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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book bar none with couple of minor weak points....minor!!, December 4, 2014
By 
lordhoot "lordhoot" (Anchorage, Alaska USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: North American Owls : Biology and Natural History, 2nd Edition (Hardcover)
I found North American Owls by Dr. Paul Johnsgard to be one of the best reference books I ever read on owls. The book is full of information on just about every owl that lives in the North America. Although I owned several good reference books on owls, this one proves to be top of the line. Every owl type of North America (and Mexico) are carefully researched, the book is well written and best of all, its pretty easy to read. The book come well illustrated with drawings and photos, both are quite excellent.

And I gave it five stars but I do have a complaint or two. I didn't take any points but I thought there was two oversights in the that I thought, needed to be address. One is a major and other is more trivial.

For the major, I am not sure but I think Dr. Johnsgard totally skipped out the intelligence quality of the owl species. Are they smart, are they dumb? Can they problem solved like crows or what? Are dogs smarter? Are the myth of owls as wise birds simply a work of fiction. Some books say they are dumber then rock, others are more kind while few stated they got learning abilities far greater then previously thought. I would like Dr. Johnsgard's thoughts on this and there wasn't any. For all the information the book gives us on owls, this one element is not discussed at all. I am confused by that. Quality of the other stuff is quite high so I didn't think much but it would be something that belong in a book like this.

For the trivial, in the chapter where the author discussed the legends and myths of owls, he takes stuff both from the old world and the new. That is cool but I wonder how he could have missed the Battle of Waikiki, an ancient Hawaiian myth where owls fought men and won. Although pueo owl is not a North American owl, the author freely used European legends and myths, why not something totally fantastic legend like Battle of Waikiki. (See the owl monument at Kewalo Basin in Honolulu or pick up a good book on Hawaiian legends and myths for further information.)

Those two were probably the only weaknesses I saw in this otherwise excellent reference book on the owls. Any owl lover who buy this book, will not regret it but I just wish the author would have put those two stuff in to make the book..."more complete".
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SPLENDID !!, January 16, 2013
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This review is from: North American Owls : Biology and Natural History, 2nd Edition (Hardcover)
"North American Owls" (2nd edition) by Paul A. Johnsgard
(Smithsonian Institute Press 2002)

This excellent and very thorough book is likely to appeal most to people seeking a science-oriented presentation. It is certainly useful for "non-scientific" folks like myself but, for me at least, reading it is somewhat akin to walking barefoot in deep, loose sand. Part of the smoke coming from my brakes is attributable to the fact that the author speaks in centimeters, grams, liters, square kilometers and hectares but my mental search engine is calibrated in inches, ounces, feet, acres and square miles. However...
The extra effort was rewarded with quite a bit of new (to me) information and the answers to several questions I've pondered over for more than a little while. Johnsgard's writing style - though clearly science-tempered, is also quite congenial and that does help get through some of the more mundane parts.
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North American Owls : Biology and Natural History, 2nd Edition
North American Owls : Biology and Natural History, 2nd Edition by Paul A. Johnsgard (Hardcover - September 17, 2002)
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