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Extreme Birds | Stocking stuffer book for birders

November 17, 2021

[By Ellen Vahan, posted by Chuck Almdale]

If you are looking for light reading, this book might not be for you (bad joke, this book weighs in at 4.2 pounds), but if you want weird and wonderful facts and gorgeous pictures, enjoy this!

Fischer’s Turaco (Tauraco fischeri) of East Africa

The sub-title is “The World’s Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds” and each set of pages features a great picture, a name, location, an attribute and a few paragraphs describing the attribute. Such as…

  • Widest wingspan: Wandering Albatross – Southern Oceans and it uses “dynamic soaring”
  • Biggest Belly: Hoatzin – Northern South America and attribute is “vastly expanded foregut”
  • Classiest colors: Fischer’s Turaco – coastal East Africa, astoundingly rare pigments in its plumage
  • Best Karaoke: Purple Sandpiper – tundra of Eurasia and North America, pretending to be a rodent
  • Best flock coordination: European Starling – much of the Northern Hemisphere. Aerial maneuvers of enormous flocks
  • Longest penis: Lake Duck – Southern South America, largest penis for the size of the bird and you have to read about this!
  • Bravest chick: Common Murre – circumpolar northern waters, jumping off a cliff!
  • Best drummer: Palm Cockatoo – northern Australia and New Guinea, using a stick as a musical instrument
  • …and many more.

This is a fascinating book – just right for those staying at home and dreaming about what they could see.

Extreme Birds. The World’s Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds
Dominic Couzens | A Firefly Book | New York. 1984 | 284 pages | 150 birds

A smug-looking male Lake Duck (Oxyura vitata) of Argentina,
close relative of our Ruddy Duck (Wikipedia)

From the publisher’s blurb:

Extreme Birds is a photographic showcase of 150 birds at the extremes of nature. It reveals nature’s ingenuity and sometimes its sense of humor. The species in this book were chosen for their extraordinary characteristics and for behaviors far beyond the typical. They are the biggest, the fastest, the meanest, the smartest. They build the most intricate nests, they have the most peculiar mating rituals, they dive the deepest and they fly the highest. These are the overachievers of the avian world.

Amazon: Hard $52.92, Paper $23.48
Target: Paper $23.49
Barnes & Noble: Paper $24.95
Abe Books: Used copies from $21.74

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