The superlative identification guide now revised with 19 additional owl species.
Praise for the first edition: "[An] important book. Recommended for most libraries -- good value and quality for the price." --Booklist
"A spectacular book." --Library Journal, Best Reference of 2012
"A valued addition as a reference for bird enthusiasts and libraries." --Science Books and Film
Owls of the World, second edition, is the ultimate photographic resource dedicated to the identification of these charismatic birds of prey. The new edition is packed with spectacular photography of 268 species of owls from all over the world -- 19 more species than the original book. Many of the photos are of highly elusive species that are very rarely caught on camera.
The photos are accompanied by detailed text describing:
The photographic coverage includes plumages and subspecies which promotes differentiation between species, making this the definitive work on owl identification. Similar-looking ("confusion") species are included and owls are shown as adults from a perspective that clearly shows markings that assist in identification.
For birders, naturalists, photographers, researchers and any fan of these birds, Owls of the World is the definitive work on species identification as well as a comprehensive encyclopedia for reference and reading.
Heimo Mikkola is the world's best-known owl expert. Originally from Finland, he has traveled to 128 countries in the course of his 40-year research career in search of nocturnal birds.
In late 2009, I was approached by Jim Martin from Bloomsbury Publishing with a view to writing this new book on the world's owls, then more than 25 years after the publication of my own Owls of Europe, which is still available (as an e-book) from the same publisher. Since 1983, much has been published on owls and owl biology, including an excellent survey Owls of the Northern Hemisphere by Karel Voous (1988) and Owls of the World by James Duncan (2003), as well as the second edition of a comprehensive book on the taxonomy, distribution and identification of the owls of the world (Konig, Weick and Becking 2008). For the present work, all of these books have been widely consulted and the distribution maps are largely based on those in the last-mentioned book, with the kind permission of the publisher.
The majority of the world's owls, 68 percent, live in the Southern Hemisphere, the remaining 32 percent occurring in the Northern Hemisphere. Most are forest-adapted birds, and thus feeling the pressures of worldwide deforestation trends. An estimated 75 percent of the nearly 270 surviving species of owl are associated with dense and undisturbed forests, the very habitat that is nowadays being destroyed at ever-increasing rates. Deforestation, usually in order to make way for agriculture, has been underway for decades, Brazil and Indonesia being the hotspots. It was once widely believed that the voices of owls emanating from the dark forests were an omen of impending ill fortune, if not death. Perhaps we should now realise that it is, in fact, the increasing absence of owl voices that should be taken as a sign of impending ill fortune for the human species. In logged and silent forests the future will be a stressful one for the owls, as well as for all of us human beings. Although a majority of the world's people now live in cities, we are dependent more than ever on forests, in a way that few of us understand. We should recognise the great value of trees and forests in helping us to deal with the excess carbon that we are generating. The burning of forests not only ends their ability to absorb carbon, but it also produces an immediate flow of carbon back into the atmosphere, making it one of the leading sources of greenhouse-gas emissions. Trees themselves could become victims on a massive scale if climate change eventually causes widespread forest death in such places as Amazonia. One potentially promising plan calls for wealthy countries to help those in the tropics to halt the destruction of their immense forests for agriculture and timber. It is hoped that this book will help us all to understand more about how owls relate to their environment, and how important it is for us to use that environment wisely.
In the main, internet and literature searches for this book have not extended beyond the end of November 2011. It is expected that many new discoveries about owl distribution and biology will be made in the near future. There will certainly also be a major revision of some of the ideas about owl taxonomy presented in these pages, as they do, inevitably, raise more unanswered questions than give valid answers. It would be a great pleasure to receive readers' comments and criticisms on any matters connected with the owls of the world. Any photographs of new or less well-known species or subspecies would be similarly welcomed for future editions of the book. All communications should be addressed to the author c/o Bloomsbury Publishing or e-mail Jim.Martin@bloomsbury.com.
Introduction to second edition
This revised edition pays more attention to owl voices than the first edition. It also includes nineteen new species that have been described or separated since the book was published (up to May 2013), mainly on vocal differences; note that only four of these new species have been confirmed with DNA data. The taxonomy of world owls is still in a state of flux, so I would like to caution readers to keep an open mind on the species listed. It is more than likely that new owl species will be separated out on vocal and/or molecular grounds, and similarly some species now in the book may lose their species status when more is learnt of their distribution, ecology and genetics. Some 70 distribution maps and more than 30 photos have been corrected or added into this new edition. Literature and internet search for this edition ended in May 2013.
Acknowledgements Introduction What Makes an Owl?
Evolution of Owls Distribution and Biogeography Taxonomy and DNA-sequencing Owls and Humans Conservation Extinct Owls 'Owlaholics' Owl Associations and Global Research Organisations
TYTONIDAE: BARN, GRASS AND BAY OWLS
STRIGIDAE: TRUE OWLS
Further Reading Photographic Credits Index