REVIEW: Owls by Marianne Taylor
Owls is a beautiful photographic encyclopedia of all 225 recognised species of owl found across the world from the Arctic tundra of northern Greenland to the rainforests of Indonesia. Each species is accompanied by a description of its appearance and habitat as well as a size chart, distribution map and wonderful colour photographs.
People have long thought owls to be very intriguing birds. As most are nocturnal and very secretive by nature, few people can say they have actually seen one in the wild. I myself have to admit to only seeing two wild owls in my 24 years, a tawny owl which flew over my head while walking home one night when I was a child, and a spotted eagle-owl while on a field trip to South Africa, which had chosen to spend the day in a not so secluded bush. In this book, Marianne Taylor brings all 225 recognised species out into broad daylight to show them in all of their glory.
The first 20 pages of the book are devoted to giving some general information about the order of owls (Strigiformes) as a whole. This section is packed full of intriguing details about their taxonomy and evolutionary history, as well as their territorial and courtship behaviours. The most interesting part of this section for me describes the incredible adaptions owls have to hunting and goes into detail about traits such as their amazing night vision and their near silent wingbeats which make them a truly deadly predator.
The rest of the book is made up of the owl directory in a species per page format. Each owl is grouped together with other members of their Genus, aside from a few species described at the very end of the book where little is known about them and few photographs exist. Information on the distribution, habitat, size and conservation status of each species is presented in a clear, reader friendly way.
I would definitely say the highlight of this book for me was the photography. From just a quick flick through you really get an idea of the diversity seen in this one order of birds, from the tiny elf owl to the magnificent great grey owl. I also loved the actual sized drawings of some of the wingspans presented at the very end of the book, giving the reader a true idea of the impressive range of sizes present in this group of birds.
Personally, I would have liked a little more in-depth information about each species and I see this as being very much a starters guide to every owl species. However, there is a very useful further reading section at the end of the book that does list websites and useful resources for people who want to gain a bit more information.
In all, I believe that this book is a great resource for people who want to expand their knowledge on the general diversity of owls. The book is fairly large in size and so is not intended as a field guide but more the perfect book to fill the shelves of any wildlife enthusiast. The book has indeed inspired me to want to look further into the biology of these fascinating animals.
Marianne Taylor is a freelance writer, illustrator, photographer and editor. Her interests in natural history began as soon as she could point at animals, and she has continued to be a committed fan of wildlife and wildlife-watching over the years. Despite recent flirtations with dragonflies, hares and orchids, birds remain her primary passion. In 2001 she took a job as editorial assistant at the bird book publishers Christopher Helm, and she continued to work in book and magazine publishing for several more years before taking the plunge as a freelance writer in 2007. Since then she has written more than 20 books for adults and children on a range of natural history subjects. Her previous books include Beautiful Owls (Ivy Press), and Owls (Bloomsbury).
This book was sent to The Wildlife Channel for review by Ivy Press.