Today there is a huge interest in birdwatching as a hobby, and over the years amateur birdwatchers have contributed enormously to our understanding of the birds around us. At the same time, ornithology has developed as a science – in the field, in the laboratory, and in the universities – and birds have played their part in pushing forward the frontiers of biological knowledge.
Peter Bircham looks at the history of British ornithology, spanning a millennium and exploring along the way the first bird book, the earliest British lists, various notable scientists, collectors and artists, the first studies of migration, and the challenges presented by classification. He traces the development of the British Ornithologists’ Union and other organisations, and finishes with a review of the current state of ornithology in Britain.
‘A History of Ornithology’ is an authoritative and engrossing account, packed full of fascinating stories – not only about the birds but also about the many colourful characters who have studied them through the ages. This beautifully illustrated book will hold great appeal both for the student of ornithology and for the enthusiastic amateur naturalist.
‘Bircham has found for himself a distinctive ecological niche by dwelling on the evolving science, rather than ornithology as social process or field activity … he has produced a thorough and valuable contribution to the field’
Mark Cocker, The Guardian
‘A very good reference book and a fascinating read.’
‘This book has set a benchmark for future histories on this subject, though I’m guessing that there won’t be many books that come along in the near future that offer a serious alternative to this extremely well-balanced and studious work.’
A ‘well-researched and fascinating book … Bircham has done a fine job.’
BBC Wildlife Magazine