Books About Birds A guide to books about birds and birdwatching Home | Index | Search | Links | Contact


On this page

Books about bird books

This page lists books about bird books and other nature related books.

The books are arranged by publication date with the most recent at the top.

 

In the Field, Among the Feathered: A History of Birders and Their Guides

Thomas R. Dunlap

Oxford University Press

2012

"In the Field, Among the Feathered tells the history of field guides to birds in America from the Victorian era to the present, relating changes in the guides to shifts in science, the craft of field identification, and new technologies for the mass reproduction of images. Drawing on his experience as a passionate birder and on a wealth of archival research, Thomas Dunlap shows how the twin pursuits of recreation and conservation have inspired birders and how field guides have served as the preferred method of informal education about nature for well over a century. The book begins with the first generation of late 19th-century birdwatchers who built the hobby when opera glasses were often the best available optics and bird identification was sketchy at best. As America became increasingly urban, birding became more attractive, and with Roger Tory Peterson's first field guide in 1934, birding grew in both popularity and accuracy. By the 1960s recreational birders were attaining new levels of expertise, even as the environmental movement made birding's other pole, conservation, a matter of human health and planetary survival. Dunlap concludes by showing how recreation and conservation have reached a new balance in the last 40 years, as scientists have increasingly turned to amateurs, whose expertise had been honed by the new guides, to gather the data they need to support habitat preservation."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Aves: A Survey Of The Literature Of Neotropical Ornithology

Tom Taylor

Louisiana State University Libraries

2011

"This book was originally prepared in conjunction with an exhibition of books from the E.A. McIlhenny Natural History Collection displayed at the Hill Memorial Library in 2011, showcasing Four centuries of illustrated books on the birds of Mexico, the Caribbean, and South and Central America. The book is far more than an exhibition catalogue as it contains biographies of many eminent collectors and ornithologists who worked and traveled in the New World tropics. A commentary on the principal works produced by these individuals accompanies the biographical sketches."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Binocular Vision: The Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides

Spencer Schaffner

Critical Perspectives in the History of Environmental Design

University of Massachusetts Press

2011

"From meadows to marshlands, seashores to suburbs, field guides help us identify many of the things we find outdoors: plants, insects, mammals, birds. In these texts, nature is typically represented, both in words and images, as ordered, clean, and untouched by human technology and development. This preoccupation with species identification, however, has produced an increasingly narrow view of nature, a binocular vision, that separates the study of individual elements from a range of larger, interconnected environmental issues. In this book, Spencer Schaffner reconsiders this approach to nature study by focusing on how birds are presented in field guides. Starting with popular books from the late nineteenth century and moving ultimately to the electronic guides of the current day, Binocular Vision contextualizes birdwatching field guides historically, culturally, and in terms of a wide range of important environmental issues. Schaffner questions the assumptions found in field guides to tease out their ideological workings. He argues that the sanitized world represented in these guides misleads readers by omitting industrial landscapes and so-called nuisance birds, leaving users of the guides disconnected from environmental degradation and its impact on bird populations. By putting field guides into direct conversation with concerns about species conservation, environmental management, the human alteration of the environment, and the problem of toxic pollution, Binocular Vision is a field guide to field guides that takes a novel perspective on how we think about and interact with the world around us."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Books and Naturalists

David Elliston Allen

New Naturalist Series 112

Collins

2010

"Natural history, perhaps more than any other pursuit or study, has always relied heavily on books. Without their basic function of enabling the different kinds of animals and plants to be described and illustrated in adequate detail, the subject could never have come into being and gone on to thrive as it does today. Though met with mixed responses from scientists and naturalists across the centuries, believing the world around them was to be purely 'known' and not read, books on natural history have also come to incite passion and excitement in so many of their readers, and illustrations as much as text have helped to propel this. To have the world around us neatly categorized and named has, to an extent, made it a less daunting place in which to live. In the latest book from the highly acclaimed New Naturalist series, Dr. David Allen explores the world of nature publishing through the course of history, from its very early days in the dawn of publishing, through various significant new discoveries and into the birth of the New Naturalist series itself, highlighting the extraordinary personal stories behind many seminal works."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Birds in Books: Three Hundred Years of South Asian Ornithology: A Bibliography

Aasheesh Pittie

Permanent Black

2010

"The history of South Asian ornithology spans three centuries and records over 1200 species of birds. This is the passionate work of hundreds of amateur and professional ornithologists. The popular as well as scientific documentation of this region's avifauna is prodigious. For the first time, this vast body of work is brought together here, in this detailed, meticulously researched, and annotated bibliography. Over 1700 books are listed, covering the ornithology of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet - a region encompassing the Oriental and Palaearctic realms. The bibliography embraces various types of work: from travelogues, field guides, species monographs, country handbooks, regional avifaunas, multi-volume ornithological works, and folios of art, to simple checklists. In addition, it provides brief glimpses into the lives of over 200 ornithologists. For comprehensive accessibility, it includes three indexes enabling readers to reach specific items of information with ease."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Art of the New Naturalists: A Complete History

Peter Marren & Robert Gillmor

Collins

2009

"The stunning, specially commissioned cover illustrations are one of the great joys of the New Naturalist series, lending it a distinctive style which has inspired nature enthusiasts for many decades. The Collins New Naturalist series is the longest-running and arguably the most influential natural history series in the world with over 100 volumes published in over 60 years. Throughout the years, the highly characteristic dust jacket illustrations have become iconic, lifting the books to a level of collectibility and increasing the level of admiration for an already well-established and respected series. With early cover illustrations prepared by Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, later and more recent covers have been designed by Robert Gillmor. Featuring prints of the awe-inspiring artwork of the New Naturalists, the book will offer a unique insight into Gillmor's approach to each subject matter and the intricate and creative way through which he has brought his own distinctive style and craft of printmaking to the New Naturalist series. Marren explores the findings from the Ellis archive, which has thrown up considerable information on how the old covers were developed, approved, in some cases rejected, and then proofed. The Art of the New Naturalists offers a fascinating insight into how the creation of these eminent cover designs has developed and progressed and will be essential reading for everyone interested in the frantic workings behind the seemingly serene collection of artwork that is one of Britain's iconic book series."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Early Birds: A Selection Of Bird Books From Belon To Audubon

Alvan Bregman

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

University of Illinois

2009

A 16 page booklet produced to accompany an exhibition at the University Of Illinois in January to March 2009.

Introduction:

"This exhibition of bird books provides background to a companion exhibition of plates from The Rare Book & Manuscript Libraryís copy of John J. Audubonís 'Double Elephant' folio, Birds of America. On display here are some of the earliest bird books and many other important ornithologies produced up to and including Audubon. The charm of the subject matter makes these books attractive, but these works were designed primarily to make contributions to natural history. Nomenclature, for example, was one of the most difficult issues facing early modern naturalists. The vernacular names of birds had to be reconciled with those described in classical sources. Exploration, moreover, meant also trying to compare specimens from exotic lands to the illustrations and descriptions at hand. Hopping through this exhibition as a tour guide is our familiar Cardinal, which was presented in varying ways in these books. Here you will also see the various techniques which were used successively over time in the illustrations, including wood-blocks, engravings and lithographs."
book cover

book cover

Medieval Birds in the Sherborne Missal

Janet Backhouse

University of Toronto Press

2001

"The Sherborne Missal, one of the greatest of English medieval manuscripts, contains a wealth of marginal illustrations of wild birds, painted with great skill and accuracy. From over 170 images, over half can be clearly identified to 40 species, and although many are imaginary birds and fantasies, the manuscript offers an unparalleled insight into a fascinating aspect of England's natural history in the middle ages."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Homage To Audubon: The Illustrated Bird Book 1300-1860

Wesley B. Tanner

Special Collections Library

The University of Michigan Library

1993

A 16 page booklet produced to accompany an exhibition at the University Of Michigan in June and July 1993.

From the introduction:

"Audubon's Birds of America has very special significance for the University Michigan Library. It was the first book purchased for the collection. The Regents authorized its acquisition on February 5, 1838, and the Library's copy was obtained the following year from William A. Colman, a New York bookseller. The purchase price was the then considerable sum of $970, quite an act of faith for a new university which had yet to hold its first class or erect its first building! Today, six million volumes later, Birds of America remains the single most valuable printed book in the University Library's collection. With this exhibition, we pay homage to Audubon by displaying alongside Birds of America some of the notable illustrated bird books acquired by the Library in the ensuing 155 years."
book cover

book cover

Fine Bird Books 1700-1900

Sacheverell Sitwell, Handasyde Buchanan and James Fisher.

Foreword: S. Dillon Ripley

Atlantic Monthly Press / H.F. & G. Witherby

1990

"This book is a tribute to the world's greatest natural history monographs and contains colour plates which reveal the full breadth of achievement attained during the 18th and 19th centuries. First published over 35 years ago, this expanded edition includes more colour plates and a new foreword. The book represents the collaborative efforts of leading authorities in the fields of ornithology, art history and rare-book connoisseurship. The colour plates featured in the book include work by John James Audubon, Jacques Barraband, Mark Catesby, Daniel Giraud Elliot, John Gould, Robert Havell, John Keulemans, Edward Lear, Edouard Travies and Joseph Wolf."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Birds, Men and Books: A Literary History of Ornithology

Peter Tate

Henry Southeran

1986

"Moving from medieval church records to the present day the author follows the course of Ornithology and its expression through literature, showing how the role of the ornithologist has changed and how the discipline was influenced by the great Naturalists like Linne, Gilbert White and Charles Darwin."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Birds in Mediaeval Manuscripts

Brunsdon Yapp

The British Library Publishing Division

1981

"Analyzes the artistic treatment of crows, cranes, hawks, eagles, and other species of birds in the illustrations of books ranging from 700 A.D. to the Renaissance."

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


A Century Of Bird Books

Peter Tate

Witherby

1979

2nd edition: 1985

book cover

The Literature of Australian Birds: A History and a Bibliography of Australian Ornithology

Hubert Massey Whittell

Paterson Brokensha

1954

A single volume that comprises two parts:

  • Part 1, A History of Australian Ornithology 1618 to 1850 (116 pages)
  • Part 2, A Bibliography Of Australian Ornithology 1618 To 1950, With Biographies Of Authors, Collectors And Others (788 pages)
A facsimile edition was published in 1993.

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Fine Bird Books 1700-1900

Sacheverell Sitwell, Handasyde Buchanan and James Fisher.

Collins, & Van Nostrand

1953

A limited edition publication with 16 full page colour plates and 24 black and white plates. There are three sections: an essay on bird books by Sitwell, a bibliography bi Fisher and Buchanan, and a list of species in the plates by Fisher. A general edition was published in 1990.

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


British Birds And Their Books

Raymond Irwin

National Book League

1952

A 38 page catalogue of an exhibition.

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


British Bird Books: an Index to British Ornithology A.D. 1481 to A.D. 1948

Raymond Irwin

Grafton & Co

1951

A 398 page work with chapters based on subject areas, regions and bird families.

Buy from amazon.co.uk

book cover


Bird Books And Bird Art: An Outline of the Literary History and Iconography of Descriptive Ornithology

Jean Anker

Levin & Munksgaard

1938

Based primarily on collections of books and plates at the University Library at Copenhagen.

A facsimile edition was published in 1973.

book cover

A Geographic Bibliography of British Ornithology from the Earliest Times to the End of 1918

W.H. Mullens, F.C. Jourdain and H.K. Swann

Witherby & Co

1919-1920

Originally published in 6 parts between 1919 and 1920.

book cover

A Bibliography of British Ornithology from the Earliest Times to the End of 1912

W.H. Mullens and H.K. Swann

Macmillan

1917

book cover

The Ornithologist's Text-Book: Being Reviews Of Ornithological Works

Neville Wood

John W. Palmer

1836

From the preface:

"It has long been a complaint among amateur Naturalists, and those who are commencing the study of Natural History, that no account of the works relating to this delightful subject has yet been published. The present volume is, accordingly, intended to supply the desideratum with regard to what may perhaps be considered the most interesting branch of the science, and it will, we hope, and indeed anticipate, prove a useful guide to the Ornithologist in the choice of his books. That it is not so complete as might be wished, especially as regards the less important works of the continental writers, we freely admit, but we think that no British work of importance is omitted. If we have failed to notice any important works of our continental brethren, we wish it to be clearly understood that such omissions are occasioned by our not having had access to the works, and not by a wilful disregard of their merits."
book cover

book cover



Last updated January 2014