GI just got back on the road. Alone or wing to wing in a delicate collective formation, it crosses mountains, deserts and large cities: migratory birds that return to the breeding areas in the north on their way from the winter regions of southern Europe or Africa. Notable flocks of roaring cranes are being tracked unnoticed by millions and millions of songbirds. Often they sit in the spring in the same bush from which they disappeared the previous fall.
Animal migrations, especially its most obvious form, the migration of birds, have always fascinated people. Even in the Old Testament, the mysterious and mythical phenomenon was described in an amazing, accurate and cognitive way. Even the stork in the sky knows its times. Jeremiah says, turtle pigeon, swallows and castles, keeps the deadline for their return.
Non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand
Just in time for the arrival of the first returnees with us, two books were devoted to the phenomenon of animal migration. In “Migratory Birds,” British travel writer and nature writer Mike Unwin and photographer David Tiebling present individual species from different habitats and regions of the world in order to get close to the “miracle of bird migration”. In over sixty selfies, Onwin combines his own experiences with interesting facts from the life of bird species and the results of recent research. The result is often short aerial successful reports. Occasionally, however, standard information is also tied together in a referential work style.
Of course, the achievements of bird record holders are recognized: the Arctic tern, for example, covers nearly 100,000 kilometers around the world throughout the year and also finds time to raise its young on the German North Sea coast. Or the Joint Godwit, which flies from Alaska to New Zealand without landing and holds the record for long-haul non-stop flights with nine days. Remarkably complete and updated is a summary of more than a hundred years of scientific research into bird migration, which precedes Unwin’s photos of the species, compressed into a few pages.
Birds of prey or prey?
Adding to the annoyance is errors such as the assertion that the white stork has only re-established itself in Germany through re-introduction projects. The inaccuracies in translating bird names and some terms related to ornithology are more likely to be of English origin due to a German adaptation than the author. The use of the term “raptor” to stigmatize all birds of prey, which has been passed down for more than half a century, is also unfortunate. No publisher so keenly interested in scientific or environmental topics would leave that expression out of the way today – let alone authors associated with bird conservation.
“Zugvögel” is a combination of an illustrated book and a non-fiction book. One of the most difficult exercises in photography is capturing the phenomenon of bird migration in images that do not just show mass gatherings. This worked for some of the photos, which were mostly taken by other photographers other than David Tiebling. For example, the polar tern perched on glassy sea ice off Svalbard is fascinating.
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