they participate inc. Each of the family accounts has information boxes with more cool bird facts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554079711
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/25/2011
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 973,724
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Elphick is a natural history author and consultant with a 40-year career in ornithology. His many books include the award-winning Birdwatcher's Handbook and Birds: The Art of Ornithology.

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Read an Excerpt

Using this book

Bird migration is a complex subject, and knowledge of patterns of movement for some species and in many areas of the world is, at best, sketchy. The information given in this book is accurate, as far as is currently known, but the subject remains one about which there is much yet to be discovered.

Within each chapter, species are arranged according to the systematic order, which is approximately the order in why they evolved. This scientifically accepted system has the advantage over other methods of organization that birds that are related are grouped together. Species have been chosen for inclusion on one of two major criteria: their migrations are typical of one or more patterns of movement and/or there are interesting stories associated with their migrations.

Common names for birds tend to vary and are often a matter of choice or editor's preference; those used in the book reflect general usage as far as possible.

[Information is also provided on using: "The maps," "The Calendars," "The Fact Files," and "Symbols and Abbreviations."]

Introduction: Birds on the move

Migration is probably the most awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. What it lacks compared with the enormous power of the weather, an earthquake, or a volcano, it makes up for in romance — a small bird pits its wits against the elements and accomplishes, as routine, a journey that is truly superhuman. Outlandish theories have been proposed to explain the seasonal ebb and flow of bird populations, including that the birds went to the moon, were transformed into other species, or spent the winter in the mud of lakes or ponds. The knowledge of what really happens is, in many ways, no less fantastic.

Over the centuries, people have struggled to understand birds' migrations and how they manage them year after year. How can they fly such tremendous distances without becoming lost or so exhausted that they die? How have today's complex migration patterns evolved from what were once, presumably, simple movements? And what particular problems are migratory birds facing now and are they coping? Although many parts of the mystery have been unraveled, there is still much that remains to be discovered about this fascinating phenomenon.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, (H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment)
Using this book

Birds on the move

  • Introduction
  • How migration evolved
  • Patterns of migration
  • When to travel
  • Flight techniques
  • Flight power and speed
  • How high do birds fly?
  • Preparing for the journey
  • Timing
  • Genetics and migration
  • Orientation and navigation
  • Routes and barriers
  • Staging posts
  • Weather and climate
  • How migration is studied
  • Threats and conservation
North American migrants
  • Introduction
  • Patterns of migration
  • Ducks
  • Birds of Prey
  • Cranes
  • Plovers, gulls, and terns
  • Nightjars
  • Swifts, swallows, and martins
  • Hummingbirds
  • Woodpeckers
  • Tyrant flycatchers
  • Thrushes
  • Vireos
  • Tanagers
  • Wood warblers
  • Bunting, grosbeaks, and starlings
  • American blackbirds and orioles
Eurasian migrants
  • Introduction
  • Patterns of migration
  • Ducks
  • Shorebirds
  • Storks
  • Birds of Prey
  • Gamebirds
  • Crakes and rails
  • Cranes
  • Gulls and terns
  • Pigeons
  • Cuckoos
  • Bee-eaters, rollers, and hoopoes
  • Swifts, swallows, and martins
  • Wagtails and pipits
  • Chats and thrushes
  • Warblers
  • Shrikes
  • Flycatchers
Winter visitors from the far north
  • Introduction
  • Patterns of migration
  • Swans
  • Geese
  • Shorebirds
  • Thrushes
  • Buntings and finches
Southern hemisphere migrants
  • Introduction
  • South American migrants
  • African migrants
  • Australasian migrants
Migratory sea birds
  • Introduction
  • Patterns of migration
  • Penguins
  • Albatrosses
  • Shearwaters and petrels
  • Skuas, jaegers, gulls, and auks
  • Terns
Almost migrations
  • Introduction
  • Irruptions
Catalog of migrants

Further reading

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 4, 2013

    Great book

    I have become very interested in the migration of birds. This book is so interesting and I am learning a lot.

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