Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin, Tim Burkhead, Jo Wimpenny, and Bob Montgomery, Princeton University Press, hardcover, 524 pages, illustrated with photos and artwork, with notes, references, and index, $45.
Here in summary is everything we know about birds told through the achievements of the people who made the discoveries and did the science. You will recognize some of the names, but probably not all of them. You will be impressed, however, with the work of all of them. The book begins with yesterday’s birds, and ends with tomorrow’s. Discussed are the origin and distribution of species, ecological adaptations, form and function, instinct, behavior, sexual selection, and population studies. Twenty-four other histories of ornithology are briefly described in an appendix, offering opportunity to fill in the few blanks that one might find in this very accomplished examination of bird science. A second appendix offers very brief biographies of 500 ornithologists. You know birds. With this book you will know the people and work that made that knowledge possible. Chances are, you had no idea.