Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build

Overview

Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. Avian Architecture describes how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, deconstructing all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use. This spectacularly illustrated book features 300 full-color images and more than 35 case studies that profile key species worldwide. Each ...

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Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build

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Overview

Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. Avian Architecture describes how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, deconstructing all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use. This spectacularly illustrated book features 300 full-color images and more than 35 case studies that profile key species worldwide. Each chapter covers a different type of nest, from tunnel nests and mound nests to floating nests, hanging nests, woven nests, and even multiple-nest avian cities. Other kinds of avian construction—such as bowers and harvest wells—are also featured.

Avian Architecture includes intricate step-by-step sequences, visual spreads on nest-building materials and methods, and insightful commentary by a leading expert.

  • Illustrates how birds around the world design, engineer, and build their nests
  • Features architectural blueprints, step-by-step sequences, visual spreads on nest-building materials and methods, and expert commentary
  • Includes 300 full-color images
  • Covers more than 100 bird species worldwide


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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
I live in a nice clapboard house and work in a gleaming steel-and-glass skyscraper, but after reading Avian Architecture I feel cheated. I'll never get to enjoy the comforts of the nest of a long-tailed tit.
— Henry Fountain
Audubon Blog
Goodfellow explores nest types and their design and construction. The text is excellent and the book is richly illustrated with drawings, photographs, and a selection of architectural blueprints for many nests.
— Wayne Mones
Audubon.org
[Goodfellow] sharpens the focus to explore nests only from the perspective of their architecture—their form, function, construction materials, how they are made, and by whom. . . . We love finding nests but rarely pay attention to how they are built. Avian Architecture will magnify your sense of wonder. The book is chockablock full of detail presented in a very accessible way.
— Wayne Mones
West Virginia Gazette
[Avian Architecture] is a compelling read. I couldn't put it down. Goodfellow organizes nests into general types: scrapes, holes, platforms, cups, woven nests and so on. He describes each nest type in great detail and illustrates the process with detailed artwork and photos.
— Scott Shalaway
Birding Is Fun
This has got to be one of the coolest bird books I've ever come across. . . . Avian Architecture may unravel some of the mystery behind how birds make their nests, but Peter Goodfellow thoroughly reveals a complexity in nest building that makes birds all the more astounding. . . . Trust me, you're [going to] want this!
— Robert Mortenson
A Charm of Finches
Avian Architecture is a beautiful book with lots of pictures and illustrations of the many styles of nests birds build. In addition, there are interesting insights into birds around the world.
Birdbooker Report
A well-illustrated introduction into the nest building behavior of birds.
— Ian Paulsen
A Towheeblog
The illustrations are a rich combination of fine photographs and necessary graphics that can show structural cutaways and design elements no photo can reproduce. From the simple but elegantly hidden scrape nests to the large, unwieldy platform nests of some of our largest birds, this book gives you the how and where of the avian builder's method.
— Harry Fuller
Birder's Report
A must have book if you have ever wondered how birds are able to build such incredible nests. Peter Goodfellow has created a fascinating read combining "blueprint" drawings, with explanations, of each nest type as well as detailed drawings of the techniques and materials used by some specific species of birds.
Portland Press Herald
The drawings and text allow the author to give the reader a firm understanding of how various nests are made. The coverage goes from simple nests to more complex, sometimes communal nests. . . . The book covers so much more: mound incubators that use the heat of composting material, platform nesters, colonial nesters and others. The text is easy to understand and can be shared with children. This book provides a great entry to the wonder of birds.
— Herb Wilson
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Goodfellow provides blueprints for each nest type, a list of building materials, and case studies. All are illustrated with photographs and superb artwork, and explained in clear, concise text. Bird nests can be as fascinating as the bird itself. Avian Architecture makes that point clear. . . . I read Avian Architecture cover to cover without putting it down.
— Jim Williams
Examiner.com
Birds weave and wind, dig and daub, scrape and sculpt some of the most amazing homes in the animal kingdom. Avian Architecture reveals the genius hard-wired into birds' brains. They are, without regard to the variety of their collective techniques, all master builders. . . . It isn't often that we think of a bird book as a real page turner, but Goodfellow's Avian Architecture is just that.
— Brad Sylvester
Words about Birds
Packed with loads of information and knowledge on bird nests and the process of nest building.
— Tim Schreckengost
Birder's Library
Scarcely a page was turned in Avian Architecture that I did not learn something new and incredible. . . . I've been waiting a long while for a book like Avian Architecture. I was not disappointed. It is nothing short of a revelation to discover not only the variety of structures that birds build, but also (especially) how they are constructed.
— Grant McCreary
FatBirder
A really fascinating panorama of one of the wonders of avian life—excellent!
— Bo Beolens
birdfreak.com
Beautifully illustrated. . . . Avian Architecture is a great book to learn more insight into the world of birds and how they nest.
and the Peanut blog

I always admired and was amazed by the nests, and I had a cursory understanding of their structure, but it took reading Avian Architecture to really bring the engineering to life and deepen my appreciation of the building process. It's a great book to add to your birding library. I love it. Blue prints, photographs and lovely watercolors help you assimilate a lot of information quickly. It won't take long to help you understand another facet of bird life.
Science News
A browsable, amply illustrated overview of avian construction from mere scrapes in the sand to edible structures people prize for soup.
BirdWatching Magazine
Exceptional illustrations and photographs help author Peter Goodfellow describe scrapes in the dirt, tunnels, domes, mounds, cups, and other types of nests birds build. The book's jaw-dropping scenes include a hornbill sealed in a nest hole, a colony of densely packed albatrosses, and the many colorful walkways made by bowerbirds.
— Matt Mendenhall
Choice
Numerous attractive, inviting diagrams, sidebars, paintings, and sketches supplement the photographs. The minimal text is tied to this rich, illustrative material making the book primarily one for browsing . . .
Discover magazine

Peter Goodfellow's recent book, Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer & Build, captures a lifetime of not just observing birds but the unsung structures they create. Bird nests can be simple or elaborate, as small as a hazelnut . . . or enormous, weighing several tons. They can last a few weeks or a century, and can be isolated or one among a half million of similar nests. Divided into 12 chapters based on types of nests and other avian construction, the book revives Goodfellow's 'schoolboy excitement of "bird nesting"' with case studies from around the world accompanied by intricate line drawings and blueprints, as well as hundreds of photos.
— Meera Subramanian
Bloomsbury Review
Avian Architecture offers more than mere knowledge. Through the factual exploration of avian nest building, this book not only informs but also imparts a sense of wonder.
Down East Magazine
Avian Architecture is a hardcover book, hefty in the hands, glorious throughout, and will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of Maine's great outdoors, especially if you are a birder. Even if you are not, a walk around the back yard will be enhanced by what you learn in this book.
— George Smith
Journal of Field Ornithology
[T]his is a book that would be appreciated by a large audience of bird aficionados, in a format that is accessible and really enjoyable. The author's interest is contagious and will leave readers inspired to discover and admire bird nests in the wild.
— Sabrina S. Taylor
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Goodfellow provides blueprints for each nest type, a list of building materials, and case studies. All are illustrated with photographs and superb artwork, and explained in clear, concise text. Bird nests can be as fascinating as the bird itself. Avian Architecture makes that point clear. . . . I read Avian Architecture cover to cover without putting it down.
— Jim Williams
Discover Magazine
Peter Goodfellow's recent book, Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer & Build, captures a lifetime of not just observing birds but the unsung structures they create. Bird nests can be simple or elaborate, as small as a hazelnut . . . or enormous, weighing several tons. They can last a few weeks or a century, and can be isolated or one among a half million of similar nests. Divided into 12 chapters based on types of nests and other avian construction, the book revives Goodfellow's 'schoolboy excitement of "bird nesting"' with case studies from around the world accompanied by intricate line drawings and blueprints, as well as hundreds of photos.
— Meera Subramanian
New York Times - Henry Fountain
I live in a nice clapboard house and work in a gleaming steel-and-glass skyscraper, but after reading Avian Architecture I feel cheated. I'll never get to enjoy the comforts of the nest of a long-tailed tit.
Audubon Blog - Wayne Mones
[Goodfellow] sharpens the focus to explore nests only from the perspective of their architecture—their form, function, construction materials, how they are made, and by whom. . . . We love finding nests but rarely pay attention to how they are built. Avian Architecture will magnify your sense of wonder. The book is chockablock full of detail presented in a very accessible way.
West Virginia Gazette - Scott Shalaway
[Avian Architecture] is a compelling read. I couldn't put it down. Goodfellow organizes nests into general types: scrapes, holes, platforms, cups, woven nests and so on. He describes each nest type in great detail and illustrates the process with detailed artwork and photos.
Birding Is Fun - Robert Mortenson
This has got to be one of the coolest bird books I've ever come across. . . . Avian Architecture may unravel some of the mystery behind how birds make their nests, but Peter Goodfellow thoroughly reveals a complexity in nest building that makes birds all the more astounding. . . . Trust me, you're [going to] want this!
eBirdseed.com
In a word, this book is 'magnificent'. Its 160 pages are loaded with the kind of photos and artwork that we've come to expect from Princeton University Press—exceptional. . . . This book delivers 100% of what the title promises—the design, engineering, and building of birds' nests.
Birdbooker Report - Ian Paulsen
A well-illustrated introduction into the nest building behavior of birds.
A Towheeblog - Harry Fuller
The illustrations are a rich combination of fine photographs and necessary graphics that can show structural cutaways and design elements no photo can reproduce. From the simple but elegantly hidden scrape nests to the large, unwieldy platform nests of some of our largest birds, this book gives you the how and where of the avian builder's method.
Portland Press Herald - Herb Wilson
The drawings and text allow the author to give the reader a firm understanding of how various nests are made. The coverage goes from simple nests to more complex, sometimes communal nests. . . . The book covers so much more: mound incubators that use the heat of composting material, platform nesters, colonial nesters and others. The text is easy to understand and can be shared with children. This book provides a great entry to the wonder of birds.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune - Jim Williams
Goodfellow provides blueprints for each nest type, a list of building materials, and case studies. All are illustrated with photographs and superb artwork, and explained in clear, concise text. Bird nests can be as fascinating as the bird itself. Avian Architecture makes that point clear. . . . I read Avian Architecture cover to cover without putting it down.
Examiner.com - Brad Sylvester
Birds weave and wind, dig and daub, scrape and sculpt some of the most amazing homes in the animal kingdom. Avian Architecture reveals the genius hard-wired into birds' brains. They are, without regard to the variety of their collective techniques, all master builders. . . . It isn't often that we think of a bird book as a real page turner, but Goodfellow's Avian Architecture is just that.
Words about Birds - Tim Schreckengost
Packed with loads of information and knowledge on bird nests and the process of nest building.
Birder's Library - Grant McCreary
Scarcely a page was turned in Avian Architecture that I did not learn something new and incredible. . . . I've been waiting a long while for a book like Avian Architecture. I was not disappointed. It is nothing short of a revelation to discover not only the variety of structures that birds build, but also (especially) how they are constructed.
FatBirder - Bo Beolens
A really fascinating panorama of one of the wonders of avian life—excellent!
BirdWatching Magazine - Matt Mendenhall
Exceptional illustrations and photographs help author Peter Goodfellow describe scrapes in the dirt, tunnels, domes, mounds, cups, and other types of nests birds build. The book's jaw-dropping scenes include a hornbill sealed in a nest hole, a colony of densely packed albatrosses, and the many colorful walkways made by bowerbirds.
Discover magazine - Meera Subramanian
Peter Goodfellow's recent book, Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer & Build, captures a lifetime of not just observing birds but the unsung structures they create. Bird nests can be simple or elaborate, as small as a hazelnut . . . or enormous, weighing several tons. They can last a few weeks or a century, and can be isolated or one among a half million of similar nests. Divided into 12 chapters based on types of nests and other avian construction, the book revives Goodfellow's 'schoolboy excitement of "bird nesting"' with case studies from around the world accompanied by intricate line drawings and blueprints, as well as hundreds of photos.
Down East Magazine - George Smith
Avian Architecture is a hardcover book, hefty in the hands, glorious throughout, and will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of Maine's great outdoors, especially if you are a birder. Even if you are not, a walk around the back yard will be enhanced by what you learn in this book.
Journal of Field Ornithology - Sabrina S. Taylor
[T]his is a book that would be appreciated by a large audience of bird aficionados, in a format that is accessible and really enjoyable. The author's interest is contagious and will leave readers inspired to discover and admire bird nests in the wild.
Pennsylvania Birds - Gene Wilhelm
[F]ew avian titles have left me spellbound and excited to read cover to cover through the night as Avian Architecture. Everything about this book, layout, color photographs, handsome blueprint illustrations, a fascinating subject that deserves this overdue exposure, and succinct text, proves that this book deserves the recent publication awards. . . . Avian Architecture deserves to be placed in the bookcase next to the best of all avian titles. Ornithologists, naturalists, teachers at all levels of education, yes, even the curious public will be thrilled with the contents of this primary reference.
Britannica.com gory McNamee

Fascinating, beautifully illustrated.
From the Publisher
"This is not a field guide for systematically identifying birds' nests. It's a sit-down-and-be-enchanted-by-the-skills-of-our-feathered-friends kind of book. The British Goodfellow is a longtime birder and former teacher who knows how to convey his deep expertise accessibly to his readers. . . . The book will charm any interested reader and will win birds more devotion with every viewing. Highly recommended."—
Library Journal (starred review)

"Exceptional illustrations and photographs help author Peter Goodfellow describe scrapes in the dirt, tunnels, domes, mounds, cups, and other types of nests birds build. The book's jaw-dropping scenes include a hornbill sealed in a nest hole, a colony of densely packed albatrosses, and the many colorful walkways made by bowerbirds."—Matt Mendenhall, BirdWatching Magazine

"Numerous attractive, inviting diagrams, sidebars, paintings, and sketches supplement the photographs. The minimal text is tied to this rich, illustrative material making the book primarily one for browsing . . ."—
Choice

"Fascinating, beautifully illustrated."—Gregory McNamee, Britannica.com

"Peter Goodfellow's recent book, Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer & Build, captures a lifetime of not just observing birds but the unsung structures they create. Bird nests can be simple or elaborate, as small as a hazelnut . . . or enormous, weighing several tons. They can last a few weeks or a century, and can be isolated or one among a half million of similar nests. Divided into 12 chapters based on types of nests and other avian construction, the book revives Goodfellow's 'schoolboy excitement of "bird nesting"' with case studies from around the world accompanied by intricate line drawings and blueprints, as well as hundreds of photos."—Meera Subramanian, Discover magazine

"Avian Architecture offers more than mere knowledge. Through the factual exploration of avian nest building, this book not only informs but also imparts a sense of wonder."—
Bloomsbury Review

"Avian Architecture is a hardcover book, hefty in the hands, glorious throughout, and will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of Maine's great outdoors, especially if you are a birder. Even if you are not, a walk around the back yard will be enhanced by what you learn in this book."—George Smith, Down East Magazine

"[T]his is a book that would be appreciated by a large audience of bird aficionados, in a format that is accessible and really enjoyable. The author's interest is contagious and will leave readers inspired to discover and admire bird nests in the wild."—Sabrina S. Taylor, Journal of Field Ornithology

"[F]ew avian titles have left me spellbound and excited to read cover to cover through the night as Avian Architecture. Everything about this book, layout, color photographs, handsome blueprint illustrations, a fascinating subject that deserves this overdue exposure, and succinct text, proves that this book deserves the recent publication awards. . . . Avian Architecture deserves to be placed in the bookcase next to the best of all avian titles. Ornithologists, naturalists, teachers at all levels of education, yes, even the curious public will be thrilled with the contents of this primary reference."—Gene Wilhelm, Pennsylvania Birds

Library Journal
As is clear from this book's format—an 8" × 10" hardcover, albeit slim at 160 pages—this is not a field guide for systematically identifying birds' nests. It's a sit-down-and-be-enchanted-by-the-skills-of-our-feathered-friends kind of book. The British Goodfellow is a longtime birder and former teacher who knows how to convey his deep expertise accessibly to his readers. Dividing his subject by 11 types of nests, plus a chapter on bowers, he starts each unit with an introduction to the why and how of the particular nest type, then he offers two pages of "blueprints" showing details of construction and dimension. Next, in one- and two-page "case studies," he presents examples of birds who build that type of structure. There are lovely color photos and illustrations throughout. (Coral Mula gets illustrator credit if you look hard.) The birds covered (there are 35 case studies but more than 100 species discussed) are from all around the world, e.g., a yellow-rumped cacique who weaves its nests in Brazil, a bald eagle's platform aerie in Florida. VERDICT The book will charm any interested reader and will win birds more devotion with every viewing. Highly recommended.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
Henry Fountain
I live in a nice clapboard house and work in a gleaming steel-and-glass skyscraper, but after reading Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer and Build I feel cheated. I'll never get to enjoy the comforts of the nest of a long-tailed tit.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691148496
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 6/5/2011
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 347,244
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Goodfellow is a retired English teacher and lifelong birdwatcher. His books include "Birds as Builders" and "A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Britain and Northern Europe".

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