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We're in a race against time — to give birds a fighting chance in a rapidly changing world. Your support will hellp secure the future for birds at risk from climate change, habitat loss, and other threats. By Wayne Mones January 28, Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates. Take Action.

Get Audubon in Your Inbox Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news. Find Audubon Near You Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program. Her drawings would be sufficient by themselves, but Ms. Von Grouw has also provided a thorough, accurate, and accessible text which further explains anatomical details and evolutionary relationships. There is nothing in the literature of birds or bird art that is anything like The Unfeathered Bird.

Anyone who loves birds and bird art will want this volume. A magnificent--and accessible--monograph on biodiversity. It invites you to browse but then catches your interest and when I intended to look through it as if waiting for the coffee to arrive I found myself slowing up to read about how the environmental niche needs skeletal variation and what makes for diving and what merely submerging. Pre-DNA taxonomy has relied on skeletal differences to reveal the phylogenetic tree so this look beneath the skin is not mere curiosity but science with a capital 'S'.

On the other hand there is a beauty on the form. I've always loved scientific drawings whether of birds or botanical specimens as there is not just science in their accuracy but beauty too. This exquisitely illustrated study of bird anatomy is captivating in both its insight and its originality of illustration from the very first page.

common moorhen or Gallinula chloropus or waterhen and swamp chicken Bird Call

The author states that the original intention was a book aimed at artists and it was only during the early stages that she realized it could have wider appeal. In my opinion it was a realization which has come to fruition in a beautifully crafted, scholarly and ultimately fine book. Illustrations that go beneath the feathered surface of birds and explore how their internal anatomy functions in different settings--one impressively underwater--is a scientific feat in itself.

Truly challenges the idea that art is separate from scientific inquiry. Just when you think you have seen every trick Avian Anatomy has to throw at you, you turn the page and are greeted by the windpipe of Phonygammus keraudrenii the Trumpet Manucode or the tongue of Picus viridis the Green Woodpecker.

Particularly welcome is the large size with which many images are so boldly presented It's early in the year, but I doubt if will see a book published that is more interesting or fascinating or better done than Ms.


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Her work shows the skeletal and muscular systems of different species, from ostriches to hummingbirds, parrots to penguins, in life-like poses. Every image is arresting, but several--like the great cormorant, grey heron and rook--are so vibrant that they seem to fly off the page. This would also make a great gift for a birding friend who seems to have every bird book in print. She fleshes out and feathers a wide variety of bird species with rich detail of their behavior, anatomy, and evolutionary adaptations.

The Unfeathered Bird reveals things about birds that you may never have imagined, like the coiled wind-pipe of the Trumpet Manucode. An illuminating and meticulously illustrated look at the brilliance of birds at the intersection of art, science and history, covering such intricate mysteries as how the ostrich lost two of its four toes and why the vulture diverged into radically different Old World and New World varieties Meticulously researched, gloriously illustrated, and absorbingly narrated, The Unfeathered Bird lives at the heart of that timeless temple where art and science meet to enrich one another with 'systematic wonder.

Overall the level of detail in the text is well matched with the artwork resulting in a comprehensive whole that I think meets the authors goal of making this book a well done 'convergence of art and science; accessibility and erudition; old and new--without compromise and without apology. But I had been expecting that. What really surprised me is how much I loved reading it.


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It's fascinating, relevant, and will deepen your appreciation for these amazing creatures. This book is like a marriage of a technical ornithology book and an artist's portfolio but even better because the text reads in an entertaining fashion for anyone that is interested in birds. The Unfeathered Bird deserves its place in the center of the coffee table: not only a must-have for the libraries of science artists, but as a classic for all lovers of natural history. It is also readable, rather than filled with off-putting scientific terminology This acts as both a fine reference and an expert artist's portfolio.

It is an original work by a prodigiously talented bird artist It deserves to be widely admired. Monumentally impressive, 25 years in the making, The Unfeathered Bird is simply superb. I've been fascinated by birds for most of my life, but after reading The Unfeathered Bird I'm looking at them in a slightly different way, seeing more than I did before, and I'm pretty sure that anyone--birder or non-birder--will react in much the same way.

So get one for a friend too. Their unfeathered selves are real specimens that are posed in the act o Heft this book, open it at random, and your first reaction might be, "Ah, a coffee-table book. Their unfeathered selves are real specimens that are posed in the act of flying, walking, or standing, even as they would have in life.

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The author hastens to assure us that "no birds were harmed" in the production of the book. She has taken specimens that were already dead and prepared them for her drawings. If that were all there was to this book, it could pass as a beautiful art book, but it is really much more than that. The text is informative and is written with great good humor.

It tells us much about the lives of these birds and how they go about making their livings. It is almost as riveting as the drawings, and it is the perfect accompaniment to them. Now, I am an avid birder, so perhaps it is not surprising that I should find a book about how their bodies are put together and how they work to be a fascinating bit of work. But I really don't think that you need be even very interested in birds to be able to enjoy this book. If you simply possess a modicum of curiosity about the natural world; if you are charmed by art that depicts animals, especially birds; if you enjoy erudite and witty writing, then I think you are the perfect audience for the book.

Katrina van Grouw is a gifted writer and artist who obviously knows her birds. As a former curator of the ornithological collection at London's Natural History Museum, she also knows her bird art. She says that the creation of The Unfeathered Bird has been her lifetime's ambition. It was a worthy ambition and she has fulfilled it beautifully. A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Jul 27, Jennifer rated it it was amazing. This is a gorgeous book.


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They are so many different bird species illustrated that you really do see how they are so structurally different but they still tend to have many biological things in common. Def for a bird and art lover. I found it very interesting to see the different shaped skulls of the different bird species, they are not something that is very common amongst skull collections for drawing due to their being so fragile. Featured on Skeptically Speaking show on May 17, , during an interview with author Katrina van Grouw.

Mar 18, Kitri Miller rated it it was amazing Shelves: science , non-fiction. This book is an amazing work on the study of the anatomy of birds. It has hand-drawn works of skin, muscle, and bone structure, often in life-life positioning, with text to go with a description to understand the individual species and the larger group that it is within.

It is a great way to understand birds, anatomy and the wonders that art can contribute to the world of science.

Review: The Unfeathered Bird, Katrina van Grouw, Princeton University Press, | Audubon

Aug 26, Mark rated it really liked it Shelves: natural-history. A large format collection of hundreds of drawings of bird anatomy of about different bird species. The author's discussion of each bird relates their anatomy to their evolution and behavior. A brilliant project. Mar 05, Cheyenne Smith rated it really liked it. The details in this book were amazing. Mar 01, Dylan Taylor rated it it was amazing Shelves: natural-history.

The quality of the art is excellent, and the information that accompanies is accurate, informative, and well written.

Pert, poised unfeathered birds

Feb 26, Don rated it liked it Shelves: art. Limited range of birds; but very nicely executed. The accompanying text is quite weak.