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Owls of North America Hardcover – September 12, 2008
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Einstein unravels relativity. Schrödinger ponders life. Oppenheimer reflects on nuclear war. These three luminaries here join an impressive constellation of other modern scientists who have brightened the last century through both their research and their writing. Biologist-author Dawkins brings to his anthology-building task a perfect fusion of scientific intelligence and literary discernment, carefully selecting and annotating pieces remarkable both for theoretical acumen and stylistic grace. The range of specialties represented runs very wide—astrophysics and microbiology, anthropology and computer design—but discernible commonalities emerge in four thematic sections devoted to what scientists study, who they are, what they think, and even what they admire. A few selections will appeal chiefly to scholars (such as John Maynard Smith’s examination of how nervous systems evolved in flying creatures); however, the majority of the pieces address topics of deep interest to general readers—in language wonderfully free of jargon. Most of the writers, indeed, seem to have read and taken to heart the insights excerpted from molecular biologist James Watson’s lively autobiography: Avoid Boring People (2007). --Bryce Christensen
Wildlife author Frances Backhouse's well-researched and informative book helps us get closer to these haunting and often misunderstood birds. (William Hageman Chicago Tribune-City 2008-09-28)
If you enjoy owls or learning about wildlife in North America, you will enjoy Owls of North America by Frances Backhouse. [The book] looks at such subjects as "Owls and Humans," how owls are adapted for nightlife, their feeding habits, communication and mating. The chapter "Life's Journey" describes an owl's life from eggs and incubation to nestlings to when they leave the nest and become independent, as well as many reasons for their death. The chapter on "Species Profiles" looks at the 23 species of owls found in North America. The profiles are reasonable in depth providing information on such subjects as: appearance, voice, roosting sites, distribution, habitat, feeding, breeding, migration, and conservation. Distribution maps are also included. Seventy beautiful colour photographs complement Backhouse's information and informative text. (Glenn Perrett Metroland North.com)
Wildlife author Constance Backhouse's well-researched and informative book helps us get closer to these haunting and often misunderstood birds. (William Hageman, Chicago Tribune Dayton Daily News 2008-10-27)
Readers with an interest in owls will simply not find a better book than respected science and environmental writer Frances Backhouse's Owls of North America. The book is large and handsome, suitable for coffee table adornment, but don't let it spend too much time there.... Owls of North America will be a fabulous gift for the naturalist or curious child on your list. (January magazine 2008-11-23)
An in-depth yet lively study of these fascinating birds. Topics include anatomy and adaptations, mating behaviours, egg laying and chick rearing, feeding habits, communication displays and location. Exceptionally well done. (Lois Cooper Muskoka Today (Gravenhurst ON) 2008-11-13)
There can't be too many books about owls. That's because we know these birds -- which are rarely seen and are vocal for only brief intervals each year -- mostly through the work of scientists and writers.... With her clean and clear text, she illuminates these fascinating birds brightly. Her book invites a deeper appreciation of these mysterious neighbors of ours. (Jim Williams Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN 2008-11-18)
[starred review] A remarkable amount of information is presented, but in a way that anyone can understand.... Owls are fascinating creatures. If you'd like to have a light shone into their nocturnal world and learn more about them and their live, then this book is for you. (The Birder's Library.com 2009-03-30)
Large, beautifully produced [and] has fantastic photography... enjoyable and comprehensive.... Recommended to anyone wishing to learn more about [this] fascinating family. (Grant McCreary Wingbars.com)
The primary audience for this superbly written book about owls includes birdwatchers, naturalists, and general readers. Frances Backhouse clearly has a unique talent for environmental writing. Her smooth style belies the tremendous synthesis of the substantial and complex scientific material she has reviewed in preparing for this book. Biologists and owl researchers will find it a useful reference in explaining to family members and other non-biologists some of the excitement and passion they feel about owls. This is exactly the kind of book one would (or should) find in all Nature or Environmental Education Centres.... The topics offered reflect the key aspects of owl ecology, and flow nicely from start to finish.... The fundamental strength of the book is the way it incorporates much more information on the ecological aspects of the owls, and presents this in more depth, and in a much clearer, coherent way than its predecessors. The choice of chapter topics, components in the
species profiles, and overall flow of the book are clearly well thought out. Likewise, the 70-plus photographs were chosen and placed with care, so that they not only convey a nice image of an owl, but also emphasize the associated message in the text. (David H. Johnson Journal of the British Ornithologists' Union)
The accounts of the various birds are thorough, covering the bird's appearance, voice, timing of activities, roosting sites, breeding, migration, and conservation status. Excellent photographs accompany the text. (John D. Newman, NIH, Poolesville, MD Science Books and Films 2009-06-01)
Owls of North America is a stunning, photo-loaded book featuring the mysterious and fantastic family of birds known as owls. While this oversized volume of glossy pages might be mistaken for a "coffee table book," it is undoubtedly much more than that... The text, while not simple, is definitely readable for younger audiences (pre-teen and up). It was hard to keep our 10-year-old from running off with the book. (birdfreak.com 2008-11-19)
The seventy color photographs are stunning, and have been contributed by some of the best wildlife photographers out there, making this a must-have book for your library, if you are a lover of all things outdoors... A most impressive package that you cannot help but enjoy. (Joan Sutter Shelf Life)
Backhouse takes an intimate look at the 22 species of typical owls and one species of barn owl found in North America...Heavily illustrated with beautiful, clear photographs. (Nancy Bent Booklist)
A thoroughly charming and informative look at these enigmatic creatures of the night. (Jodi DeLong The Chronicle Herald 2008-12-07)
Seventy beautiful colour photographs complement Backhouse's informative and interesting text. (N. Glenn Perrett Lake Wah-Wash-Kesh Conservation Association)
Packed with information, going from generalities to species profiles, complete with stunning photographs. (Bill Robertson The Star Phoenix 2008-12-13)
These are lavishly illustrated, beautifully designed volumes in which Backhouse not only provides information about different species but also shows how they fit into their ecosystems and how they relate to humans. (reviewed with Woodpeckers of North America) (Dan Davidson The Whitehorse Star 2008-12-05)
Frances Backhouse provides an in-depth yet lively study of these fascinating birds. Topics include anatomy and adaptations, mating behaviors, egg laying and chick rearing, feeding habits, communication displays and location...With detailed profiles of and range maps for all 23 species, along with 70 color photographs illustrating key behavioral characteristics, Owls of North America is a solid reference for birders, naturalists and general readers. (Ian Paulsen Birdbooker Report 215, The Guardian 2012-04-01)
An in-depth yet lively study of these fascinating birds... Exceptionally well done. (Lois Cooper Muskoka Today 2008-11-13)
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Top Customer Reviews
But don't take me wrong, this is far more that just a book of pretty pictures of owls. The author has done extensive research and does know her owl stuff. The book includes a brief history of owls in North America, and owls in general and a discussion of the various families. The author discusses the habits and habitat of each separate species along with anatomy and psychology, feeding habits, nesting, breeding habits, visual displays, life cycles, migration and communication. There are also excellent distribution maps shown with each species. (A warning here: Distribution maps are fine and dandy, but must all be use with caution. Birds in general do not read maps and you find different species in places that they have no business being in. Due to various factors, including climate warming, the distribution for birds is rapidly changing at this time and the "owl watcher" needs to be aware of this).
The author gives a good species profile of each of the 23 species found in North America, and as mentioned above, gives us some wonderful photographs of each of these wonderful birds. This book is not intended to be a field guide by any means, but tromping though the woods, desert and plains is just part of the fun. Reading about and learning is another part.
This is an excellent book to have lying around. Even those not particularly interest in birding with find joy in flipping though this one. I have also found that children are fascinated with these creatures. The text is not overly technical and is easy reading.
I tend to read a lot about owls and diurnal birds of prey, and when I spotted this book in the store, I kept thinking, do I really need yet another book on owls? Despite that, I could not pass the book up, and I'm glad I did not. And speaking from the point of view of someone who has read extensively on owls/birds of prey, I think this book would be great for anyone, from the person who is new to the subject of owls or for someone who is more of an expert.