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Savage, Candace.

Saskatoon, Western Producer Prairie Books, c1985. 211pp, cloth, $35.00, ISBN 0-88833-136-3. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Elinor Kelly

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

The author of this large, attractive book of popular ornithology is an Albertan now working in Yellowknife. A previous book written with her late husband, a biologist, is Wild Mammals of Western Canada (Western Producer, 1981). Not a bird guide, not a checklist, this is a book about birds for the lay reader, written in a bright, readable style and incorporating a great deal of esoteric material from the scientific journals. After an introduction to the basics, come chapters on each of the eighteen orders, with a representative example, or examples, of each treated fully. Fifty species are described out of the possible five hundred and fifty, with preference being given to very familiar and widely distributed birds such as the robin and the bluejay. Their biology, range, behaviour, breeding, and nesting habits are detailed for the reader. The results of hours of study by observers are summarized, and the reader learns about the tongue of the hummingbird, the virtuosity of the song sparrow, or the strange nesting habits of the storm-petrel.

The illustrations, by a wide variety of well-known nature photographers, show the adult birds and their nestlings. There is a distribution map for each species showing the breeding, not the wintering range. These come mostly from the new 1986 edition of Godfrey's Birds of Canada, which has not yet been published. One must look carefully at the maps for the whooping crane and the gannet to see anything at all. There is a lengthy bibliography, a metric conversion table, an index, and a brief foreword by Roger Tory Peterson. This handsome book will appeal both to the ordinary reader and the expert for its readable informative text and the visual appeal of the hundred or more coloured photographs. It is highly recommended for libraries and as a gift.

Elinor Kelly, Port Hope, Ont.
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