Sunday, August 8, 2010
Review: Nightjars of the World
Posted by Birding is Fun!
Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbird, and Owlet-nightjars of the World, by Nigel Cleere
When Princeton University Press asked if I'd be interested in reviewing this new book, I had no idea that I would be gifted such a luxurious hardbound masterpiece. It has coffee table book style glossy photos on quality paper and is similar to a text book in size and weight. I spent a few hours one night recently reading all the introductory text and then browsed every single page featuring all 135 of these mystical and elusive birds...even a few that may be extinct or are only known from museum specimens.
I had no idea that these "caprimulgiformes" covered so much of the world as I am only familiar with Lesser and Common Nighthawks. This is certainly the most in-depth and most spectacular coverage of this order of fascinating birds. Each species is given two to four pages, one page for info and range maps, and the others for large photographs. The photos are nothing short of amazing and were pulled from some of the world's best bird photographers from around the globe. As a budding bird photographer, I can appreciate the level of skill and the hours involved in capturing such quality images in such non-photo-friendly conditions.
The author/compiler, Nigel Cleere, points out which species are most likely to cause identification confusion and gives great descriptions for each species to help you sort them out. Mr. Cleere is also not ashamed to point out what we don't know about these enigmatic species, which excites the mind and opens the door to more discovery.
Another important aspect about this book is that it was created in partnership with BirdLife International and sales of this book will support the Preventing Extinctions Programme, which includes eight of the featured birds in this tome.
Reading this book was like taking a semester long ornithology course on the greater goatsucker order of birds. I really enjoyed learning the biology. This will be the world's go-to reference book for all things nightjar.