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North American Owls : Biology and Natural History, 2nd Edition Hardcover – September 17, 2002
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“I would have to consider this one ‘a must.’”—Birding
“The most thorough survey of the latest scholarly research on owls in North America.”—New York Review of Books
“Of the numerous books on North American owls, this is certainly the best and most comprehensive.”—The Wilson Bulletin
“Johnsgard's book will make fine reading for anyone interested in owls. . . . Of exceptional value are the detailed range maps that allow instant comprehension of species distribution.”—Audobon Naturalist News
“A useful, well-produced book which will be of great use to any owl enthusiast. . . . This will surely remain a standard work for many years to come.”—Natural History Book Reviews
“One of the foremost reference books about owls. It includes range maps with each species account, as well as a comprehensive overview of the comparative biology of North American owls.”—Wildbird
About the Author
Paul A. Johnsgard is Foundation Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is the author of The Pheasants of the World: Biology and Natural History, Second Edition (Smithsonian, 1999) and Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons of North America: Biology and Natural History (Smithsonian, 2001).
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(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.
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".