Five books on birds and science

Cundinamarca Antpitta
American birder Peter Kaestner discovered the Cundinamarca Antpitta, in Colombia in 1989. It was named Grallaria kaestneri in his honor. Photo by Ross Gallardy

2018 was a great year for new bird and nature books! We rounded up five books published last year, covering species discoveries, trees, conservation, and other topics.

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Birds New to Science
Birds New to Science: 50 Years of Avian Discoveries

Birds New To Science: 50 Years of Avian Discoveries, By David Brewer, Christopher Helm/Bloomsbury, 2018, hardcover, 416 pages

In the September/October 2018 issue of BirdWatching, our cover story about the world’s top listers mentioned that in 1989, American birder Peter Kaestner discovered a new antpitta species in Colombia. That bird, pictured above, is one of 288 species featured in this book, which highlights all bird species described to science since 1960.

The birds, of course, are fascinating. Brazil’s gorgeous Araripe Manakin is here, as are five hawk-owl species from Southeast Asia, the well-named Bare-faced Bulbul of Laos, two giant albatrosses (Antipodean and Amsterdam), the stunning Okinawa Rail, and the Pardusco, an endemic songbird of Peru that is placed in its own genus. The text for each species includes notes on its appearance, habitat, voice, range, breeding, and other details, but often the best part is the story of the bird’s discovery. Kudos to author David Brewer for including these stories, which shed light on the painstaking work of ornithologists.

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and BirdWatchingDaily.com. He joined the staff of BirdWatching (formerly Birder’s World) in 2000 and has worn many hats over the years: reporter, story wrangler, photo editor, managing editor, and now editor. Originally from Omaha, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Milwaukee and holds a Bachelor’s in journalism from Marquette University. You can reach Matt at (617) 706-9098 and [email protected].

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