Birds: Explore Their Extraordinary World

Bloomsbury. Apr. 2021. 64p. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9781547605293.
Gr 4-6–Birds evolved from dinosaurs. As they spread across the world into almost every habitat, they showcased flight, plumage, and distinctive songs and calls. Harding’s vivid linocut illustrations complement short chapters that detail specific habitats. The text also explains how avian characteristics such as feathers and beaks ensure the bird’s success in these environments. The chapter on birds of prey provides astonishing facts: The largest is the 30-pound Andean condor; the tall secretary bird of Africa kills by kicking its prey to death. Specific locations of outstanding species are not always mentioned, such as the smelliest (hoatzin) and the bird with the longest bill (the sword-billed hummingbird). Sometimes the general nature of the short descriptions omits important details. For example, the osprey’s talons are described as “backward-facing,” but only the outer talon can rotate to secure a more stable grip on a captured fish. The illustrations are striking; the depiction of the fierce golden eagle is wonderful.
VERDICT An ambitious, gorgeous overview of bird adaptations.

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