Review – National Geographic Bird Coloration

National Geographic Bird Coloration by Geoffrey E. Hill is the birder’s companion to the much more technical two-volume set: Bird Coloration. Birders benefit greatly from understanding the how and why a bird is colored but this information can be daunting to learn. It is our ongoing quest to attain as much knowledge about birds as possible and National Geographic Bird Coloration is a perfect resource for doing just that.

Bird Coloration would make an excellent text book but doesn’t read like one. Definitions of key terms are called out on page for quick reference, the photographs and drawings are matched beautifully to the text, and the information is geared towards birders. Numerous large information blocks called “Birder’s Note” are sprinkled throughout to assist birders of any skill level.

An example “Birder’s Note”

Hiding in the Open Sky: Countershading can make high-soaring hawk and other birds surprisingly hard to see under some light conditions. Patient birders who regularly scan the open sky with their binoculars are rewarded with soaring birds that would otherwise be missed.

The main topics covered in fourteen chapters include:

  • Patterns of Variation
  • The Visual World of Birds
  • Measuring Color
  • Pigmentary Coloration
  • Structural Coloration
  • The Genetics of Coloration
  • Environmental Influences
  • Warming Up & Wearing Down
  • Revealing or Concealing
  • Statements of Identity
  • Choosing Mates
  • Color & Confrontation
  • Signaling Strategy
  • The Evolution of Color

Each of these chapters can stand alone providing a wonderful reference book to answer specific questions. Discover how some birds are colored in camouflage while others are so bold and obvious. Find out why bluebirds are blue, how color is described and the differences between human and bird vision, among many other fascinating topics.

There is still a great deal of discovery yet to be made when it comes to birds and color, but Bird Coloration provides a great resource for one of the most important topics regarding ornithology and bird identification.

National Geographic Bird Coloration
National Geographic Books
March 16, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4262-0571-2

Disclosure: we were given a copy of this wonderful book by the publisher to review. However, we were not persuaded to say or do anything other than give an honest review, which we have.

2 thoughts on “Review – National Geographic Bird Coloration

  1. This is an absolutely beautiful book! I think it’s a piece of art besides being a great reference book.

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