Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin

Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin

4.5 2
by Tim Birkhead
     
 

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Ten Thousand Birds provides a thoroughly engaging and authoritative history of modern ornithology, tracing how the study of birds has been shaped by a succession of visionary and often-controversial personalities, and by the unique social and scientific contexts in which these extraordinary individuals worked. This beautifully illustrated book opens in the

Overview

Ten Thousand Birds provides a thoroughly engaging and authoritative history of modern ornithology, tracing how the study of birds has been shaped by a succession of visionary and often-controversial personalities, and by the unique social and scientific contexts in which these extraordinary individuals worked. This beautifully illustrated book opens in the middle of the nineteenth century when ornithology was a museum-based discipline focused almost exclusively on the anatomy, taxonomy, and classification of dead birds. It describes how in the early 1900s pioneering individuals such as Erwin Stresemann, Ernst Mayr, and Julian Huxley recognized the importance of studying live birds in the field, and how this shift thrust ornithology into the mainstream of the biological sciences. The book tells the stories of eccentrics like Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, a pathological liar who stole specimens from museums and quite likely murdered his wife, and describes the breathtaking insights and discoveries of ambitious and influential figures such as David Lack, Niko Tinbergen, Robert MacArthur, and others who through their studies of birds transformed entire fields of biology.

Ten Thousand Birds brings this history vividly to life through the work and achievements of those who advanced the field. Drawing on a wealth of archival material and in-depth interviews, this fascinating book reveals how research on birds has contributed more to our understanding of animal biology than the study of just about any other group of organisms.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The charming and witty work fills the needs of academic scientists and researchers as well as serious birders. . . . Anyone interested in natural science, birds, and history will enjoy this book immensely."—Choice

"Ten Thousand Birds provides a thoroughly engaging and authoritative history of modern ornithology."—Mike Thornton, Scottish Birds

"[A] scholarly and thought-provoking book. The authors should be congratulated and the work itself should be on the shelves of anybody remotely interested in the history of natural history and particularly the history of ornithology."—William Noblett, Archives of Natural History

"The volume strikes a fine balance between photos and text without being overly photocentric. . . . Ten Thousand Birds is a solid read for students of nature, avian enthusiasts, and scientists."—Howard O. Clark, Jr., Western North American Naturalist

"Appealing to both birders and scientists, Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin engages the reader on a journey through the history of modern ornithology from ornithology as a young science to ornithology as it is today. . . . Certainly an appealing read for those interested in ornithology as a science."—Tyler M. Harms, Iowa Bird Life

Library Journal
05/15/2014
This is the best history of ornithology ever. Most others are dated, focus on a limited period, or concern defined geographical areas. Birkhead (zoology, Univ. of Sheffield; Fellow of the Royal Society; Bird Sense), Jo Wimpenny (postdoctoral research associate, Univ. of Sheffield) and Bob Montgomerie (biology, Queens Univ., Ont.) explain the often complex, theoretical, or detailed schools of thought and research about birds in entertaining and authoritative ways. Their four-and-a-half-pound monograph is richly illustrated and thoroughly referenced. Chapters deal with evolution, ecology, anatomy, physiology, behavior, breeding, population studies, etc. Colorful full-page time lines have illustrations and citations with images of key scientists in those various fields. An appendix has thumbnail information about 500 ornithologists with photographs of 54. Discussions of personalities, controversies, research methods, and honors make the text a lively read. There are numerous autobiographical sketches, each several pages. Hundreds of these remarkable scientists receive consideration, including Jared Diamond, Konrad Lorenz, Roger Tory Peterson, and E.O. Wilson. What might have been a clunky, laborious catalog of often arcane academic endeavors is instead very readable and comprehensible, as well as comprehensive. VERDICT Most highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries and for all interested in nature and science.—Henry T. Armistead, formerly with Free Lib. of Philadelphia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691151977
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/16/2014
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
1,164,446
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.80(d)

Meet the Author

Tim Birkhead is professor of zoology at the University of Sheffield, where he teaches and conducts research on the behavioral ecology of birds with particular focus on reproduction. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and his books include The Wisdom of Birds and Bird Sense. Jo Wimpenny was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Sheffield during the writing of this book. Bob Montgomerie is professor of biology at Queen's University in Ontario, where he studies the evolution of plumage colors and sexual behavior in birds.

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Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
A_Sloan More than 1 year ago
Ten Thousand Praises The bird blogs that I follow have all been a flurry with praise for Ten Thousand Birds. The mix of science, history, personality, and human interest is unique and on that people find highly appealing. I was going to wait until it came to my public library, but the anticipation finally got to me. I am actually so pleased to have this gorgeous book in my personal collection not only for its physical qualities but its intellectual value. Never in recent history has there been such a complete book at the history of ornithology! I love this book because its all about the process. Each chapter focuses on different areas of understanding birds and the history of advancements within that focus. If you looked into migration for example, you'll find the vast array of hypotheses and tests performed in the 20th century fascinating! I should start looking for a birding guide for my homeland of Vermont, but until then, I am totally satisfied with Sheri Amsel's beautiful Vermont Nature Guide.
mel_bWI More than 1 year ago
Beautiful history, science and scholarship.