The book begins with short essays on timely conservation issues ranging from the thrilling rediscovery of the Madagascar Pochard Aythya innotata to profiles of key field workers involved in recent discoveries of new species and the impact of global warming or ecotourism of rare species and their conservation. The main meat of the book is the directory of Critically Endangered birds most of which are beautifully illustrated with photographs (or in a few cases painted plates). Some of the species are well known but tragically a few have not been seen for certain in some years. The text discusses the current population, threats and conservation plans (actual and recommended). A table of significant dates (collection of type specimen, formal scientific description, discovery of nesting sites, major census efforts etc) is useful. The third section of the book consists of appendices, such as a list of last sightings, and countries that host endangered species.
There are plans for the book to be updated annually (in softback) and £4 (i.e. $USD8, €5 or ¥852) of the sale price on each book is plowed back into BirdLife International conservation projects. Publication of Rare Birds Yearbook 2009 is scheduled for October 2008. This will be an attractive series to collect and will provide readers with a convenient annual overview of the noble and truly global efforts to protect the rarest of the rare.
Even if you never crack the book open, one would do well to buy a copy just to acknowledge your, support and appreciation for the dedicated efforts of bird conservationists in hundreds of countries around the world.
Rare Birds Yearbook: the world's 189 most threatened birds
Erik Hirchfeld (Ed). 274 pages, numerous photos, color paintings and maps.
Published 7th November 2007
Retail Price: £18.95 (UK)