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Extreme Birds: The World's Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds
Extreme Birds: The World's Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds Extreme Birds: The World's Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds Extreme Birds: The World's Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds

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Publisher: Firefly Books

Author Statement: Dominic Couzens
Audience: Trade
Specs: 150 color photographs, index
Pages: 288
Trim Size: 7 1/2" X 8 1/4" X 1"
Language code 1: eng
Publication Date: 20110825
Copyright Year: 2011
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Extreme Birds: The World's Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds

"A wonderful collection of bird superlatives. ... Fascinating facts and beautiful photographs make this one a winner." -- Booklist

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.

Some examples:

  • Most skilled nest builder: The tiny southern masked weaver reveals a surprising grasp of the principles of architecture. In just five days it weaves and knots thousands of fine grass strands to build a complex sphere-like nest that hangs from the tip of an overhead branch.
  • Deadliest enemy: The southern cassowary is big (140 pounds), tall (6 feet) and fast (30 mph). This flightless bird can also leap 5 feet into the air and has 5-inch long claws that are capable of stabbing and disemboweling a human being.
  • Most creative decorator: The blue bower bird creates an elaborate "bachelor pad" bower and decorates it with colorful baubles. Blue is preferred, and the shinier the better.

Enlivened with entertaining facts and anecdotes, Extreme Birds is an engaging celebration of nature's tremendous imagination. It will appeal to all readers, especially birders and naturalists.

Bio:

Dominic Couzens has written many books on birds and birding, leads specialized bird tours and is a regular contributor to Birdwatch and BBC Wildlife magazines.

Excerpt:

Excerpt

Most Patient Feeder

NAME shoebill Balaeniceps rex
LOCATION central Africa
ABILITY standing motionless for half an hour or more

You're not going to use a bill like this for anything ordinary. The aptly named shoebill of central Africa is a true specialist, feeding almost entirely on lungfish -- big, sluggish fish of well-clogged, sheltered waterways. They are not easy to catch, being large and awkward to deal with, and it takes refinements of fishing technique, as well as of the bill, for the shoebill to be successful.

One of those refinements is the shoebill's extraordinary patience. In some ways its fishing mirrors the technique of herons, waiting by the waterside and eventually striking when prey comes near. But the shoebill takes the waiting much further, sometimes staying completely still for more than half an hour; a heron, and any other stealth hunter for that matter, would have given up long before that. Observers watching shoebills feeding often miss the strike, having passed into a kind of torpor themselves.

The strike, when it comes, is a real all-or-nothing affair; it is often described as a "collapse." The shoebill lurches head first at the fish, and the rest of its anatomy follows. With a bill 7 1/2 inches (19 cm) long it scoops up a huge mouthful, frequently containing some of the lungfish's habitat as well -- water, plants and all -- and it may take some time before the hunter regains its balance. A lungfish constitutes an ample meal, and after feeding the shoebill can go for several days without food. In the life of this bird, it seems, a lack of impetuous hurry is the rule.

TOC:

Table of Contents

Introduction

Extreme Form
Extreme Ability
Extreme Behavior
Extreme Families

Index

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