Wednesday 1 April 2015

Book Review: Owls of the U.S. and Canada

Wayne Lynch
This was my Valentine's Day present from the cats, published in 2007, it was highly recommended!

The photos are absolutely amazing, no question.
I found that the chapters were a bit disconcerting.

I think I am used to the guide books, which are organized by species.

It is beautiful, no question, but if you DO have questions, it's difficult to find the answers.  The chapters can be obtuse, i.e., Son et Lumière, Haunts and Hideaways, The Next Generation. Clever titles, but I'm getting old for games!

 The book has tables comparing species, as another example, e.g., Weight and Wingspan (Anatomy of an Owl, chapter 1, p. 6), Clutch Size and Incubation Periods (Family Life, chapter 5, p.157).
I have had to mark pages with sticky notes to find them easily. There is a marvellously succinct section showing each owl species, Identification Guide (Chapter 1, pp. 25 - 34).
Which leads me to the placement of the page numbers. Where do you look for a page number? Yes, on the bottom, in a corner. In this book, the page numbers are in the centre middle of the margin. Underneath is the chapter title. Now, I am an old dog and can learn new tricks, but I really found it disconcerting. It is clever and creative, and I feel fooled every time I look for something.

The references are clear, complete and extensive, as evidence of Dr. Lynch's professionalism. He began as an emergency medicine professional and quit this in 1979 to work full-time as a science writer and photographer. His photos and knowledge are amazing, both.

There is an index, but it is tedious and as an aspiring editor I would have loved to have had my hands on it, prior to its publishing. I searched forever to find the range of my saw-whet owl, and found nothing.

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@Barrie Summy


Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
Yes, sometimes pretty overtakes the functional; it perhaps hasn't made up its mind to be a coffee table item or a true reference. Got a couple of such things on the bookshelf myself. Not sure why they got hauled halfway round the globe.... 'cept maybe the looking at big piccies of the birdies from back there soothes the heart a bit... oh, and they were gifts from good pals who knew my penchant for nature... YAM xx

eileeninmd said...

I love owls! Great review, thanks for sharing!

Sarah Laurence said...

I love the cover image of the owl! We had 6 snowy owls living at the airport in Brunswick which had to be trapped and released for their safety and the pilots. I miss seeing them while skiing.

Red said...

The owl seems to be a very popular bird recently.

Barrie said...

I'd like to see this book for the photos alone. :) Thanks for reviewing!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Gorgeous cover. Might be worth browsing through just for the images.

William Kendall said...

I get the same impression out of a couple of wildlife books- the photos and specific details are kept separate, and finding them can be a nuisance at times.

Powell River Books said...

We hear owls occasionally at the cabin but I've never seen one. - Margy

Ellen Booraem said...

Looks like a gorgeous book, with great photos and info, but how frustrating that it's not better organized! Thanks for the good assessment.