The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Handbook of Bird Biology is massive in size and information. Thus, we’ve decided to break down the review of it into two equal parts. This is part 1 of 2.
With eleven fully-loaded chapters of bird biology, birding information, conservation, and more, the Handbook of Bird Biology is indeed a full blown text book. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers a home study course that accompanies the book (for an extra cost), but as a standalone, there are many reasons to add this to your library.
The first five chapters include:
- Chapter 1 – Introduction: The World of Birds
- Chapter 2 – A Guide to Bird Watching
- Chapter 3 – Form and Function: The External Bird
- Chapter 4 – What’s Inside: Anatomy and Physiology
- Chapter 5 – Birds on the Move: Flight and Migration
Plus a supplement chapter
- E – Evolution on Birds and Avian Flight
No matter your skill level of birding, the Handbook takes us through the basic parts of birds in a scientific yet readable method. The information is broken up nicely with amazing photos and beautifully crafted illustrations.
Fun facts are sprinkled throughout, providing a fun learning experience. The chapters are fairly stand-alone, so certain sections can be skimmed over if they are not as interesting (some of the internal biological functions are a bit overwhelming!).
Already we discovered the cool fact that American Woodcocks can see predators approaching due to the placement of their eyes. Also of interest, the oldest living wild bird was the Laysan Albatross at 42 years, 5 months.
The chapter on flight and migration is particularly valuable for learning about how birds fly, how and why they migrate, and more. Besides the technical details of this enviable skill, as birders this chapter enhances our understanding of the variations of wings and flight in identifying birds.
All the text is written by respective experts in their fields, providing a truly invaluable resource and a must for every birder’s bookshelf.
Stay tuned for part two of this review which discusses five more chapters of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Handbook of Bird Biology.