First Aid and Care of Wild Birds. Edited by J. E. Cooper and J. T. Eley. David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1979. 288 pages; 23 black-andwhite photographs; 46 figures. £9.50.
There has long been a need for a book such as this. The care of sick and injured birds is a subject shrouded in ignorance, even for many vets, and this book should do much to clear away misconceptions. All the contributors are well qualified, including several veterinary surgeons, though, as with any editorial compilation, there is an uneven approach and some chapters are better than others. The subject is treated seriously--indeed scientifically--as it must be, but there is nothing that is not readily comprehensible to the interested layman. Much of the material is ostensibly directed at the wild-bird hospital, the aim wherever possible being the rehabilitation of the injured bird to the wild, although in practice the facilities required will mean that many incapacitated birds are better humanely destroyed--on which technique there is a chapter-- but the optimistic approach is encouraging. It is, however, questionable whether--as is stated--saving injured birds will help the population, except in the cases of a few rare species. As well as the expected chapters on diseases, injuries, poisons, oil pollution and parasites, topics as diverse as legal aspects, bird behaviour, captive breeding, cage and aviary design, and feeding are covered. Moreover, detailed references are given for each chapter, enabling the interested reader to delvedeeper. Three groups of birds which account for a large proportion of those picked up sick or injured get a chapter to themselves: birds of prey including owls, waterbirds, and crows.