T h e World of Birds. By James Fisher and Roger Tory Peterson. 288 pages, including 90 with colour lithograph plates of nearly 700 species, more than 200 maps and many half-tone illustrations. Macdonald, London, 1964. 5 gns. Contrary to some expectations, every increase in ornithological knowledge seems to multiply the numbers of amateur as well as professional ornithologists eager to learn more, and each new specialist offshoot quickly contributes towards ever wider and more ambitious efforts of summation and presentation in a new perspective. No sooner have we become accustomed to field-guides to bird identification on a more or less continental scale than we are faced with almost annual offerings of truly global range and of impressive competence and clarity. While each of these can and should be critically reviewed, this generation o£ ornithologists would be ungrateful indeed not to acknowledge their good fortune and indebtedness for a series of works which in comprehensiveness, up-to-dateness, accuracy and attractiveness of presentation have probably yet to be matched in any other branch of world-wide learning. Mr. Fisher and Dr. Peterson, combining the fruits of nearly a century of field work between them, have attempted no less a task than t o review the natural history of an estimated total of 8,580 living species of birds against the background of their evolution within 200 families, and of the many-sided studies and contacts to which they have been subjected by man. Inevitably the result is often sketchy, and sometimes superficial, but it is
Volume: 
Issue 11

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