Books on Owls | January 2013

Library Journal Reviews starred review Taylor, Marianne. Owls. Cornell Univ. 2012. 224p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780801451812. $35. Nat Hist

Mikkola’s (Owls of Europe) superb reference title covers perennially popular owls. Excellent color photographs capture the charm and allure of these elusive, mysterious birds. Much more than a photographic guide, the book features authoritative and extensive text that aids with identification and discusses food, hunting, calls, status, distribution, alternative names, habitat, geographic variation, and similar species. Offering attractive range maps and an astounding 739 high-quality color photographs for all but 10 of 249 species, Mikkola’s landmark title is not overpriced. The maps are good but would be improved if some political boundaries were shown. Claus König’s Owls: A Guide to Owls of the World is also excellent, shows political boundaries, and has a much more extensive bibliography, but the paintings, although good enough, have a washed out, unsatisfying aspect. Mikkola’s introduction covers owls’ general biology and shared qualities in detail, with a glossary, and is a fine resource in its own right. VERDICT Attractive, complete, and handy, this book is most highly recommended for all but the smallest academic and public libraries. —Sally Bickley, William F. White, Jr. Lib., Del Mar Coll., Corpus Christi, TX

Mikkola, Heimo. Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide. Firefly. 2012. 512p. illus. index. maps. ISBN 9781770851368. $49.95. Nat HIst

This wonderful reference features elegant and striking photographs of many species of owls. Taylor (RSPB British Birdfinder), a British birding specialist, begins with a general discussion of owls, their hunting habits, breeding behavior, habitats, and threats to survival. The second part of the book provides specific information and photos on 41 different species. The book uses British terminology and spelling (e.g., ringed instead of banded). The “Owls and People” section cites books featuring owls that may be unfamiliar to Americans, but that is a minor complaint. It is challenging to read the small font, and the sections on taxonomy and anatomy might have been clearer with charts or diagrams. VERDICT Because it doesn’t cover all owl species, the book may not be comprehensive enough for ornithologists, and it may be a bit too scientific for amateurs. However, birders and owl fans of North America and Europe will find much to like about it, especially the exceptional photographs.— Henry T. Armistead, formerly with Free Lib. of Philadelphia