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Extreme Birds: The World's Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds [Hardcover]

Dominic Couzens
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 10 2008

A photographic showcase of 150 birds at the extremes of nature.

Extreme Birds reveals nature's ingenuity and sometimes its sense of humor. The species showcased in this book are chosen for their extraordinary characteristics and for behaviors far beyond the typical. They are the biggest, the fastest, the meanest, the smartest. They build the most intricate nests, they have the most peculiar mating rituals, and they dive the deepest or fly the highest. These are the overachievers of the avian world.

Some examples:

  • Most skilled nest builder: The tiny southern masked weaver reveals a surprising grasp of the principles of architecture. In just five days it weaves and knots thousands of fine grass strands to build a complex sphere-like nest that hangs from the tip of an overhead branch.
  • Deadliest enemy: The southern cassowary is big (140 pounds), tall (6 feet) and fast (30 mph). This flightless bird can also leap 5 feet into the air and has 5-inch long claws that are capable of stabbing and disemboweling a human being.
  • Most creative decorator: The blue bower bird creates an elaborate "bachelor pad" bower and decorates it with colorful baubles, blue preferred and the shinier the better.

Enlivened with entertaining facts and anecdotes, Extreme Birds is an engaging celebration of nature's enormous imagination and will appeal to all readers, especially birders and naturalists.

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Product Description


The superlatives of the feathered world, including "cleverest hunter" and "best drummer. (Science News 2008-12-06)

With a nod to researchers and conservation, a UK bird expert showcases the extreme forms, abilities, behavior and survival techniques in this oversize volume with full-page color photographs. (SciTech Book News 2009-12-00)

A wonderful collection of bird superlatives... Fascinating facts and beautiful photographs make this one a winner. (Nancy Bent Library Journal 2008-11-01)

Anyone interested in bird trivia will enjoy this coffee table book. (Birdbooker Report 39 livingthescientific.com)

This colourful coffee-table book boasts stunning full-page photos, a bright, crisply written text and an irresistible premise: fun facts about "the world's most extraordinary and bizarre birds."... The text, comprising only a few paragraphs on each bird, is both authoritative and inviting and the design is simple, clean and accessible. This is a perfect book for nature-loving kids and adults who may -- or may not -- be avid birders. I mean, doesn't everyone want to know which bird has the snuggest underwear? (Val Cunningham Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN 2008-11-18)

You probably didn't figure that birds could be quite so fascinating or downright weird. Open any page in Extreme Birds and you'll see them in a whole new light.... These are truly amazing birds, and author and bird expert Dominic Couzens excels at sharing his avian enthusiasm. The writing, far from having dry, scientific descriptions, is humorous and entertaining...Each entry is accompanied by an astonishing photograph. They're worth a look on their own. (Johanna Weidner Grand Magazine 2009-02-28)

Anyone interested in bird trivia will enjoy this coffee table book. (Scientific Life (Birdbooker Report 39) 2008-12-22)

From colorful to bizarre, the world of birds is very strange indeed. Extreme Birds provides a wealth of fun factoids on our feathered friends from ugliest looks to the biggest belly. (C.A. Boylan Shutterbug 2009-01-02)

Dominic Couzens enthralls the reader with Extreme Birds and the subtitle is accurate. These are the world's most extraordinary and bizarre birds, whether for their appearance or behaviours, a veritable Guinness book of Avian Records. (Jodi DeLong Chronicle Herald 2008-12-07)

This is a great big coffee-table book, but it's one that's sure to be examined by everyone in the family because the information is presented in such a reader-friendly way. (Waterloo Region Record/Guelph Mercury 2008-12-13)

The author, a popular British ornithologist, has collected a remarkable diversity of avian extremes.... The text is interesting, accurate, and up to date with recent discoveries. The lavish photography completes this book, which will have a wide appeal. (Charles Leck American Reference Book Annual)

Hooked! I expected widest wingspan, smallest bird, longest bill and so on, but heaviest testes, biggest belly and smelliest bird took me by surprise.... Many of the author's choices will not surprise the ardent birder...although the author tucks in many fascinating details.... I usually read bird books to learn something.... I read this book because it is fun. Even when I knew the facts, such as the Emperor Penguin's unbelievable fast, I enjoyed the author's version of the tale. It was even better when I was learning something new.... So if you want to know the biggest, the fastest, the smallest, best nest builder, weirdest matings and who dives the deepest or flies the highest, then this is the book for you. Even non-birder trivia fans will get great enjoyment. Oh yes, and the heaviest testes (8% of its body mass and heavier than its brain) record is held by the Alpine Accentor. For good reason too, but you really should read the book to find out why! (Roy John The Canadian Field-Naturalist, Vol. 121 2009-01-00)

A great book full of interesting facts about 135 of the extremest birds in the world. (Wildlife Activist 2010-06-00)

Following a brief introduction, Dominic Couzens presents to the reader birds extreme in form, ability and behaviour, and some 'extreme families', too. The style of the text facing the large and impressive photographs is lively, often with a humorous slant, but there is plenty of good science as well... As an addition to a secondary school library, this book might well elicit a few 'wows' and 'yucks', but it will also provide a stimulating and colourful source of information about the life of some bizarre birds. (M. G. Wilson IBIS, British Ornithologists' Union 2008-01-00)

OLA Best Bets for Children 2010. Get up close and personal with some of nature's most fascinating creatures. Beautiful colour photographs coupled with interesting facts and trivia make this and the other books in the Exploring the World of... series a must see! (Ontario Library Association 2011-02-05)

This is a beautifully illustrated account of over 130 species of birds and their associated morphologies and behaviors. Whether intended or not, the species chosen...span the breadth of avian diversity from a taxonomic perspective. Concurrently, through exquisite photographs of each species, readers gain a visual glimpse into the amazing diversity of bird morphologies and behaviors... Although these species accounts are presented in a coffee-table book format, the knowledge relayed by the author is surprisingly current with respect to the scientific literature. As a professor of two different ornithology courses, I gleaned many pieces of new information on bird behavior and ecology that will make great fodder for various lecture topics. Overall, Extreme Birds provides a wonderful tribute to the astounding lifestyles encompassed by the world's birds through its fine photography combined with knowledgeable accounts of unique snippets of avian natural history and ecology. (Muir Eaton, Biology, Drake University, Des Moines, Quarterly Review of Biology 2011-03-00)

About the Author

Dominic Couzens has written many books on birds and birding, leads specialized bird tours, and is a regular contributor to Birdwatch and BBC Wildlife magazines.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Extreme Birds April 6 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very interesting and inexpensive book. A treasure trove of tidbits of interesting info. about the sometimes bizarre behaviour of birds.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FASCINATING Nov. 8 2008
This book is high levels of both information and entertainment. It features many birds you, more than likely, have never even heard of and their special powers, abilities, quirks, traits, etc. for which they are known (i.e. Longest Wingspan, Biggest Mouth, Smelliest Bird, and so on). It is sometimes funny, sometimes scary ... but mostly funny ... and ALWAYS fascinating.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Tribute to Extraordinary Birds! March 7 2009
By Michael OConnor - Published on Amazon.com
Noted bird author/authority Dominic Couzens and Firefly Books have combined to produce this drop-dead gorgeous photo and word tribute to some of our world's most exotic, unique and/or downright strange birds. Whether you're a rabid birder or just love to look at lovely, over-size pix of birds, you'll enjoy this book.

EXTREME BIRDS tops out at 287 pages and is divided into categories: Extreme Form; Extreme Ability; Extreme Behavior; and Extreme Families. Paging through "Extreme Forms," you find birds with the widest wingspan, the biggest eyes, the strongest claws, the lightest bones, the longest tongue and the biggest belly. Under "Extreme Ability," you'll come across birds that are rated as the fastest swimmer, have the fastest wing beat, are the biggest binge eaters, the most prolific breeders and the best mimic. Checking out "Extreme Behavior" will produce info and photos relating to the cleverest hunter, the smartest scrounger, the craziest suitor and the best avian soap opera. Entries in "Extreme Familiies" include shortest courtship, sneakiest bigamist, warmest nest, bravest chick, fiercest defender of the nest and so on. All wonderfully entertaining and informative!

The photographs that illustrate these notable birds are from a variety of agencies such as Foto Natura, FLPA, Minden Pictures, Photolibrary, Panda Photo and other sources. Simply put, the photos in EXTREME BIRDS are magnificent - crisp, colorful, evocative and altogether charming.

All in all, Dominic Couzens' book is a marvelous photo-guide to some of our more noteworthy feathered friends. Highly recommended.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than expected Oct. 27 2009
By Diana L. Gross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very large book with beautiful pictures. Even more fantastic than I expected. A great book for anyone who is fasinated by the bird world or even those who are not fasinated. Interesting, educational, and entertaining. Love it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond just the name March 6 2010
By Himri - Published on Amazon.com
I recognised the bird on the cover as a shoebird from a national geographic article but didnt know that it was the 'most patient feeder'. This book is about the record holders. If it were just that it could have come out on cards with stats. The book is at its best with its explanation for flamingo's long legs, ostriches large eyes, jacana's spread out toes tied to their environment.
The literature goes into more depth about say a humming bird's flight with its digits beyond the fast wing-beat rate. Having seen the shorebirds always on ground, looking at a picture of godwits in flight, it came as a surprise to me that they and plovers migrate so far.
'Biggest communal nest' of sociable weaver had me thinking of beaver's house.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing use of bird behaviors and english languge!! Jan. 24 2011
By Grethen2 - Published on Amazon.com
Could any book be better?, no way. I am a Mom to an 8y/o and forever looking for books that use language in its most correct way. This books if full of elegant sentences and with lovely, detailed, descriptions of just about everything that has to do with birds and bird life. For every one, 8 and up!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars extreme birds Jan. 26 2012
By Luuc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
just a book to look into whenever some time left. In short a nice variety of birds, a picture, some lines of text. Enough for anyone that knows birds to see this is special. This bird is way out of line. Makes you wanna think about those not mentioned, then you see they are almost all there; I found heteronetta atricapella (cucou behaving duck) was missing. But the biggest, heaviest, most colorfull: they are all there with some facts, nice to know.
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