Princeton University Press, $22.95, 144 pages
With over 10,000 diverse species, birds can be found anywhere in the world. Mike Unwin’s The Atlas of Birds seeks to promote a greater understanding of key components of bird biology. Unwin’s style is reader-friendly and suitable for bird enthusiasts and younger readers. The atlas is filled with fascinating material – an evolutionary timeline, stunning photographs, intricate designs, and detailed diagrams. Each subject covered appears on two pages. One page has text and the facing page has a mixture of the material mentioned above. Being an atlas, the book frequently features full color maps focusing on categories such as habitat and species location, threatened areas, and where adaptations have occurred over time.
Unwin discusses major threats to avian survival, including deforestation, agriculture, pollution, and climate change. Conservation efforts are addressed as well. In a section titled “How Birds Live,” readers learn about survival in the air, land, and water, how nests are constructed, migration patterns, and courtship rituals. Along with the more scientific information, Unwin includes quirky, fun facts and trivia (like how many times Shakespeare mentioned specific bird species in his plays). Unwin has clearly done his research and is an expert in the natural history and biology of birds.