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.
Our Opinion: This fascinating book follows the various strands that make up the study of birds by telling the stories of the scientists that made the discoveries and the hypotheses. 'Yesterday's Birds' covers paleontology from Archaeopteryx, via Sir Richard Owen, Huxley, Cope and Marsh, Heilmann, Wetmore, Ostrom, Brodkorb, Chatterjee, Feduccia, Chiappe, Long and Schouten, and Mayr, among others. The book continues with The Origin and Diversification of Species, Birds on the Tree of Life, Ebb and Flow, Ecological Adaptations for Breeding, Form and Function, The Study of Instinct, Behavior as Adaptation, Selection in Relation to Sex, Population Studies of Birds, and Tomorrow’s Birds. Appendices cover Some Histories of Ornithology, and Five Hundred Ornithologists, plus references, notes, and an index.
Year of Publication: 2014
Page Count: 524
Weight: 4.25 lb