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Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build


By Peter Goodfellow | 160 pages | 300 color illustrations | Princeton University Press | Hardcover | 2011 | 9780691148496

Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. ‘Avian Architecture’ describes how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, deconstructing all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use. This spectacularly illustrated book features 300 full-color images and more than 35 case studies that profile key species worldwide. Each chapter covers a different type of nest, from tunnel nests and mound nests to floating nests, hanging nests, woven nests, and even multiple-nest avian cities. Other kinds of avian construction - such as bowers and harvest wells - are also featured.

‘Avian Architecture’ includes intricate step-by-step sequences; visual spreads on nest-building materials and methods, and insightful commentary by a leading expert. It illustrates how birds around the world design, engineer, and build their nests. It features architectural blueprints, step-by-step sequences, visual spreads on nest-building materials and methods, and expert commentary. It includes 300 full-color images. It covers more than 100 bird species worldwide.

I was pretty impressed with the whole concept of this book and have greatly enjoyed looking through it. So much so that I am not going to carp about some minor inaccuracies, given the scope of the project that would be churlish. [For example, he has the European Bee-eater as far North as Spain when, in fact it goes further north into France and in eastern Europe; moreover, it is not confined to River Banks, on a recent visit to southwest France I came across three colonies, one on the bank of a tiny pond, another by a lake and yet another on the edge of a small town in the face of a sand bank that was being quarried. In Spain I’ve seen them in a middle of a filed where the land has slipped to reveal a six foot high bank.]

There are times when pulling together one facet of the animal world across many species is a cynical attempt to produce a pot-boiler, this is certainly not that but a really fascinating panorama of one of the wonders of avian life – excellent!

Fatbirder Review

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