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Owls of the United States and Canada: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behavior [Hardcover]

by Wayne Lynch
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 7, 2007 0801886872 978-0801886874 1

There is no group of birds more mysterious and fascinating than owls. The loudmouths of the raptor world, they peep, trill, toot, bark, growl, shriek, whistle, chittle, whoop, chuckle, boom, and buzz. Indeed, very few actually "hoot." They have become the stuff of lore and legend—from the Roman myth that an owl foot could reveal secrets to the First Nations belief that an owl feather could give a newborn better night vision. But the truth about owls is much more exciting.

In this gorgeous book, celebrated natural history writer and wildlife photographer Wayne Lynch reveals the secrets of these elusive species with stunning photographs, personal anecdotes, and accessible science. The photos alone are masterpieces. Unlike most published owl photos, which are portraits of birds in captivity, the vast majority of these were taken in the wild—a product of the author-photographer's incredible knowledge and patience.

Lynch complements the photos with a wealth of facts about anatomy, habitat, diet, and family life. For each of the nineteen species that inhabit Canada and the United States, he provides a range map and a brief discussion of its distribution, population size, and status. Lynch debunks myths about owls' "supernatural" powers of sight and hearing, discusses courtship rituals, and offers personal tips for finding owls in the wild.

From the great horned to the tiny elf owl, this amazing volume captures the beauty and mystery of these charismatic birds of prey.

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Editorial Reviews


A complete and passionate labor of love. It is essential reading for those who are fascinated by owls—and those who aren't yet but are now at risk of becoming so.

(Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven)

Lynch is among a select group of North America's very best natural history writers and photographers. In Owls of the United States and Canada he showcases both of these talents and reveals a wealth of knowledge about owl biology. Anyone interested in these fascinating birds will treasure this book for years to come.

(Brian E. Small, Birding Magazine)

Beautiful, readable, and affordable. So if you plan to give it as a give, I suggest you buy a copy for yourself as well.

(Whit Gibbons Tuscaloosa News)

This is a gorgeous book from celebrated natural history writer and wildlife photographer Wayne Lynch.

(Library Journal)

This is, in short, far and away the best owl book this reviewer has seen designed especially for general audiences. The writing is clear, concise, scientifically accurate, and totally readable.


This is a must have book for anyone interested in owls.


This beautifully illustrated book contains a wealth of fascinating information... Will be much appreciated by birders, naturalists, and anyone with an interest in owls.

(C. R. Southeastern Naturalist)

This work is a labor of love. The author has done an admirable job.

(Quarterly Review of Biology)

Thoughtfully organized... it is an outstanding reference for this remarkable family of birds.

(Wildlife Activist)

I have more than a dozen owl books... but probably none is so attractive and accessibly informative as this one.

(Paul A. Johnsgard Great Plains Research)

Overall this book is a pleasure to read whether you're a diehard owl enthusiast or a casual admirerer. You'll find yourself wanting to leave this book somewhere conspicuous, so you can show the images off to friends, family, and unwary passersby.

(Jim Cirigliano Bird Watcher's Digest)

About the Author

Wayne Lynch began work as a full-time science writer and photographer in 1979. Today he is the author of numerous award-winning books and television documentaries and one of Canada's best-known and most widely published photographers. His books include Wild Birds across the Prairies; Mountain Bears; A Is for Arctic; and Penguins of the World. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (November 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801886872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801886874
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Owls of the US and Canada December 23, 2007
A wonderful book. The large format and abundant photography at first suggest a coffee table book, but Lynch's contribution is much more than that. The writing is intellectually luminous, displaying a good mind and careful researching. Though the author is very up to date on current research in the field, the scholarship is unobtrusive - the text is free of footnotes and citations though these can be found at the end of the book.
The photography is in a league of its own. Lynch is a well-known wildlife photographer, and these photos show just why. The artistry and a technical excellence are breathtaking. For instance, the whiskered screech-owl on p. 16 is composed the way a painter would compose, but the photo still brings out the individual feathers, the half-closed eyes, the long beak hidden behind the whiskers. These birds are so closely observed they show more than I can see with my binoculars in a woodland walk. And add to this the field knowledge: owls are not sparrows or seagulls that one can see anywhere. To capture them on film, the photographer must spend hours in a blind, and travel to places far off the interstate. This book is one that will stay in the mind after it has been read.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Guide To Owls December 6, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book combines the personal experiences of the author with detailed information about the owls that live in the United States and Canada. The background information given in this book can be applied to more than one species of owls, and in some cases, it could be applied more generally to birds of prey. There are comparisons between humans and owls to give the reader a better image of what the author is describing. When there is a piece of general information given, the author gives examples of which owls that piece of information might be applied. The book is filled with wonderful photos, and includes a guide of owls that is located between the first two chapters.

This is one of the best books about owls that I have read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on North American book March 3, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have studied owls for years and this one is the finest book I have read on the subject, Not only are the pictures fantastic but the text is very informative. Buy with confidence that you will enjoy this book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Owls of the US and Canada January 8, 2008
This is another wonderful book by a real naturalist and consumate photographer. The images are just stunning photographically and from a naturalist's standpoint. Dr Lynch writes in a conversational tone that makes reading a pleasure, it's more like a conversation with him than anything else.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in either nature photography or birds, but especially if you like both.

Chase Hunter
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Fascinating and Informative July 30, 2008
By B. Beck
The book is great. There are many stunning photos. The book is worth every penny for just the photos alone. But after you get past all the eye candy there is a lot of interesting information about Owls. For example he shatters a lot of myths about their sight and hearing. The book has 8 chapters plus an introduction explaining Owl addiction: Anatomy of an Owl which has an identification guide; son et lumiere where he talks about the sight and hearing of these birds; Haunts and Hideaways; The Owlish Appetite, Family LIfe; The Next Generation; Predators, Pirates and Pests and Owls and Humans.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Owls September 12, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous book that will please both the student of owl biology and behavior as well as individuals who simply wish to see gorgeous photos of intriguing birds of prey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish there were more books like this... November 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm making a concerted effort to educate myself around the biology and behaviors of wild birds to support and improve my "photography habit". I'm still working my way through this book, but there's some excellent information in here, much of which debunks some of the long held "assumptions" about owls. I only wish I could find more books on other birds of prey such as this one. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars owls of the United States and Canada November 5, 2012
This book rocks ! I wasn't expecting anything this comprehensive. I bought this book for the photos, but i can't stop reading all the cool stories from the author. The fact that all the photos were taken in the wild blows my mind. When you see these photos you'll understand. All in all a ridiculously well done book ! The photos are great, the text is great. I can't put it down.
disclaimer, i'm an owl-aholic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book.
I purchased this for my 9 year old nephew, who loves owls. The book is of high quality, with beautiful pictures and detailed information about owls. Read more
Published 7 months ago by karen mayes
4.0 out of 5 stars nice book
haven't had time to read it all so can't rate higher at this time. received as expected and anticipated. no problems.
Published 8 months ago by fletch
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Book
I am obsessed with owls so I was very pleased when I ordered this book. It is a great resource and well written.
Published 9 months ago by Alicia Carpenter
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book
Beautifully made and very informative. wonderful pictures and makes for an amazing gift for any owl fan. Very impressed with this book.
Published 14 months ago by Lovecraft Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Pictures
My teenager loves this book. It has beautiful pictures and interesting facts. It would work well for either adults or kids.
Published 15 months ago by Kathrine Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Owl lover delight!
What gorgeously illustrated book. Perfect for an owl lover! As this is a gift for the holidays, I can't wait to see the expression on the receivers face when they open it.
Published 16 months ago by JLMB
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative
I am learning more than I expected. I purchased this when a screech owl took up residence in my barn.
Published 17 months ago by fufu
5.0 out of 5 stars great
Wonderful! Large format and abundant photography. Writing is good. Photography great. A magnificent apotheosis of what a book like this can be. Really good.
Published 18 months ago by miraclebaby
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, A Must Buy
This book is filled with beautiful photographs and excellent descriptions that fully capture the character and biology of these magnificent birds.
Published 18 months ago by Robert E. Osman
3.0 out of 5 stars More than enough
I found this book to be professionally done with beautiful pictures throughout. The author is obviously passionate about nature and owls in particular, and seems to be very, very... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Bike Lover
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