on 18 July 2016
This is no doubt a great and useful book, and I only have myself to blame for not checking more thoroughly what it was about. What I was looking (and hoping) for was a book about a wide selection of the types and species of birds that have gone extinct ever since the dinosaurs, i.e. for the past many tens of millions of years. What we get in this book is only the species that have gone extinct in the past 700 years! I realize it would be a massive project to span wider, but I was just hoping for a nice selection of extinct birds from the whole of the era in which birds have existed. If anyone knows of such a book, by all means point me to it in a comment to this review. Thanks.
Even though I was personally somewhat disappointed, this remains a very good and very useful book for anyone who wants to study extinct birds.
on 20 September 2013
This book is the best reference on recently extinct birds. Each species is described with vital details of appearance, range, date of extinction, and location and completeness of remaining specimens. The book is provided with many lovely black and white line drawings, of selected species. I bought this book with the impression that it contained many color illustrations, and was disappointing to find them absent, but this is carelessness and over-enthusiasm on my part. To illustrate all these deceased birds in full color would be an even more monumental task. Upon reading this book thoroughly, I am not in any way disappointed any longer, this book is an ornithological goldmine.
I assume that this book takes chronological restrictions into account. Which is fine. But I do wonder about other birds that undoubtedly went extinct because of man, even earlier than this book lays out. The Chendytes sea duck of the american ice age, or the Genyornis, etc. Perhaps, a similar restriction should be placed, and the extinct birds of the ice ages should be chronicled, in a separate book. In which case, species killed off more recently would be excluded (because they are in this book), and the issue of the earliest extinctions caused by man. Julian Hume and company, take note, you may have tackled recent extinctions. But the literature, popular and technical, is lacking good references on fossil and ice-aged birds. Too much ink is spilled on bird-dinosaur evolution, and not enough on the evolution and paleontology of modern bird groups. Julian's ilustrations would come into their own, there.
I cannot say enough words in praise of this book, well done! But take note, books on Paleo-ornithology are a rare treat, make more! And less on the bird-dinosaur debate, that is a dead horse that has been thoroughly beaten (that is, birds undoubtedly DID come from dinosaurs, no doubt, yet Feduccia and his deniers are apt to keep the debate going for no reason, at the expense of their reputations.).