Author Dominic Couzens, New Holland, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84773-535-5, HB
BirdLife International endorses the Atlas of Rare Birds, by Bird Watching favourite Dominic Couzens.
This volume looks at the subject more from the point of view of the birdwatcher, telling the story of 50 of the rarest bird species in the chatty, engaging but information-packed style we’ve come to expect from Couzens. There’s less discussion of just why the species are facing extinction than in the previous book, but then the author is aiming to let the birds’ stories speak for themselves.
They’re split into categories which include those few that have come back from the brink, as well as those causing controversy, such as the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
That particular bird is illustrated with a truly remarkable photograph from the 1930s, while elsewhere there’s a wealth of colour photographs to help bring a wide variety of species to life.
Full marks, too, for the colour maps provided for each species. They’re simple, but clear and informative enough to put each bird in the global context they need.
It all adds up to an enjoyable package that nevertheless does an excellent job of educating and informing. For that reason, while it has plenty to offer the adult reader too, it’s a perfect introduction to the subject of extinctions for the younger birder or naturalist.
It’s good to be able to endorse two books which approach such an important subject in such an intelligent but accessible way – they complement each other beautifully, and deserve to do well.
MATT MERRITT, DECEMBER 2010