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The World's Rarest Birds Hardcover – April 14, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691155968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691155968
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Approximately 5 percent of the earth’s 10,000-plus bird species have landed in this handsome volume because they are rare and endangered. Many are critically endangered, and there is so little data about 21 of the species that whether they are endangered, critically endangered, or extinct is not known. All species are represented by photographs or paintings in a beautiful photographic style. The essays provide information on the Rare Bird Project, bird diversity, important bird areas, and the many threats to bird life. There are also regional directories to threatened bird locations. The essays and other information are liberally illustrated with engaging color photographs. The text also provides a good overview of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and its process for identifying and labeling the conservation level of all species. QR codes are included for each species, linking readers directly to the BirdLife International website for more information. Most people will never see an Australian night parrot, a Floreana mockingbird, or a Jamaican pauraque. This book is an inexpensive way for birders and general readers to travel the world to see the rare and endangered. Perhaps it can motivate more people to manage habitats for all species. --Linda Scarth


Fourth Place for the 2013 BB/BTO Best Bird Book of the Year, British Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology

One of Library Journal's Best Sci-Tech Books for 2013

"It is a sobering thought that, without heroic conservation efforts, many of these birds may soon exist only on the pages of books like this."--Natural History

"Dense, richly informative. . . . Offers a showcase of struggling birds globally--but each shot through a lens that celebrates their diversity, vibrance, elegance, and enthusiastic displays."--Audubon Magazine

"A must have for those with an interest in bird conservation."--Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker Report

"A coffee table treasure or a rainy day home birding experience. I highly recommend The World's Rarest Birds as a valuable addition to the libraries of conservationists and birders alike."--Brad Sylvester,, Birdwatching

"The book is educational, promotes conservation, looks nice, but at the same time is a reference source for those rare birds. . . . The World's Rarest Birds is like that stuff you put in your gas tank to add oomph to your engine, but with birdbooks. A regional library of references will suddenly have high octane information on some of the least known species."--Greg Laden, Science Blogs

"The content makes for disturbing reading, packed as it is with evidence and insight into how man is slowly but surely eliminating many of Planet Earth's 10,000 bird species. . . . As the publishers quite rightly say with their accompanying literature, 'this is a book that we all wish wasn't necessary' (my emphasis). This is a sentiment that will resonate to most reading this blog but the book needs to find a wider audience rather than simply reach the already converted. The World's Rarest Birds deserves that wider audience and I sincerely hope it reaches them; otherwise we may need to produce another and more desperate volume in a short number of years. Let's hope not. This is a great book, and I have a suggestion. Buy two and send one copy to your elected representative at the highest level possible."--Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog

"Absolutely fascinating from start to finish. . . . A must have for all bird lovers!"--Rob Ripma, Nutty Birder

"This fine book is simultaneously fascinating and saddening."--Herb Wilson, Portland Press Herald

"Gorgeous. . . . The details and facts listed are astounding."--Dave Lewis, Birds from Behind blog

"Outstanding. . . . A great read and a[n] exceptional contribution to the global Ornithological community."--Dan Murray, Birding New Jersey

"Bring[s] to life what might otherwise be an abstract idea devoid of the impetus of emotion--the glory and wonder of nature, and the truly, dazzlingly, urgent need to protect what's left of it."--Cathy Taibbi, Wildlife Conservation Examiner

"If you're a world birder or an armchair birder this is a fascinating if sobering book."--Harry Fuller, Towhee Blog

"Beautiful. . . . The book is intended to educate and mobilize birders, naturalists and the general public to take action to save threatened birds and to raise awareness for the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme."--Penny Miller, A Charm of Finches

"Filled with beautiful pictures and drawings, and a wealth of information on endangered bird species, this book is an absolute must-have for anyone interested in bird conservation, and a delight for people everywhere who love birds and enjoy learning about them."--Bill Saur, Passionate Birder

"I loved this book; I would include it as one of the top books of the year."--Wildlife Extra

"An extraordinary bird book. . . . If you support conservation, and wish to protect the Earth's rarest birds, you need to read The World's Rarest Birds."--Gabriel Thoumi,

"A monumental effort to elevate the visibility of bird conservation efforts worldwide."--Beth Buczynski,

"As well as being well-researched, authoritative and up to date, this is also an impressive product. It is large-format, heavy and substantial with a 'quality feel' and is liberally illustrated throughout. Unfortunately, it is not a particularly joyful read for it is disturbing to find not only Velvet Scoter but also such species as Egyptian Vulture within its pages. Reading this book is therefore something of a bitter-sweet experience. It is a beautiful production and the birds are alluring indeed but their possibly brief tenure on this planet provides ample cause for despair."--Andy Stoddart, Rare Bird Alert

"Extraordinary images and design, along with authoritative text, make The World's Rarest Birds the best book on rare birds of the world that I've seen. I'm very glad to have it, but at the same time saddened that it has to exist at all. But since there are birds in trouble we need a book like this to tell their stories. It belongs on the table--not the shelf--of anyone who cares about birds."--Grant McCreary, Birder's Library

"This lovely, coffee-table sized book is a wonder. . . . The take away lesson in this book is obvious: The species described in the book are in peril; conservation actions for each are necessary, and time is of the essence."--Birding Community e-Bulletin

"[A] splendid book. . . . Those who read the book will be like the blind men and the elephant. Photographers will see a photography book. Birdwatchers will see a field guide to rare birds. Conservationists will see extinction. And dilettantes will see a coffee-table book. All will be in some measure correct."--Matt Young, Panda's Thumb

"[A] remarkable book. . . . The 'coffee table' format belies the extraordinary amount of research and the sheer volume of information presented. The authors have produced a reference book of outstanding quality. But this is no ordinary reference book to be occasionally picked off the shelf, dusted down and browsed rather it is a treasure chest of stories of discovery, loss and re-discovery. I found each visit to these beautifully presented pages unearthed more gems and yet more extraordinary insights into our most threatened birdlife."--Keith Clarkson, Birding Frontiers

"[A] handsome volume. . . . Most people will never see an Australian night parrot, a Floreana mockingbird, or a Jamaican pauraque. This book is an inexpensive way for birders and general readers to travel the world to see the rare and endangered. Perhaps it can motivate more people to manage habitats for all species."--Linda Scarth, Booklist

"This guide, filled with photos and descriptions of conservation efforts, illustrates the perils faced by rare and endangered avian species."--Science News

"It can only be hoped that this beautiful book succeeds, however modestly, in its aim of increasing awareness of these threatened species--and of birds like the great knot that may well become endangered in the near future given the unsustainable path that we seem to be following."--David Diskin, South China Morning Post

"An essential and timely study of conservationism and natural history."--Guy de Federicis,

"Gorgeous photography, cool maps, graphs and tables, all will entice you to learn more about these birds and to care."--Robert Mortensen, Birding is Fun

"A beautifully illustrated book vividly depicting the most endangered birds on our once beautiful planet, elaborating on the threats confronting these species, and the measures needed to protect them from dying out."--Wan Lixin, Shanghai Daily

"A vivid portrait of animals under threat."--Maggie Fazeli Fard, Washington Post

"This gorgeous oversized hardcover is a roll-call of the world's endangered birds, listed by region. . . . [A]nyone who loves birds will learn a lot from this sobering reference that documents the variety of endangered birds and the tragic thoroughness and destructive reach of man'kind.'"--Devorah Bennu, GrrlScientist, The Guardian

"This is a coffee-table volume scrapes the glossy veneer from rarity, places a marker firmly in the ground in a measured manner and unflinchingly highlights the endangered and vulnerable along with the challenges that face us to make them less so. If it succeeds in raising awareness for even some of the species it highlights it will be a major achievement. Buy a copy and give it to your MP or MEP with a personal message to do more; it's the least we can do."--Alan Tilmouth, Birdguides

"If you do any sort of world birding, or even just dream about it, this is nothing short of scripture."--Eric Salzman, ABA Blog

"It is sad to think that many of the birds depicted in this book may become extinct within our lifetime as a result of human impact and this book deserves a place on many a coffee table as a stark reminder of our influence on this planet."--BTO Online

"An authoritative volume that's also a delight to hold, even if it's frequently disturbing to read."--Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times

"This is an excellent book; packed with information, well-designed, full of excellent photographs and with lots of well-written and interesting text. The photographs are marvellous. And the illustrations of those birds for which no decent photographs exist, by Tomasz Cofta, are excellent too. . . . It is a book that is a joy to have--but a shame that it needs to exist."--Mark Avery blog

"Far from being just a list of rare birds and pretty pictures then, [The World's Rarest Birds] is a well-written, superbly-illustrated reference book that should be valid for years to come."--Charlie Moores, Talking Naturally

"Everyone who has an interest in our wonderful amazing weird and surprising birds should have a copy of The World's Rarest Birds. Its 350 pages are packed with stunning images and loaded with facts to inspire us all to do more to protect our wild birds and the wild places they live. . . . We highly recommend this book to all."--Biggest Twitch

"This book is packed with information and, for its price, it provides an impressive amount of material. In total, 650 species are featured and the volume harnessed the work of 321 photographers from around the world. It represents a truly impressive feat and I challenge any travelling birder not to be obsessed with it! How sad, though, that such a work of beauty details a story that can only be described as the tragic failure of mankind."--Birding World

"This has clearly been a labor of love for the team who produced the book. The result is a testament to the efforts and design skills of the authors, the generosity of the photographers who donated their images, and the expertise of the many other contributors. Stunning images emphasize the beauty and irreplaceability of these species, while the range maps--many merely a small dot on a regional map--are a stark reminder of how close we are to losing so much. The book is very modestly priced and is likely to become a convenient and standard source of information for birders, students, conservationists and professional ornithologists."--Paul Dolman, Ibis

"This substantial volume, with the motto 'Let the birds speak for themselves', gives visual and textual confirmation to the threats faced by a substantial fraction of the birds of the world. Hirschfeld, Swash, and Still provide images and conservation information for 650 avian species worldwide, focusing the reader's attention on the varieties of problems avifauna face. . . . This valuable work deserves a place in every library ornithology collection."--Choice

"The World's Rarest Birds, though hefty, is so valuable: It offers short informative profiles of 591 of the most at-risk species, the birds classified as Endangered, Critically Endangered, or Extinct in the Wild. Instead of numbers on a chart, it allows us to see Cuba's Zapata Wren, Kenya's Taita Thrush, South America's Yellow Cardinal, and other species as birds worth caring about. A photo or a painting depicts each one--an astonishing accomplishment."--Joel Greenberg, Bird Watching

"Essential for birders, both armchair and actual, and readers in ecology and conservation. The scope, depth and organization are exemplary."--Sally Bickley, Library Journal

"A landmark volume of unparalleled coverage. . . . An exemplary volume of long-term value, teaching us never to take for granted the presence of birds in our lives."--Library Journal Best Sci-Tech Books of 2013

"This fascinating table-sized book contains a wealth of data on the world's rarest birds. It is loaded with nice photos, tables and maps."--FHB, Wildlife Activist

"This landmark book features stunning photographs of 500 of these species--the results of a prestigious international photographic competition organized specifically for this book. . . . [O]ne-of-a-kind."--World Book Industry

"This book is one of the most important bird publications ever."--Bill Harvey, BirdingASIA

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
It is a well bound and documented book with excellent photographs and information.
Keith R. Sauerwald
The World's Rarest Birds is a thorough and well done presentation on the current state of the world's rapidly dwindling species of birds.
Allen Scott
The book covers in detail the information on these birds and how they are classified and what it means to be included in this book.
Mike "Madbirder" Nelson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keith Betton on June 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In 2008 and 2009 the Rare Birds Yearbooks were published and sold in over 40 countries. They put the spotlight on nearly 190 of most threatened birds of the world - the Critically Endangered species as defined by BirdLife International. These softback books presented updates on the latest information available, and have helped to focus the minds of travelling birders about gathering data.

The most recent assessment of the threat status of every bird species was undertaken in May 2012, and publication of this new large format book has been timed to reflect the new categories. There are now 197 Critically Endangered species - the rarest of the rare, and these are the ones that are likely to become extinct in our lifetime unless urgent action is taken to conserve them. But the opportunity has been taken to include a further 389 species that are in the Endangered category, plus 60 others that are labelled "Data Deficient" - where nobody really knows much about them because they are so rarely seen.

Once again the book summarises each species' current status and the reasons for being threatened, while providing information about their distribution and ecology. Most importantly for those considering whether to buy it or not, the book is absolutely packed with high quality photographs. An international photo competition was organised to obtain as much new material as possible and the result is that 515 of the threatened species are shown, plus 21 of the Data Deficient species. A further 76 species for which there are no recent photographs are shown in paintings by the Polish artist Tomasz Cofta.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mike "Madbirder" Nelson on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning and thought provoking book taking a look at some of the world's rarest and most threatened birds. Beautifully illustrated with fantastic photographs, some never published before, and artwork this book brings to light the fate of many endangered and threatened birds with information about their status. Birdlife International worked in conjunction with the authors to provide the most up to date information on these quickly vanishing species highlighting the need for their preservation and that of their habitat as well.

The book covers in detail the information on these birds and how they are classified and what it means to be included in this book. The IUCN red list data explains how they are listed and what it means for the population of that species.

Extinction is covered and illustrates those species that are extinct in the wild or possibly extinct with many last sightings in the last fifty years. It also covers those species in collections that haven't been seen since they were collected offering hope they might still be out there but there isn't enough information on them.

The book also covers the conditions that have caused these extinctions and species declines and how they will continue to effect the populations of these birds.

Each of the continents are covered with those species that are threatened on each of them with information about the population, threats and a paragraph describing the habitat and its loss as well as information about habits and behavior.
There is also information on threatened hotspots and how the loss will affect the ever decreasing populations of birds in those regions.

It's sad that a book like this is required but this volume is essential to any birding library to illustrate the fate of these disappearing birds and what can be done to help them no be only a memory.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ferro on May 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a well presented reference work and coffee-table book, full of lovely photographs and a wealth of up-to-date information, a meditation on beautiful but desperately threatened species that most people -and even many birdwatchers -may be unaware of.

It is divided into geographical sections, which are given informative introductions as to current threats and trends, actions needed and relevant conservation bodies. It also features concise individual species accounts accompanied by photos or illustrations of each bird.

Taken together it gives the bigger picture of a world in crisis, with humanity destroying ever greater tracts of habitat and pushing our wealth of natural heritage toward extinction.It is shocking to realise how dire the situation has become and how much poorer our world is for each species that is lost. This book raises awareness, provides hope that we can make a difference, and encourages action by each and every one of us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paulo Beraldi on June 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Impressive pictures. I live in a country where some of the species depicted are still living and most people have not even heard about. Very good summary information.
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Format: Hardcover
An important resource for bird lovers and conservationists, the book highlights the 197 birds species categorised as critically endangered, 389 as endangered, 60 species regarded as data deficient and four that exist only in captivity. Beautifully illustrated with prize winning photographs from around the world, the book goes through every continent on the planet with maps covering hotspots in every region and discussing the challenges facing the environment and the bird life in those areas. Birdlife partners in each continent are also listed by country. Conservation groups have been using these books to understand the extent of the threats to bird populations and lobby changes where possible. The larger format has enabled the inclusion of many superb photographs. What is not clear is the amount of work that is being undertaken by conservationists re these species and their level of success, which species may still be waiting for inclusion in conservation programs, what kind of support may be needed especially in countries where BirdLife may not yet have partners and ways in which the lay reader can help the conservation movement and perhaps help save some of these species from extinction. It would be a sad indictment of mankind if books such as this were the only place we could find these wonderful creatures.
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