Review: Atlas of Bird Migration: Tracing the Great Journeys of the World’s Birds

Migration is one of the most fascinating subjects pertaining to birds, yet it still holds much mystery and secrets. Conservationists benefit from the study of migration, using past knowledge to predict where birds should be, and making observations on the changes of this natural occurrance.

The Atlas of Bird Migration: Tracing the Great Journeys of the World’s Birds is an invaluable resource for ornithologists, birders, and conservationists. Patterns of migration are discussed, such as long distance, east-west, attitudinal migration, and more. Entire sections are dedicated to the preparations of travel, flight stills, and techniques for studying bird migration, increasing conservation, and the human created threats migrants face.

Many interesting facts are unearthed such as birds that migrant by swimming (such as Razorbills who are effectively flightless as they molt), and the specific routes of birds like Blackpoll Warblers that may not be the most direct but are nonetheless successful.

Much of the Atlas provides detailed accounts of families of migrant birds. Specific species are used to illustrate–with colorful drawings, maps, and photographs–the various paths of migration. These treatments do not include every species in a family, but provide an excellent overview of the range and styles of migration they participate in. Each of the family accounts have information boxes with more cool bird facts.

“Migration is probably the most awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. What it lacks compared with the enormous power of the weather, an earthquake, or a volcano, it makes up for in romance–a small bird pits its wits against the elements and accomplishes, as routine, a journey that is truly superhuman.” -from the Atlas

The Atlas covers the entire globe and is broken into regional sections of migration:

  • North American
  • Eurasian
  • Far North – those that nest in the arctic
  • South American
  • African
  • Australasian
  • Oceans – seabird migration
  • “Almost Migrations” – raptors including owls, see- and berry-eaters, & birds of the steppes that “irrupt” occasionally but do not actually migrate

A catalog of migrants finishes out the book, providing an account of the more than 500 species of birds covered throughout the book. It includes a quick reference to the timing and locations of these species and also the distance covered by each bird.

Rating: 10 of 10 feathers

Atlas of Bird Migration: Tracing the Great Journeys of the World’s Birds
General Editor: Jonathan Elphick
176 pages
Hardcover with jacket – $35.00
ISBN: 1-55407-248-4 / 978-1-5407-248-4
Published: April 2007 by Firefly Books

3 thoughts on “Review: Atlas of Bird Migration: Tracing the Great Journeys of the World’s Birds

  1. This looks really interesting! I’ll have to check it out. Speaking of which, if you’ve never seen “Winged Migration” (the movie,) I highly recommend it!

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