Beautiful Owls: Portraits of Arresting Species from Around the World by Marianne Taylor and Andrew Perris

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Beautiful Owls: Portraits of Arresting Species from Around the World by Marianne Taylor and Andrew Perris

Category: Animals and Wildlife
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Thirty six stunning portraits of owls from around the world and supporting information. An engaging read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 112 Date: July 2013
Publisher: Ivy Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1908005977

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Owls are strange birds: because they're crepuscular and twilight isn't the best time for seeing birds with any clarity they tend to be the stuff of legend and we don't know as much about them as we might. On the other hand, they're the most recognisable of birds, perhaps because of the forward-facing eyes and would look almost human if it was not for that uncanny ability to swivel the neck to almost 360°. Marianne Taylor has gone some way towards correcting this lack of knowledge in Beautiful Owls. She gives us an overview of the species, traces them back to the earliest civilisations and shows their evolution.

Owls can be divided into two main groups. Tytonidae contains about twenty six species of barn and bay owls, whilst the remaining 224 or so are Strigidae - generally known as 'true owls'. Barn owls usually have whites, greys and golden tones in their plumage rather than brown tones. All owls hunt living prey, ranging from the Little Owl which feeds mainly on insects through to the European Eagle Owl which can kill young deer and foxes. The owl's digestive tract allows them to swallow prey whole - but larger kill is eaten in pieces.

Most fascinating for me are the pieces on the senses - with line drawings to illustrate how the eyes and ears work (did you know that the ear openings are asymmetrical to give precise directional hearing?) - and feathers and flight and this part of the book is rounded off with information about calls and breeding, habitat and migration and finally, conservation.

The real joy of the book is in the photographs by Andrew Perris. They are superb both in detail and quality. I did wonder how they had been achieved - apparently it was in owl sanctuaries - and there are thirty six portraits, each accompanied by a description and information about the owl's hunting habits, call and song, size, habitat and distribution. It was, though, the photographs on which I concentrated. The layering of the plumage is fascinating and seeing the talons as the bird perched on a branch made it obvious that you would be better off not being an object of attention.

I thought this would be a quick read - but it wasn't. Apart from studying each picture I found that it's the sort of book which demands to be shared and a lot of conversations began with just have a look at... and can you imagine what... I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. If this book appeals then you might also enjoy How to be a BAD Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes.

Buy Beautiful Owls: Portraits of Arresting Species from Around the World by Marianne Taylor and Andrew Perris at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Beautiful Owls: Portraits of Arresting Species from Around the World by Marianne Taylor and Andrew Perris at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Beautiful Owls: Portraits of Arresting Species from Around the World by Marianne Taylor and Andrew Perris at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Beautiful Owls: Portraits of Arresting Species from Around the World by Marianne Taylor and Andrew Perris at Amazon.com.


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