Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
  • List Price: $29.95
  • Save: $10.66 (36%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Trade in your item
Get a $3.01
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build Hardcover – June 5, 2011

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$16.20 $10.70
"Please retry"

Frequently Bought Together

Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build + Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them + America's Other Audubon
Price for all three: $64.99

Buy the selected items together


Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at Audible.com. If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at ACX.com.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (June 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780691148496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691148496
  • ASIN: 069114849X
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2011 PROSE Award in Popular Science & Popular Mathematics, Association of American Publishers

"I live in a nice clapboard house and work in a gleaming steel-and-glass skyscraper, but after reading Avian Architecture I feel cheated. I'll never get to enjoy the comforts of the nest of a long-tailed tit."--Henry Fountain, New York Times

"Goodfellow explores nest types and their design and construction. The text is excellent and the book is richly illustrated with drawings, photographs, and a selection of architectural blueprints for many nests."--Wayne Mones, Audubon Blog

"[Goodfellow] sharpens the focus to explore nests only from the perspective of their architecture--their form, function, construction materials, how they are made, and by whom. . . . We love finding nests but rarely pay attention to how they are built. Avian Architecture will magnify your sense of wonder. The book is chockablock full of detail presented in a very accessible way."--Wayne Mones, Audubon.org

"[Avian Architecture] is a compelling read. I couldn't put it down. Goodfellow organizes nests into general types: scrapes, holes, platforms, cups, woven nests and so on. He describes each nest type in great detail and illustrates the process with detailed artwork and photos."--Scott Shalaway, West Virginia Gazette

"This has got to be one of the coolest bird books I've ever come across. . . . Avian Architecture may unravel some of the mystery behind how birds make their nests, but Peter Goodfellow thoroughly reveals a complexity in nest building that makes birds all the more astounding. . . . Trust me, you're [going to] want this!"--Robert Mortenson, Birding Is Fun

"In a word, this book is 'magnificent'. Its 160 pages are loaded with the kind of photos and artwork that we've come to expect from Princeton University Press--exceptional. . . . This book delivers 100% of what the title promises--the design, engineering, and building of birds' nests."--eBirdseed.com

"Avian Architecture is a beautiful book with lots of pictures and illustrations of the many styles of nests birds build. In addition, there are interesting insights into birds around the world."--A Charm of Finches

"A well-illustrated introduction into the nest building behavior of birds."--Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker Report

"The illustrations are a rich combination of fine photographs and necessary graphics that can show structural cutaways and design elements no photo can reproduce. From the simple but elegantly hidden scrape nests to the large, unwieldy platform nests of some of our largest birds, this book gives you the how and where of the avian builder's method."--Harry Fuller, A Towheeblog

"A must have book if you have ever wondered how birds are able to build such incredible nests. Peter Goodfellow has created a fascinating read combining "blueprint" drawings, with explanations, of each nest type as well as detailed drawings of the techniques and materials used by some specific species of birds."--Birder's Report

"The drawings and text allow the author to give the reader a firm understanding of how various nests are made. The coverage goes from simple nests to more complex, sometimes communal nests. . . . The book covers so much more: mound incubators that use the heat of composting material, platform nesters, colonial nesters and others. The text is easy to understand and can be shared with children. This book provides a great entry to the wonder of birds."--Herb Wilson, Portland Press Herald

"Goodfellow provides blueprints for each nest type, a list of building materials, and case studies. All are illustrated with photographs and superb artwork, and explained in clear, concise text. Bird nests can be as fascinating as the bird itself. Avian Architecture makes that point clear. . . . I read Avian Architecture cover to cover without putting it down."--Jim Williams, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Birds weave and wind, dig and daub, scrape and sculpt some of the most amazing homes in the animal kingdom. Avian Architecture reveals the genius hard-wired into birds' brains. They are, without regard to the variety of their collective techniques, all master builders. . . . It isn't often that we think of a bird book as a real page turner, but Goodfellow's Avian Architecture is just that."--Brad Sylvester, Examiner.com

"Packed with loads of information and knowledge on bird nests and the process of nest building."--Tim Schreckengost, Words about Birds

"Scarcely a page was turned in Avian Architecture that I did not learn something new and incredible. . . . I've been waiting a long while for a book like Avian Architecture. I was not disappointed. It is nothing short of a revelation to discover not only the variety of structures that birds build, but also (especially) how they are constructed."--Grant McCreary, Birder's Library

"A really fascinating panorama of one of the wonders of avian life--excellent!"--Bo Beolens, FatBirder

"Beautifully illustrated. . . . Avian Architecture is a great book to learn more insight into the world of birds and how they nest."--birdfreak.com

"I always admired and was amazed by the nests, and I had a cursory understanding of their structure, but it took reading Avian Architecture to really bring the engineering to life and deepen my appreciation of the building process. It's a great book to add to your birding library. I love it. Blue prints, photographs and lovely watercolors help you assimilate a lot of information quickly. It won't take long to help you understand another facet of bird life."--Red and the Peanut blog

"A browsable, amply illustrated overview of avian construction from mere scrapes in the sand to edible structures people prize for soup."--Science News

"This is not a field guide for systematically identifying birds' nests. It's a sit-down-and-be-enchanted-by-the-skills-of-our-feathered-friends kind of book. The British Goodfellow is a longtime birder and former teacher who knows how to convey his deep expertise accessibly to his readers. . . . The book will charm any interested reader and will win birds more devotion with every viewing. Highly recommended."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Exceptional illustrations and photographs help author Peter Goodfellow describe scrapes in the dirt, tunnels, domes, mounds, cups, and other types of nests birds build. The book's jaw-dropping scenes include a hornbill sealed in a nest hole, a colony of densely packed albatrosses, and the many colorful walkways made by bowerbirds."--Matt Mendenhall, BirdWatching Magazine

"Numerous attractive, inviting diagrams, sidebars, paintings, and sketches supplement the photographs. The minimal text is tied to this rich, illustrative material making the book primarily one for browsing . . ."--Choice

"Fascinating, beautifully illustrated."--Gregory McNamee, Britannica.com

"Peter Goodfellow's recent book, Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer & Build, captures a lifetime of not just observing birds but the unsung structures they create. Bird nests can be simple or elaborate, as small as a hazelnut . . . or enormous, weighing several tons. They can last a few weeks or a century, and can be isolated or one among a half million of similar nests. Divided into 12 chapters based on types of nests and other avian construction, the book revives Goodfellow's 'schoolboy excitement of "bird nesting"' with case studies from around the world accompanied by intricate line drawings and blueprints, as well as hundreds of photos."--Meera Subramanian, Discover magazine

"Avian Architecture offers more than mere knowledge. Through the factual exploration of avian nest building, this book not only informs but also imparts a sense of wonder."--Bloomsbury Review

"Avian Architecture is a hardcover book, hefty in the hands, glorious throughout, and will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of Maine's great outdoors, especially if you are a birder. Even if you are not, a walk around the back yard will be enhanced by what you learn in this book."--George Smith, Down East Magazine

"[T]his is a book that would be appreciated by a large audience of bird aficionados, in a format that is accessible and really enjoyable. The author's interest is contagious and will leave readers inspired to discover and admire bird nests in the wild."--Sabrina S. Taylor, Journal of Field Ornithology

"[F]ew avian titles have left me spellbound and excited to read cover to cover through the night as Avian Architecture. Everything about this book, layout, color photographs, handsome blueprint illustrations, a fascinating subject that deserves this overdue exposure, and succinct text, proves that this book deserves the recent publication awards. . . . Avian Architecture deserves to be placed in the bookcase next to the best of all avian titles. Ornithologists, naturalists, teachers at all levels of education, yes, even the curious public will be thrilled with the contents of this primary reference."--Gene Wilhelm, Pennsylvania Birds

"I think that this is a worthy addition to any ornithologist's bookshelf. The enthusiastic amateur will find a lot of readily accessible information about a range of species building a variety of nests. The professional will probably appreciate the volume at face value because of the nice illustrations and straightforward text."--D. C. Deeming, Quarterly Review of Biology

About the Author

Peter Goodfellow is a retired English teacher and lifelong birdwatcher. His books include "Birds as Builders" and "A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Britain and Northern Europe".

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Related Media

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Birdie on July 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a fantastic addition to any bird enthusiast's library! It is chock-ful of great information and intriguing insight in to how bird nests are built. After looking through this book, I don't know how any person could say birds were not intelligent creatures.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kate McDonald on November 6, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The 5 stars is for the fascinating and beautifully presented content which other reviewers have noted. The Kindle version of course contains the many detailed and lovely graphics with text but both the text and the details of the graphics are not legible. I am reading the book on an iPad. I checked the physical book out of the library and I see why there is a problem: the illegible graphics are 2-page spreads in an approximately 8 1/2" by 11" book. You cannot see this problem if you download the Kindle sample because the sample ends before one of these complex graphics occurs in the book.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marge on July 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. It is a wonderful survey of all the different types of nests that birds build. The diagrams showing how the bird constructs its nest were very helpful in understanding the nests.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Mero on July 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This introduction to nest construction is a real delight, one that should be in every school library.
Neither overly scientific nor simplistic it strikes a fine balance. For bird-lovers it could be extended ad infinitum, but it gives a good introduction to a very interesting field.
Though not charmingly cheap it is definitely worth the price.
It covers most kinds of nests on the different continents, how the birds make their nests, and gives a bit of insight into why they make them as they do.
Text, pictures and drawings are all top class.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By passthetorch on July 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a gift for a bird lover. I was told I didn't hit a home run, I won the world series! The book is beautiful, informative and insightful into how smart and creative birds are.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Natural Capital on August 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This spring I had a great time watching robins hop around my yard, picking out old plant stalks and other bits and pieces to build their nests. There was a pair working on a nest in the rose trellis over our front sidewalk -- always an exciting location, because we can watch the parents feed their babies from our porch. Plus, every time someone passes through our front gate a bird comes flying out!

Most nests are a little harder to see. They're usually in out-of-the-way places, and sometimes fiercely protected -- as I once learned when some mockingbirds built a nest in my hedge (I was seriously concerned for a minute there that my eyes would get pecked out). And actually, it's bad when humans get too close to bird nests anyway -- some species will abandon a nest if they are too bothered by the intrusion.

Peter Goodfellow gives us a better look in his book Avian Architecture, which won the 2011 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (The PROSE Awards) in Popular Science & Popular Mathematics.

Just take a moment to marvel at the diversity of bird nests. They range in complexity from the barely-there scrapes in the ground of the arctic tern to the elaborately woven nest of the oropendula; they range in size from the super-tiny cup nest of the ruby-throated hummingbird to the six-foot-deep and six-foot-wide nest of the African white stork.

In addition to grasses and twigs, birds use rocks, mud, cacti, lichen, dandelion seeds, caterpillar silk, animal hairs, and spiderwebs to build their nests. Most surprising, perhaps, is the edible-nest swiftlet, which makes its nest entirely out of spit.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan Kramer on August 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book has been well thought out for both the amateur birder and the more
serious bird watcher. The layout of the chapters with the pictures make it
clear & easy reading - I even bought the book for my friends who are architects!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Covington on October 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Pictures and illustrations low resolution and much of their text is illegible. Greatly handicaps the text. Cannot recommend buying eText version.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?