The Unfeathered Bird

The Unfeathered Bird

by Katrina van Grouw
     
 

"The Unfeathered Bird is a marvelous fusion of art and science with a playful edge. The illustrations, very much the heart of the book, are superbly realized. Valuable and informative, the work has an irresistible charm that will appeal to a broad audience."—John Sill, wildlife artistSee more details below

Overview

"The Unfeathered Bird is a marvelous fusion of art and science with a playful edge. The illustrations, very much the heart of the book, are superbly realized. Valuable and informative, the work has an irresistible charm that will appeal to a broad audience."—John Sill, wildlife artist

Editorial Reviews

Scientist
The 300+ drawings—of skinned birds, their muscular and skeletal anatomy exposed in lifelike poses—are extraordinary, a sort of 2-D bird 'Body Worlds.'. . . [The text is] lucid, colloquial, packed with information, and leavened with humor, it brings a grasp of bird evolution and adaptation within any reader's reach. . . . A magnificent—and accessible—monograph on biodiversity.
— Annie Gottlieb
Nature
Van Grouw's focus on the skeleton rather than on external appearance gives the book a special power. Van Grouw's book was 25 years in the making: surprisingly quick, considering the work involved. An international list of friends, colleagues, farmers, conservationists—and the occasional taxidermist—donated dead birds for her (and her taxidermist husband) to pluck, skin and boil down to their skeletons. And draw—exquisitely.
— Alison Abbott
Fatbirder
This fusion of art and science is a fascinating coffee table book that boosts that genre to another level. It invites you to browse but then catches your interest and when I intended to look through it as if waiting for the coffee to arrive I found myself slowing up to read about how the environmental niche needs skeletal variation and what makes for diving and what merely submerging. Pre-DNA taxonomy has relied on skeletal differences to reveal the phylogenetic tree so this look beneath the skin is not mere curiosity but science with a capital 'S'. On the other hand there is a beauty on the form. I've always loved scientific drawings whether of birds or botanical specimens as there is not just science in their accuracy but beauty too.
— Bo Beolens
Birdbooker Report
This coffee-table book would make a good gift for someone with an interest in bird or anatomy art.
— Ian Paulsen
Guardian
Gives us genuinely new insights into the behaviour of living species.
— Stephen Moss
Nature - Alison Abbott
Van Grouw's focus on the skeleton rather than on external appearance gives the book a special power. Van Grouw's book was 25 years in the making: surprisingly quick, considering the work involved. An international list of friends, colleagues, farmers, conservationists—and the occasional taxidermist—donated dead birds for her (and her taxidermist husband) to pluck, skin and boil down to their skeletons. And draw—exquisitely.
Scientist - Annie Gottlieb
The 300+ drawings—of skinned birds, their muscular and skeletal anatomy exposed in lifelike poses—are extraordinary, a sort of 2-D bird 'Body Worlds.'. . . [The text is] lucid, colloquial, packed with information, and leavened with humor, it brings a grasp of bird evolution and adaptation within any reader's reach. . . . A magnificent—and accessible—monograph on biodiversity.
Fatbirder - Bo Beolens
This fusion of art and science is a fascinating coffee table book that boosts that genre to another level. It invites you to browse but then catches your interest and when I intended to look through it as if waiting for the coffee to arrive I found myself slowing up to read about how the environmental niche needs skeletal variation and what makes for diving and what merely submerging. Pre-DNA taxonomy has relied on skeletal differences to reveal the phylogenetic tree so this look beneath the skin is not mere curiosity but science with a capital 'S'. On the other hand there is a beauty on the form. I've always loved scientific drawings whether of birds or botanical specimens as there is not just science in their accuracy but beauty too.
Birdbooker Report - Ian Paulsen
This coffee-table book would make a good gift for someone with an interest in bird or anatomy art.
Guardian - Stephen Moss
Gives us genuinely new insights into the behaviour of living species.
Well-Read Naturalist - John Riutta
Superb. . . . Ranging from ratites to tanagers, van Grouw's illustrations and accompanying explanations cut through the usual scientific jargon common to anatomy books and make the form and function of her subjects' bodies easily intelligible.
Another Bird Blog - Phil Slade
[H]ere is a book with a wide appeal, a book which deserves to be studied by birders with a scientific and/or artistic bent, ornithologists, bird artists, bird photographers, biologists, natural historians, and artists of all persuasions. The author states that the original intention was a book aimed at artists and it was only during the early stages that she realized it could have wider appeal. In my opinion it was a realization which has come to fruition in a beautifully crafted, scholarly and ultimately fine book . . .
Discover Magazine
Haunting, stunning, a schooling for any other scientific illustrator out there. Illustrations that go beneath the feathered surface of birds and explore how their internal anatomy functions in different settings—one impressively underwater—is a scientific feat in itself. Truly challenges the idea that art is separate from scientific inquiry.
Palaeosam's Blog - Samuel Barnett
I challenge any reader to walk away from this book without being blown away by the remarkable and diverse nature of birds. Just when you think you have seen every trick Avian Anatomy has to throw at you, you turn the page and are greeted by the windpipe of Phonygammus keraudrenii (the Trumpet Manucode) or the tongue of Picus viridis (the Green Woodpecker).
Minneapolis Star-Tribune - Jim Williams
Turning each page [is] an adventure. Particularly welcome is the large size with which many images are so boldly presented. . . . It's early in the year, but I doubt if 2013 will see a book published that is more interesting or fascinating or better done than Ms. van Grouw's. It is $49.95, worth every penny, a world-wide birding expedition like no other.
Smithsonian Magazine - Megan Gambino
A work of passion. . . . [Katrina van Grouw] has used her experience in ornithology and taxidermy to draw, over the course of her career, 385 beautiful illustrations of birds—all, as the book's title suggests, without their feathers. Her work shows the skeletal and muscular systems of 200 different species, from ostriches to hummingbirds, parrots to penguins, in life-like poses.
BBC Wildlife Magazine - Tim Birkhead
Part of the strength of this anatomical extravaganza is its breadth, spanning the entire range of birds from primping parrots to posturing penguins, all in lifelike poses. Every image is arresting, but several—like the great cormorant, grey heron and rook—are so vibrant that they seem to fly off the page.
Audubon Magazine - Wayne Mones
The Unfeathered Bird is a treasure trove of 585 stunning anatomical drawings of 200 bird species in various states of undress. [Van Grouw] offers beautiful, enlightening illustrations of musculature and details of eyes, orbits, bills, ears, feet, skulls, wings, tongues, bones. Her drawings would be sufficient by themselves, but Ms. Von Grouw has also provided a thorough, accurate, and accessible text which further explains anatomical details and evolutionary relationships. There is nothing in the literature of birds or bird art that is anything like The Unfeathered Bird. Anyone who loves birds and bird art will want this volume.
y Stoddart

[A] remarkable blend of science and art, informative and factual but at the same time an expression of the beauty and wonder of life.
Caught by the River - Ceri Levy
Katrina van Grouw's book The Unfeathered Bird is a unique wonder that has joined the bird book firmament and as soon as I saw it I recognized it to be a monumental achievement.
A Charm of Finches - Penny Miller
If you are a birder with an interest in how birds do what they do, this is an excellent book. . . . This would also make a great gift for a birding friend who seems to have every bird book in print.
Examiner - Brad Sylvester
While it's tempting to say that The Unfeathered Bird reduces birding to its bare bones, and, indeed it is full of detailed drawings of the skeletal structures of birds as well as the musculature and other layers normally obscured by feathers, van Grouw does not give us just a bare bones look at birds. She fleshes out and feathers a wide variety of bird species with rich detail of their behavior, anatomy, and evolutionary adaptations.
Science
Although her detailed drawings of bones, skeletons, muscles, and other internal tissues would not be out of place in a treatise on avian anatomy, van Grouw intends them to reveal how birds' 'appearance, posture, and behavior influence, and are influenced by, their internal structure.'
Birding is Fun! - Robert Mortensen
Van Grouw's text describing what she's showing in the artwork is equally wonderful and enlightening. The Unfeathered Bird reveals things about birds that you may never have imagined, like the coiled wind-pipe of the Trumpet Manucode. Amazing!
Brain Pickings - Maria Popova
An illuminating and meticulously illustrated look at the brilliance of birds at the intersection of art, science and history, covering such intricate mysteries as how the ostrich lost two of its four toes and why the vulture diverged into radically different Old World and New World varieties. . . . Meticulously researched, gloriously illustrated, and absorbingly narrated, The Unfeathered Bird lives at the heart of that timeless temple where art and science meet to enrich one another with 'systematic wonder.'
Prairie Ice - John Carlson
This is a book that everyone interested in birds should own and in particular, every bird painter, sculptor, and carver should be required to have this book and study it well. Overall the level of detail in the text is well matched with the artwork resulting in a comprehensive whole that I think meets the authors goal of making this book a well done 'convergence of art and science; accessibility and erudition; old and new—without compromise and without apology.'
New York Times - James Gorman
Unsettling and irresistible. . . . [The birds] are drawn and described in the text, with great skill and attention to the details—of their structure, their evolution and their lives—and with a slightly wicked sense of humor that appears often enough to lift the book beyond another compendium of bird life. . . . This is a coffee-table book, and compelling images are enough to sell such a volume, but The Unfeathered Bird delivers on the other promise of such books, not always fulfilled, that there should be something to read. . . . [I]f you love the natural world for its astonishments, for something as obvious but thrilling as the huge variety of shapes that birds and their parts have evolved, then The Unfeathered Bird won't disappoint.
Birder's Library - Grant McCreary
The Unfeathered Bird is visually arresting and utterly unique. But I had been expecting that. What really surprised me is how much I loved reading it. It's fascinating, relevant, and will deepen your appreciation for these amazing creatures.
Flying Mullet - Eva Matthews
A one-of-a-kind book. . . . This book is like a marriage of a technical ornithology book and an artist's portfolio but even better because the text reads in an entertaining fashion for anyone that is interested in birds.
Science Visualization - Christopher Sloan
In a world where traditional science illustration is dying and being replaced by digital and other technologies, it's nice to see someone who has not succumbed—who still uses pencils and paintbrushes to create illustrations that are not only informative, but rise to the level of fine art. . . . The Unfeathered Bird deserves its place in the center of the coffee table: not only a must-have for the libraries of science artists, but as a classic for all lovers of natural history.
Birdwatch

This acts as both a fine reference and an expert artist's portfolio. It is an original work by a prodigiously talented bird artist . . . it deserves to be widely admired.
Naturalist's Journal, Standard-Times - Bruce Fellman
This magnificent volume will not only delight your eyes, it will change the way you see the natural world.
New Scientist - Adrian Barnett
A text spiked with quirky humour and replete with arcane bird lore and nuggets of natural history. . . . Monumentally impressive, 25 years in the making, The Unfeathered Bird is simply superb.
Birdwatch - David Callahan
Van Grouw's lifelong experience as fine artist and as a bird curator at the Natural History Museum, taxidermist and ringer have stood her in good stead in creating this hybrid marvel of history, art and ornithology. It is also readable, rather than filled with off-putting scientific terminology. . . . This acts as both a fine reference and an expert artist's portfolio. It is an original work by a prodigiously talented bird artist. . . . It deserves to be widely admired.
Cage & Aviary Birds - Rob Innes
[A] seductive guide to birds and their bodies.
Talking Naturally - Charlie Moores
Remarkable, beautiful, unexpected, and you will never almost certainly have seen anything like it before. I've been fascinated by birds for most of my life, but after reading The Unfeathered Bird I'm looking at them in a slightly different way, seeing more than I did before, and I'm pretty sure that anyone—birder or non-birder—will react in much the same way. So get one for a friend too . . .
What's in John's Freezer - John Hutchinson
The book is a precious thing that any fan of birds, especially scientists, really needs to have a hard copy of. While it claims not to be an anatomy text, its illustrations provide ample opportunities to use it for that purpose. But really the point of owning all 287-plus pages is to bask in the warmth of true, pure appreciation for classic ornithology, which I found infectious. It is a book by and for bird lovers, but also for those that find the interface of art and science to be fascinating.
Birdwatching Magazine - Matt Merritt
[A] rewarding read, giving you a unique perspective on species that you thought you knew well.
Carolina Bird Club Newsletter - Steve Shultz
The Unfeathered Bird makes for a solid addition to a birder's library as well as an attractive coffee table centerpiece. Unlike the photo mosaics that frequently inhabit such furniture, van Grouw's work may spark more than passing conversation as your guests explore the inner world of birds.
ABA Blog - Donna Schulman
A world of skeletal pleasure.
BirdWatching Magazine
[Van Grouw] appraised her subjects through trained, perceptive eyes, subjected them to the workings of a selective, imaginative brain, and then let her interpretations flow out through her pencil. The results are minor miracles: A Great Spotted Woodpecker, skinless and featherless except for its long tail, braces against a tree trunk. A European Robin, with worm but sans skin, crouches on the handle of a spade. A skeletal European Nightjar hawks insects in mid-air. Each is an avian Lazarus, returned to life after consignment to the specimen drawer.
British Birds - David Parkin
All in all, this is a fascinating book, with masses of detailed description of birds' structure, and the author relates this to their function and ultimately ecology.
Ibis - Joanne Cooper
The illustrations are the undoubted highlight of the book, but the text is not to be overlooked. It is fluently written and I think happily achieves its aim of being accessible to the general reader. . . . [T]his is overall an impressive book. It is also unusual, deeply individual and probably best enjoyed on its own terms—there is, after all, nothing else quite like it around.
Biologist - Jean Wilson
I cannot help but draw some comparison with Leonardo da Vinci when it comes to Van Grouw's amazing observational skills.
Emu - Alan Feduccia
Rarely does a new bird book elicit the kind of excitement I felt when I first feasted by eyes on The Unfeathered Bird. . . . The effect of van Grouw's art is astounding: beneath the feathers, diverse birds show amazing anatomical similarity, the result of a highly restrictive structural blueprint dictated by biomechanical constraints of flight in the form of aerodynamic adaptations, still present in flightless birds. One can learn a great deal of the avian design by this approach, and although some form of many of these anatomical drawings are present in the older books and literature, this is the first modern attempt to bring a wide array of varied avian anatomy together under one cover. The result is splendid!
Guild of Natural Science Illustrators - Bruce Bartrug
A unique treatise on bird anatomy that should be in every natural history illustrator's library.
Birdman of Lauderdale - Clay Christensen
You can open this gorgeous volume to any page and quickly get lost in the revelations of what magnificent and wondrous creatures we share this planet with. It's truly a magnum opus.
From the Publisher
"The Unfeathered Bird is a must for anyone who appreciates birds or avian art. As reviewer of this unusual book, I promise that each reader will never look at any bird the same way again."—Gene Wilhelm, Pennsylvania Birds

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691151342
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/29/2013
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
729,546
Product dimensions:
10.40(w) x 12.30(h) x 1.10(d)

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