Book reviews

Margaret Atwood & Graeme Gibson
Joint Honorary Presidents of BirdLife International's Rare Bird Club

The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario (2001-2005) is a monumental achievement. Not only is it a stirring example of co-operative research - the field work alone entailed over 150,000 hours logged by more than 3000 volunteers - but the detailed results of that research have been presented with a remarkable clarity and style.

Invaluable for the thoroughness of its science, the Atlas is also a wonderful book to simply browse. The species accounts are clean, jargon-free, and inviting; the graphics contain a wealth of visual information; and the text is profusely illustrated with photographs of the birds, and frequently their nests and/or typical habitats.

This book is a must for everyone interested in birds, Ontario, and the natural world.

Chandler S. Robbins
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
(excerpt from Ontario Birds, in press)

Excerpt from a book review published in Ontario Birds: This book will surely serve as a model for other atlas projects worldwide, as it shows how the raw data from atlas projects can be refined in various ways to make them more useful for conservation planning. It is a classic in several respects. It represents a unique collaboration between national, provincial, and non-governmental organizations; a Herculean effort to sample the huge roadless areas of northern Ontario; use of five-minute point counts adjusted for time of day to estimate relative abundance throughout the province; and use of kriging to interpolate abundance from the 24 nearest neighbors to each target cell for abundance mapping. As a salute to the environment, the paper on which the book is printed was harvested from responsibly managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and net profits from the book will be used for bird conservation projects in Ontario.

Robert Bateman

I find the new Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario amazing and am delighted by its beauty and detail. The photographs of the birds are excellent and the graphic work is clear and absorbing. To view the book will be a joy for any birder but beyond that anyone who cares about our environment will find the data thought-provoking. The dark dots that indicate breeding in the first atlas but not breeding at present should be disturbing in many cases. What is happening to eliminate these birds from those areas? I would hope that this book was widely read beyond the birding community. It will stimulate interest in these valuable and fascinating creatures and it might help to guide environmental policies for the future.

Matt Medler
Boreal Songbird Initiative

After eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy of the "Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario 2001-2005" for a few weeks, I was excited to find it sitting on my doorstep yesterday afternoon. From the stunning cover photograph of Prairie Warbler to the extensive content inside, the book quickly proved that it was well worth the wait. In fact, I think this new Ontario Atlas is the finest breeding bird atlas that I have ever seen. Read more....

Steven Price
Senior Director
Conservation Science, Policy & Planning
World Wildlife Fund Canada

The "Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario" is wonderful, from cover to cover. Like many atlassers, I had been eagerly anticipating it, and while I had a sense from the first atlas and the website what to expect, the final result is simply outstanding. The more I refer to it, the more engaging and useful I'm finding it.

The introductory text is comprehensive, thoughtful and instructive. The pictures are a refreshing view of many species and each map provides a picture that quickly conveys more than just the sum of our square by square efforts. The dot colours in the maps work beautifully, and the methods of showing whether or not breeding evidence was found in the first versus the second atlas are clever and so very helpful. The listing of all atlassers along with their helpers seems to be me a great tribute to all who volunteered to make the project a success. The sponsors are nicely acknowledged also as a group, they comprise a strong and varied team. The fact that the Atlas was printed on FSC paper is further evidence of the commitment of the project to conservation.

The Atlas is a testament to the patience and work of many people over many years. Congratulations to all who have invested so much time and talent to this important research and conservation initiative.


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