Review: Nocturnal Birds of Southern Africa

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TO Nocturnal Birds219

Nocturnal Birds of Southern Africa

By John Carlyon (self published)

John Carlyon has produced a remarkable book.

He has detailed and catalogued the secretive existence and life of our night birds.

Those of us who may have spent some nights outdoors will recognise certain night bird calls, yet few have seen them at all.

Each bird has its own detailed chapter which features its general scientific information. A world map gives precise details on where it is found and similar species.

Of interest to the avid bird enthusiast will be information on where the bird is likely to be located, giving names and areas within local countries.

As plumage may vary from area to area, this is covered in some detail, which makes identification of normally hard to identify nightjars, for instance, much easier.

Some of the best photographs of birds grace these pages, and it is evident that all meant thousands of sleepless night hours waiting for the best shot.

Photos of typical habitat will assist readers in finding likely sighting locations.

Many pages per bird species are filled with information on their biology and habits, accompanied by beautiful pictures of the birds and their eggs, nests and chicks.

Sadly, many of our owls and nightjars are endangered because of the most destructive of all species – people.

Birds have lost their nesting sites because of the constant draining and burning of wetlands, and increased road traffic is killing birds, which become transfixed by vehicle headlights.

Owls are also targeted and killed for muti and chased away from human settlements because of traditional superstitions. The truth, however, is that owls and snakes are the farmer’s best friend because they counter destructive rodent populations.

Each bird has a “fast fact” page, which covers all its scientific and technical information as well as common names in other languages. If one needs help to find these birds, it pays to know their names in specific areas.

This book is a “must-have” for anyone remotely interested in nature. – Ed Lemke


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