Friday, February 27, 2009

Extreme birds

I stumbled across my old high school yearbook the other day, and was looking at the list of peer-nominated superlatives: Best Dressed, Worst Driver, Most Academic (gee, what a boost to your teen social life!). Our splashy new book about birds is very similar to this odd need to categorize people.
Extreme Birds: the world's most extraordinary and bizarre birds is crammed full of gorgeous color photos and interesting tidbits about the class Aves. In an attempt to enliven the subject and appeal to a wide range of readers, British birder and author Dominic Couzens has assigned each of the 125+ birds in this book with a particular accolade. Some of them make perfect sense: longest wingspan, most number of eggs, biggest eyes, etc.
Most of the categories seem to be a bit more subjective: biggest chauvinist, funniest forager, and most elegant dancer. When you read the accompanying text, however, you are completely drawn in to learning more about the life of each bird. Some of the categories and descriptions are amusing enough (and short enough) to entertain children as well as adults. I can't say whether the Northern Cardinal is truly the "Pushiest Female", but after reading Couzen's explanation I'm certainly ready to give it my vote.

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