Volumes on the Wing: Collecting Books About Birds
Yea the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God." Psalm 84:3.
Our wonder and fascination with birds was already ancient when the psalmist revealed his own study of these familiar, yet exotic creatures. Because the bird was the first animal man envied, for its ability to fly, birds have always held a unique place in our cultural memory. Bird metaphors color our language. Bird stories enrich our folk-tales, fables, parables, and rhymes. Our homes are decorated with images of birds and their multi-varied plumage. The full variety of species has never been fully catalogued, which means that even the amateur bird-watcher may make the next great discovery of a here-to-fore unknown bird; and almost as fascinating as the birds themselves, are the books written about birds.
No discussion of books about birds can pass without mention of John James Audubon. One of the first naturalists to depict the wildfowl of America, original prints of his paintings of birds now command premium prices at auction.
Audubon's artwork has been reproduced in numerous volumes over the years and any book containing his illustrations is a handsome book indeed.
In the tradition of Audubon, Athos and Sarah Menaboni of Atlanta, Georgia have produced one of the most influential collections of bird prints to appear in recent years. With Athos providing the artwork and Sarah writing the text. MENABONI'S BIRDS is a treasure, both for the library of the bird enthusiast or the collector of fine art.
Reference works for the bird enthusiast have been abundant, the best known being Roger Tory Peterson's FIELD GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. One of the finest guides written was produced by Charles Bendire for the Smithsonian Institution. Bendire's LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS catalogued the Smithsonian's considerable collection of birds and was printed in 1892.
Photography has brought radical change to the study of birds. Crawford W. Greenwaldt has used the camera to record the hitherto unseen movements of the tiny hummingbird throughout North and South America. From the rainforests of equatorial Brazil to the banks of the Mississippi River, Greenwalt's lens has captured these jaunty acrobats of the air.
Books about birds can be restricted by genus and species, such as Ripley's RAILS OF THE WORLD, or by location as in the limited edition BIRDS OF LA PLATA. There are as many books devoted to birds of prey as to birds preyed upon. If you wish to stalk birds there are guides for those who hunt with firearms and those who hunt with cameras. If there is someone on your gift list who loves both birds and books, then C. Dickens Fine, Rare and Collectible Books is the place to find a memorable present for their collection.
Copyright 1996 - 2001 C. Dickens Fine, Rare and Collectible Books, Atlanta, Georgia