The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation by Mike Unwin. First published 2011. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 144 pages.
The Atlas of Birds is an engaging book that covers a huge amount of information on bird diversity and distribution, avian life cycles, bird conservation, and much more, in a relatively small volume.
The book is divided into eight parts, each filled with short two-page articles on a wide range of bird topics. The subjects are covered generally, with specific examples emphasized by photographs, maps, charts, and illustrations.
The information is interesting and presented in a visually appealing way and in a comfortable tone, and in this way the book is a great introduction to a wide variety of avian topics. However, it is just an introduction and many of the short articles will surely leave most engaged readers wanting more.
For example, just two pages devoted to the entire life cycle of all birds (“From Egg to Adult”) is surely not enough, though the specific examples (paternal care of Emperor Penguins, Mallefowl incubation chambers, etc) are truly interesting and informative.
That said, as someone with a huge and still growing interest in almost all things avian, I really enjoyed going through this book. Many of the bite-size articles prompted me to seek further information. In my case it’s easy to turn to other books already in my library; others could just as easily turn to the Internet for further exploring on most of the topics presented in the book.
The Atlas of Birds is a great introduction to a huge range of topics related to birds, including life cycle, habitat, distribution, and conservation. Young or budding birders will appreciate the short articles and engaging graphics; more experienced bird lovers will enjoy the variety of topics presented in an appealing way. I give The Atlas of Birds 4.5 Goldfinches out of 5.
Disclosure: This is my own original, honest review of The Atlas of Birds, a copy of which was provided to me free of charge by the publisher.