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The Inner Bird: Anatomy and Evolution Paperback – 15 Dec 2007

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Product Description


"This volume stands out from the plethora of books on birds by concentrating on structural makeup and how structural modifications make one group of birds different from others... It is an altogether welcome offering by an eminently qualified writer... Summing up: Highly recommended. - H.N. Cunningham Jr., Choice"

About the Author

Gary W. Kaiser has worked as a biologist for Environment Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and as an independent researcher. He is a co-author of the 4-volume Birds of British Columbia.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
New thoughts on birds 5 Aug. 2007
By Robert Horn - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Kaiser's book is called 'The Inner Bird' because he concentrates on the skeleton and internal features of this large and varied group of animals rather than the superficial plumage and behaviour which have been the subject of a great number of books in the past. It is an exceptional and possibly unique presentation of the highly specialized field of modern ornithology and the origin and development of the bird written in language readily accessible to the reader by an acknowledged expert. Kaiser describes the basic structure of birds, the most recent discoveries of feathered dinosaurs, early evolution and the way birds have adapted in their anatomy to different environments. The book is full of interesting insights and asides. Few people are aware for example that the bird was fully evolved long before the extinction of the dinosaurs or why penguins are so successful underwater (their anatomy allows them to generate pressure on the upstroke)or that the little swift may achieve speeds of more than 160 Km/hour. This book is not cheap but very good value for anyone who is interested in these extraordinary animals.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Not flawless, but a badly needed addition to most birding bookshelves 30 April 2008
By Duncan Maxwell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Inner Bird is not a typical bird book, and therein lies a great deal of its value. It is the first recent popular science treatment of the anatomy of birds, and how that anatomy ties into the features more commonly written about aspects of avian biology; evolution, behaviour and taxonomy. Even experts of bird ecology or taxonomy will find something of value here, it brings back the almost Victorian emphasis on anatomy, on the skeleton, on how the shape drives the function (and visa versa). The treatment of evolution takes the recent revolution in our understanding of birds as dinosaurs from a skeletal point of view, and the recent breakthroughs in avian systematics and cladistics as derived from DNA and molecular analysis are explained for the layman and contrasted with previous attempts to assemble a tree of life for the class Aves.

The scholarship isn't always flawless, there are a few statements that will leave you scratching your head ("[bee-eaters] are one of only a few small non-passerine birds that undertake lengthy migrations"?). The price is also rather hefty, and the index could have been more helpful, but these are minor distractions in what is otherwise an excellent book that fills a gap in the market.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Evolution and Bird Design--for experts or enthusiasts 3 Feb. 2012
By Cotinga Caller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I can think of no other book that brings the evolution of avian insides (physiology and anatomy) to life like this one. Gill's or Petingill's textbooks (or even the newer Cornell textbook) are pretty dull in comparison. Although I work on birds for a living, I learned an awful lot about how avian physiology was shaped by the requirement of flight. At times, Kaiser digresses a little too much and probably speculates beyond where the science can take him. Also, the overemphasis on seabirds and murrelets at times distracts from the broader picture. Nonetheless, the book brought together the fossil record and modern anatomy/physiology in a way that made a lot of sense out of all the rapidly changing world of bird evolution (at a large scale). With all the fossils coming out of China and the rapidly changing higher order phylogeney (due to genomics and the Tree of Life) it is nice to see how the different pieces fit together. Excellent read.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Book review 29 July 2011
By Raj - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The text is good. But I was expecting more detailed diagrams of bird anatomy and evolution in a book about bird anatomy and evolution. I was looking for more of what's shown on the cover. Instead, it's a steaming pile of text mostly. Well, as the saying goes, "don't judge a book by its cover."
How will can we visualize without diagrams? There's too few in this book. I will have to use another source for that now.
Highly Recommended for Serious Birders 30 Dec. 2013
By Andrew J. Cubbon - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a serious birder (bird watcher), I highly recommend this book. It explains the skeletal characteristics of birds and how they effect their flight behaviors. It is well written and easy for the knowledgable layman to understand.
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