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Kerry Atkinson is a physician and cell biologist who has been fascinated by wildlife, and in particular, birds from childhood. He has written or edited three textbooks on bone marrow transplantation but this is his first book that is not about biomedical science or medicine. Born in Belfast, he was brought up in Tonbridge in Kent, England and graduated from the University of London. He has worked in medicine in the UK, the USA and Australia. He is still involved in biomedical research and in conducting clinical trials with stem cells in Australia.
No bird books to date have included references to paintings by Velasquez, Van Gogh and John Constable, poetry by TS Eliot and Shelley or to Bob Dylan and Lamborghini sports cars – all with at least indirect links to birds and their behavior. This book contains facts on the number of bird species in the World, details of endemic bird species by country, the classification of birds, details of extinct birds, and special features of bird anatomy including eating, feathers and plumage, grooming and preening, eyesight, hearing, sense of smell, bills and beaks and feet. There is an extensive section on how and why birds sing and details of the many types of vocalization they use as well as non-vocal communications. Other sections detail the many types of bird flight, hunting techniques, courtship and mating, bird territories, nesting and the miracle of bird migration. There are additional sections on bird intelligence and learning, other aspects of bird behavior and details of bird lifespans. There is a list of the names used for for groups of birds of the same species. There is a section called FAQs, which answers questions such as which is the World’s largest bird, the World’s smallest bird, the fastest flying bird and the answers to many other questions about birds. There is a section on which person a specific bird species was named after, and finally a section on birds with the most intriguing names such as the Kagu, the Great Potoo, the Snoring Rail and the Melancholy Woodpecker. This book deals with birds from all seven of the World’s continents.