Cranes of the World. By Paul A. Johnsgard. Croom Helm, London, 1984. 258 pages; 23 colour plates; 24 black-and-white plates; several linedrawings; range-maps. £25.00. Paul Johnsgard used to be known almost solely as a wildfowl man, with a long list of important papers and books to his name. In recent years, he has branched out and produced books on game-birds, waders, and now cranes, with other groups apparently in the pipeline. The advantage of this system is that the books are written by a leading bird-researcher, well able to sift facts from the literature and to express them clearly and coherently. The possible drawbacks are the author's lack of personal knowledge of the group and the danger that current, as-yet-unpublished research will be missed. Judging by the acknowledgments, this latter point seems to have been well covered. The first third of the book is devoted to a series of very interesting chapters dealing, in a comparative fashion, with classification and evolution, behaviour, vocalizations (horrible word!), ecology, population dynamics, reproduction, aviculture and conservation. There is a final chapter on cranes in myth and legend. The 14 full species of cranes in the world are then given an average often pages each, covering all aspects of their biology, distribution (with a map), status, and soon. The literature seems to have been very thoroughly surveyed, and gaps in knowledge are pointed out. No less that seven species, and a further three subspecies, are rare or endangered. The famous Whooping Crane still probably numbers under 100, though three or four times more numerous than 30 years ago, and the Siberian and Japanese Cranes each probably number around 200 individuals. 

Volume: 
Issue 6
Start Page: 
281
Authors: 
Allsopp, K
Display Image: 

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