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The Book of Eggs: A Life-Size Guide to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World's Bird Speciesby Mark E Hauber
Synopses & Reviews
From the brilliantly green and glossy eggs of the Elegant Crested Tinamou—said to be among the most beautiful in the world—to the small brown eggs of the house sparrow that makes its nest in a lamppost and the uniformly brown or white chickens eggs found by the dozen in any corner grocery, birds eggs have inspired countless biologists, ecologists, and ornithologists, as well as artists, from John James Audubon to the contemporary photographer Rosamond Purcell. For scientists, these vibrant vessels are the source of an array of interesting topics, from the factors responsible for egg coloration to the curious practice of brood parasitism,” in which the eggs of cuckoos mimic those of other bird species in order to be cunningly concealed among the clutches of unsuspecting foster parents.
The Book of Eggs introduces readers to eggs from six hundred species—some endangered or extinct—from around the world and housed mostly at Chicagos Field Museum of Natural History. Organized by habitat and taxonomy, the entries include newly commissioned photographs that reproduce each egg in full color and at actual size, as well as distribution maps and drawings and descriptions of the birds and their nests where the eggs are kept warm. Birds eggs are some of the most colorful and variable natural products in the wild, and each entry is also accompanied by a brief description that includes evolutionary explanations for the wide variety of colors and patterns, from camouflage designed to protect against predation, to thermoregulatory adaptations, to adjustments for the circumstances of a particular habitat or season. Throughout the book are fascinating facts to pique the curiosity of binocular-toting birdwatchers and budding amateurs alike. Female mallards, for instance, invest more energy to produce larger eggs when faced with the genetic windfall of an attractive mate. Some seabirds, like the cliff-dwelling guillemot, have adapted to produce long, pointed eggs, whose uneven weight distribution prevents them from rolling off rocky ledges into the sea.
A visually stunning and scientifically engaging guide to six hundred of the most intriguing eggs, from the pea-sized progeny of the smallest of hummingbirds to the eggs of the largest living bird, the ostrich, which can weigh up to five pounds, The Book of Eggs offers readers a rare, up-close look at these remarkable forms of animal life.
“We must be careful what we say. No bird resumes its egg.” —Emily Dickinson
And what a shame, as while birds are stunning in their plumage, the variety and beauty of the vessels from which they hatch are beguiling. The egg has been called nature’s perfect container. And the variation on a theme is spectacular—from the bold purple red hue of a Tinamou egg to the roughly surfaced greenish-blue Emu egg. Incubation varies as much as color—from days to months—as does the clutch size. All of these different egg types reflect ecological and evolutionary dynamics.
The Book of Eggs introduces readers to the eggs of 600 bird species. Bird eggs have inspired artists like Rosamond Purcell, and countless birders have considered them quarry. For scientists, these brilliant vessels lead to an array of interesting topics, from the patterns of egg coloration to how birds and their parasites recognize eggs. Particularly appealing is this book’s use of The Field Museum’s bird egg and nest collection.
After an introductory section, the work is organized taxonomically. Each entry, which focuses largely on North American birds, includes life-size photos, distribution maps, and drawings of the birds from which the eggs emerge. The text discusses bird behavior and the egg traits, inclusive of some evolutionary explanations for the variance of form. This is the first time the Field’s egg collection has been photographed, and it is world renowned for its content. The book will also include portrayals and descriptions of the clutches, which can be a helpful tool in identifying species for birders.
About the Author
Mark E. Hauber is professor in the Animal Behavior and Conservation Program at Hunter College, City University of New York.
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