Shire Natural History, No. 13: £2.50
ISBN: 0 85263 854 X
This 24 page, A5 volume, first published in 1987, is a perfect compromise between a magazine article and full-scale academic monograph.
Snow describes the life and behaviour of this popular garden and woodland bird, in plain and accessible language, without patronising the reader or "dumming down". There is sufficient depth to interest a fairly experienced birder, and yet there is nothing here which would could not be absorbed by an interested beginner. One should, perhaps, expect no less from an author whose C.V. includes membership of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Directorship of Research at the BTO and a stint as Senior Scientist at the Natural History Museum, not to mention an MA, DPhil and DSc.
Topics include the bird's territory, feeding, song and calls, courtship, breeding, population movements and longevity. The section on Man's impact on Blackbirds is not as depressing as one would find with other species, though our artificial introduction of the Blackbird to the Southern hemisphere, probably not viewed kindly by affected species there, is not explored as much as one would like.
Interesting titbits of information abound: Did you know, for instance that town-nesting Blackbirds are far more successful than those nesting in woodland, with only 14% successfully fledging young in the latter, against nearly half in the former?
The ten excellent colour (and one black-and-white) photographs show all relevant plumages (though not an example of leucism, which seems to be increasingly common in this species, at least locally); seven diagrams illustrate mating behaviour, territorial- dispute postures, migratory movements and clutch-size and -date statistics.
'The Blackbird' is one of a series of books, published by Shire , covering birds, mammals, reptiles and plants, at species and family level. At less than the price of a packet of cigarettes, or even a monthly birding magazine, it is easy to recommend.
Please remember that opinions expressed are those of the individual reviewer, and not necessarily the West Midland Bird Club.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Tuesday 21 May 2013 02:04:08
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