Feathered Marvels

The Natural History and Extraordinary Lives of Birds


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SKU: 9781476691886 Categories: ,

About the Book

From the discovery of the fossil Archaeopteryx to more than 10,000 different documented species today, birds have become the second most diversified class of vertebrates on Earth. Birds have evolved extensively since they first emerged in prehistoric times—but that diversity could dwindle and even vanish unless we take steps to conserve their habitats, ensuring that they sustain their numbers and their variety.
This natural history of birds starts in the distant past—going back to the Jurassic, Cretaceous and Paleogene periods—in order to get a broader understanding of the birds that we see today. Chapters cover their lives, breeding, flight, migration and more, while also highlighting some especially unique bird fossils, such as the Pelagornis Sandersi, which had a wingspan of more than 20 feet. Also included are chapters on the loss of needed habitats, the current decline of native birds, and what can be done to reverse it.

About the Author(s)

Dominic F. Sherony served as a member of the New York State Avian Records Committee for 11 years, and has published and lectured on various avian subjects. He lives in Fairport, New York.

Randi Minetor is the author of more than 80 books including birding field guides. She lives in Rochester, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Dominic F. Sherony with Randi Minetor
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 348
Bibliographic Info: 79 photos (all in color), appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9188-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5053-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Introduction 3

Part I—Birds in the Distant Past  5

 1. Birds in the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods 9

 2. Birds in the Paleogene Period 27

Part II—The Lives of Birds  37

 3. Adaptation and Diversity 39

 4. How Birds Are Different 53

 5. Breeding 84

 6. Flight and Migration 90

 7. Vagrancy and Dispersal 105

Part III—Extraordinary Birds  109

 8. The Megafauna of the Avian World 111

 9. Hoatzin: A Window Into the Past 117

10. Unusual Birds 120

Part IV—An Overview of Birds and Their Habitats  137

11. The Classification of Birds 139

12. Perching Birds and Forest Habitats 145

13. Flycatchers 165

14. Hawaiian Honeycreepers: Adaptive Radiation 175

15. Grassland Birds 180

16. Nectar-Feeding Birds 188

17. Wetland Birds 196

18. Seed–and Fruit-Eating Birds 208

19. Trogons 216

20. Oceanic Birds 222

21. Shorebirds 242

22. Birds of Prey 251

Part V—Birds in Our World: Today and In the Future  273

23. The Decline of Native Birds 275

24. Can We Support Environmental Conservation? 280

Appendix 1: Index of Latin Bird Names 293

Appendix 2: Glossary of Terms 306

References 311

Index 335

Book Reviews & Awards

• “There are many books on the natural history of birds. What distinguishes this one is its deep dive into the fossil history of birds to shed light on the lives of birds today. … In a chatty, bullet-point style, the authors take the reader on a journey through time as birds evolved from dinosaurs and survived them to radiate all over the world… This fine primer on what makes a bird a bird is well illustrated with color photographs, charts, and tables and features a long list of references for each chapter, making it a great starting point for bird study.”—Booklist

• “Feathered Marvels is an exceptionally deep but always accessible dive into the world of birds—their evolutionary history, their astounding diversity, and how they are coping with our modern world.”—Scott Weidensaul, New York Times bestselling author of A World on the Wing

• “Feathered Marvels is a valuable compendium of useful information on one of our most loved and threatened groups of animals, the birds. Dominic Sherony has written a book that will help any layperson develop their understanding of birds—why they are such amazing creatures, why we should care about them, and how we can help conserve their dwindling populations.”—Christopher Norment, PhD. emeritus professor of environmental science and ecology, SUNY-Brockport