Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin

Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin


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Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin by Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny, Bob Montgomerie

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691151977
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 02/16/2014
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 810,134
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.80(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Chapter 1 Yesterday's Birds 1

Chapter 2 The Origin and Diversification of Species 43

Chapter 3 Birds on the Tree of Life 75

Chapter 4 Ebb and Flow 117

Chapter 5 Ecological Adaptations for Breeding 161

Chapter 6 Form and Function 201

Chapter 7 The Study of Instinct 245

Chapter 8 Behavior as Adaptation 287

Chapter 9 Selection in Relation to Sex 323

Chapter 10 Population Studies of Birds 355

Chapter 11 Tomorrow's Birds 389

Afterword 425

Appendix 1: Some Histories of Ornithology 431

Appendix 2: Five Hundred Ornithologists 434

Notes 443

References 467

Index 497

Image Credits 519

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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.