Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Avian Architecture: Book Review and Give-away

How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build
by Peter Goodfellow

When Peter Goodfellow was growing up in England, he must have been one of those affectionately annoying little boys that asked a lot of questions, all the time. “How does this work?”, “Why does that happen?”, Where do you imagine that goes?”. And now, as an adult, Peter has taken that need for knowledge, that childlike curiosity, to a whole new level.

It is more than curiosity that drives an author such as Peter to write such a wonderful book. It is that need to know, that desire to connect with nature through knowledge and understanding, and the thrill of sharing it with others.

Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build
 AVIAN ARCHITECTURE, How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build, however, is not just about the ‘how’.  The interesting text, the well-drawn illustrations, and the beautiful photographs are cleverly punctuated with facts that also reveal the 'who, what, when, where and why'. The introduction gives a clear and precise accounting of what you can expect to find between the covers. Due to the fact that the focus is on the construction of different types of nests, the book covers every habitat, and how birds adapt, from all over the world. This makes it the perfect book for everyone.   In his own words, Peter's book "celebrates the diverse ingenuity and great dexterity of the finest of avian architects and builders".

While leafing through the book the first time I held it in my hands, I was naturally attracted to the chapter on community nesting because I spend most of my time on the rugged, rocky bound coast along the north Atlantic near terns and herons and the like. Not only does Peter explain about these nesting grounds, he also relates, in an ‘easy-to-read and understand’ way, the advantages and disadvantages of nesting in this manner, as well as, the social dynamics involved.  Now, with this knowledge, when I am observing these nesting grounds, I'll feel like a little more than just a mere 'observer'.

At the end of my busy day, when all was quiet and calm around me and I sat down to devote some serious time to reading , it wasn’t long before I realized that this is a book that made me want MORE. I barely started reading - I was only on pages 12 and 13, as a matter of fact, and I didn’t want to stop. Peter has embedded many interesting little facts throughout the text and I could hardly help myself from calling out to whomever might be nearby, “Hey, listen to this!” For instance, were you aware that the Short-eared Owl (Asia flammeus) builds a scrape nest?

Peter introduces each thematic chapter
with an overview of a specific nest type,

discusses the construction of the nest 
with accompanying blueprint drawings,

and showcases a few of the species of birds
that create such inventiveness
as 'case studies', "providing examples
of how different species adapt the nest type
to their specific habitat and requirements."

And somewhere inbetween these amazing pages
he covers "materials and features' and 'building techniques'.

Like Peter, I am also one of those people who needs to know.   (I just wish I could always remember!!)  I find it so fulfilling to glance up in the sky and be able to appreciate without second thought that the big bird I see is an osprey, not a gull or an eagle.  How I love to be paddling in my kayak and able to hear the birds and recognize the species.  I take great pleasure in hiking a trail, finding sign and being able to comprehend it’s origin.

'Knowing' fosters a sense of familiarity which, for me, breeds, not contempt, but a feeling of profound intimacy with nature. It embodies a purity, a spirit, and an emotion that swells up inside me, and yes, sometimes moves me to tears.

I’ve always wondered about nests, I’ve always wanted to know more about them.  By going beyond that of a guide book, Peter has unraveled this mystery, one of the many marvels of nature, with this first rate book, Avian Architecture.  It will be with great delight that I will now understand and appreciate the 'who, what, when, where, why and how' of the nests that I discover abandoned with the approach of fall, making yet another personal connection with our natural world.

Princeton University Press, is graciously offering a copy of Peter’s new book to one of my readers.  Leave a comment, spread the word, and in one week’s time, I will use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner.  Because this is such a fine book, to increase the odds, I'll give you an additional entry for anyone that stops by and mentions that you sent them! 

This is a must have book for anyone with
a curious mind!
Good Luck,
THANK YOU, Princeton University Press!!

Visit Nature Notes!!

P.S.  I noticed one or two of the commenters are no-reply bloggers!
Be sure to include your e-mail address in your comment
if this applies to you!  Thanks.

*This give-away is now closed.


Out on the prairie said...

The illustrations look wonderful.I would enjoy this big time.i am like you and need to identify and solve all questions I might have. I call this the scientist in me when I speak somewhere.

Dolores said...

What a great book. My favourite bird is the flamingo. Thanks for the chance to win.

texwisgirl said...

don't enter me as i was lucky enough to win your last avian giveaway (which is spectacular, btw!) just know that i appreciate you giving your readers a shot at this one too!

grammie g said...

Hi Karen...I would love to win this book ...the pages you showed look like it is a beautiful book!!
This morning I was wondering about the Kestrels that have nested in a cavity in a huge Weeping Willow tree in my front yard!!
The last of 7 which I think is the last to fledge was on the branch above the hole yesterday then ended up high in the tree...this morning the where right above the hole curiosity is would they return to the hole at night??? Couldn't find out anything...all the others had been of and out of the tree before nightfall or the next morning !!! Maybe this book would have some input
Sorry long do you know???
Thanks Grace!!

Carrie P. said...

wow, this is totally fascianting to me. I would love to win this book. Where my husband I walk there some Killdeer and they don't even really build a nest. Just lay their eyes among the rocks. It is amazing!
thanks for a chance.

Diane AZ said...

Wonderful review, it sounds like a fantastic book!

Simone de Klerk said...

Very interesting, Karen. I'm impressed by the way you describe your feeling to your discovery of this book. And I had to smile that you wanted to share your ohs and ahs with anyone near you..
How I would love to join you in your walks one day where there are lots of birds and you can tell me about them (:
Thank you for the chance to win a copy!

Kay L. Davies said...

This sounds like a wonderful book, Karen. I would love to read it, I know my sister-in-law would love it, too, and so would several friends of mine.
I just love the fact that someone has written about Avian Architecture. What a super subject!
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Loris said...

Hello, the book sounds wonderful and I'm here to give Carrie P (A Passion for Applique) another chance at winning it. This is her reward for posting a picture of a beautiful male cardinal on her blog today. One handsome bird!

Marian said...

I have to admit that I never really wondered about the architecture of birds' nests until you described this book, and now I too feel like I need to know! Carrie P. (A Passion for Applique) sent me over here, so if I win I might be kind and send it on to her. But not before I have a peek at it myself ;o)

Sondra said...

Well it sounds like an excellent book...Please add me to list of wannabe winners!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I would love to win this for Blossom, Karen! Gorgeous indeed!

WoolenSails said...

Carrie Sent me, so I wanted to come in and say hi and help her to win a copy and if I am the winner, she can get another chance;) Looks like a wonderful book, I was given a tripod, so hopefully I can get some better photos.


Lisa said...

would love the book!
Carrie P. from a passion for applique sent me over so please give her another entry!!

Lynn said...

What a beautiful blog you have, Carrie sent me and I'm glad she did. So much to look at, quilts, birds, beautiful photography.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Karen: What a neat look at such an interesting subject. Thanks for sharing.

Darlene B said...

I am always fascinated by watching birds in their day to day lives. My husband is a faithful bird-feeding guy and loves to watch them from our window. I would love to give this book to my hubby!

Anonymous said...

I have come to your blog via Carrie ( so that she may have another chance of winning your generous giveaway. Whilst here I have read some of your previous postings...and now I want to see if my local libarary has a copy of The Nature Principle, the book sounds so interesting. from Jenny McH (Australia)

Janet said...

Carrie P sent me over, the book looks amazing and it would be a fascinating read.

Jodi said...

Carrie P. sent me from A Passion for Applique. I got my love for birds from my mom - they are fascinating little creatures!

Val Laird said...

Hi Karen

What a fabulous giveaway! Sounds an absolutely wonderful book for someone who is hopelessly hooked on birds!!!

Yesterday we watched ospreys in two different locations - what a sight, along with the unbelievably wonderful white-bellied sea-eagle - a magnificent bird.

Crispy said...

Carrie sent me over. What a great book!! I love sitting at the kitchen window watching the robins stomping on the mud to shape their nests :0)


Linda said...

Hi Karen! You AND Carrie P. sent me here to enter to win. And if you pick my comment, I'll give my win to Carrie. How about that!?

Thanks for this nice giveaway.

tbooth said...

Was just leafing through this lovely book at the Portland Audubon Nature Store yesterday. Thanks for making a copy available!

Becky G said...

Hello! Carrie P has mentioned your site several times... including about this wonderful give away. It is so nice of you to offer her another chance to win since she mentioned this giveaway in her blog... but if she doesn't win it, I sure hope I do! This is facinating. Thanks much. In case it doesn't show up, here's my email address:

W. Latane Barton said...

I think it's very interesting how birds build their nests. So, I jumped right over here from A Passion for Applique (carrie p) when I read about the book on her blog.

Just Ramblin' said...

So glad you told me about this. It sounds so interesting. I watched a robin building a nest outside my window and was absolutely fascinated so I appreciate the chance to win a copy. Nola

Lily Hydrangea said...

My whole family would enjoy this book! Thanks for the heads up KaHolly!

Laurel said...

Hi Karen, I was sent here by Nola from Just 4 Ramblin. She knows I am an avid birdwatcher and has been telling me about your blog for some time. Thanks for a chance to win! Laurel at

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Please count my entry as one for Carrie P (
she would LOVE to win this book; and it looks like a great book at that!

Frank said...

This sounds like a very interesting and informative book ... thanks for the review Karen.

If I qualify (from a far distance) I would love to be included in the draw. Cheers FAB.

Anonymous said...

As a student of all things avian, this book would be a wonderful addition to my library. Thank you for offering the opportunity win a copy!

holdingmoments said...

Sounds, and looks, a fascinating book.

M and M plus 3 said...

Carrie P sent me over to have a look at your bird book. I hope she wins!

Rambling Woods said...

Well that is going on my wish list. I love reading books like this...Michelle

Linda Ivy said...

I to enjoy birds and there nesting. Would love to win this book. A passion for Appilque sent me to you site. Stay cool

Miriam said...

I came here from Carrie's blog too. The book looks fascinating!
I am another one of those people who "needs to know" ! lol

Shirley said...

Would love to win this book! Very interesting. Linda Ivy sent me to your site, please give her another chance to win. Thanks.

Robin said...

I'm over here from Carrie P.'s blog. What a fascinating subject! My son's preschool did a unit on birds last year so I got to learn a little about nests too, and it really is amazing what different species do to create their homes.

Kathie said...

HI! I found your blog thru your comment on my blog!
I have always had a fascination with birds and would love to make/design a bird quilt , use bird shapes and nests as quilting designs in a folk art style quilt....thanks for the opportunity to win what looks like a great book.

walk2write said...

Hi, Karen! I'm not much of a birder like most of your visitors. Living in the trees like we do now, though, has certainly changed my perspective. This book must really be special. Your enthusiasm is contagious.

Robin Robinson said...

What a fabulous book!I so need another book in my house, as much as I need more dog hair or dust or dirty laundry. But, this one may be a must have. I have been working on a photo series of nests of birds. I have collected quite a few images to be one day assembled as whole collection. The tricky part is identifying which belonged to whom. This book may be a big help, so a shopping I shall go! Thanks for the wonderful, informative review.

jabblog said...

This sounds a wonderful book, the sort of book one would refer to again and again. I wish I could retain more of the information I read, though:-)

Denise said...

What a lovely, lovely book. Thanks for such a great book review.

John said...

Hello Karen,

Long time, back after a break. Hope all is well. Sounds a great book and well reviewed. John