Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Splendor of Birds

The Splendor of Birds: Art and Photographs From National Geographic
Foreword by Jonathan Baillie, Text by Catherine Herbert Howell
National Geographic Society/Penguin Random House: 10/23/18
hardcover review copy; 512 pages
ISBN-13: 9781426219672

The Splendor of Birds: Art and Photographs From National Geographic is a very highly recommended collection of the best artwork and photography from the National Geographic archives featuring birds.

This visually stunning, breath-takingly beautiful collection covers 130 years of the National Geographic collection of photos and artwork celebrating birds. The Splendor of Birds was created to commemorate the Year of the Bird initiative, which is a year-long effort dedicated to protecting and celebrating birds.. The gorgeous large hardcover book is arranged chronologically so readers can witness the tremendous growth in our knowledge of birds: Chapter 1 covers 1888-1939; Chapter 2 1940-1969; Chapter 3 1970-1999; and Chapter 4 covers 2000-2018. At the end of the book is a list of all the contributors with a short biography of each of them. There is also a species index.

Since being founded in 1880, the National Geographic Society has a long-standing tradition of supporting increased knowledge, including about birds. They have funded nearly 1,000 scientific grants which focused on birds and have invested nearly 2 million dollars over the last two years on projects to protect and understand birds.

The gorgeous photography and lovely artwork from National Geographic are depicted together to honor the history and wonder of birds. There are also then and now comparisons throughout  the book as well as short featured pictures of individual topics, for example babies, nests, and feathers. The diversity of the photos of birds from around the world is amazing, moving from vintage black and white photos to the current day state-of-the-art camera shots. All the pictures are magnificent and some are stunning. Some of the photos are so incredible they seem unbelievable or even surrealistic. The sheer beauty of some of the photos may move you to tears, as they did me.

Ever since my father, a dedicated nature lover and bird watcher, took all of us to the Platte River in Nebraska every year in the 60's and 70's to watch the migrations of the Sand Hill cranes and the whooping cranes, I have loved watching birds. The picture of the sand hill cranes on pages 482-483 brought all those many viewings back to life for me and I wish my father was still here so I could share this book with him.

This volume is truly a keepsake that will be cherished for years. I would also keep this in mind for the upcoming holiday season since The Splendor of Birds would make an excellent gift.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from National Geographic and TLC

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