Organized by habitat–garden, forest, ocean, pond, mountains and zoo–this birding book presents over 50 species common to Europe. Stylized representations with thick lines and bright colors of common owls, gulls and finches are depicted along with more exotic flamingoes, puffins and peacocks. Each image is accompanied by a fact-filled paragraph that gives tips for identification, such as social behaviors, special skills, and preferences for food, sleep, and flight.
Every entry includes colors of plumage and markings, length, beak style, song, diet and nest. The entries are numbered, with the number appearing on a static silhouette. The numbers correspond to tracks on the accompanying CD, which contains the bird songs of nearly every bird detailed in the book. The CD also contains original and lovely inspired compositions by Daniel Goyone that create a duet between bird and piano.
The book is not flawless–a map to show range of each species, or any kind of geographic indication, would make this more useful for report or amateur bird watching. As it’s a European book , many North American species aren’t included: the oriole, cardinal, screech owl, sandpiper, pelican, egret or turkey, just to name a few, and there is no introduction to define the scope of the book. The index is simply an alphabetical list of species.
The graphics are wonderful, however. While it’s true that photos would have made identification impossible to miss, the illustrations are truly fantastic. Miyamoto shows birds in flight, birds close up, and birds together in their habitat. Somehow the artist imbues the characteristics of the breeds into the expressive drawings, so that a warbler looks cheery, and a raptor, predatory.
Perhaps better suited to European purchasers, the book does hold value to American audiences for the artwork, clever facts and companion CD, all for a bargain price of less that the cost of the average picture book.
This review was originally published on the Hip Librarian’s Book Blog May 27, 2006.