Princeton University Press, July 2009. 292 pages, hardcover, 80 colour and black and white illusrations
Forshaw, Joseph M (Author), Gilbert, Albert Earl (Illustrator)
This is a definitive natural history of the spectacularly beautiful tropical birds known as the trogons, a family that includes the legendary Resplendent Quetzal, the sacred bird of the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. A collaboration between renowned ornithologist Joseph Forshaw and eminent bird artist Albert Gilbert, Trogons combines science and art to create an unprecedented picture of a threatened bird family.
Forshaw’s text provides the most authoritative and comprehensive account of the trogons ever written, and Gilbert’s stunning paintings are the first to accurately depict all species of trogons in their natural habitats and true colors. The book’s detailed synthesis of current knowledge about the trogons is enriched by Forshaw’s personal field observations in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Americas, while Gilbert’s meticulous artwork is based on fieldwork in the same areas. With its large format, more than 40 full-color plates, and state-of-the-art five-color printing, this limited-edition book promises to become a classic and a collector’s item. Despite their long association with human culture, trogons remain poorly known.
Much of the existing ecological information comes from studies of a few neotropical species undertaken in the 1930s and 1940s by Alexander Skutch in Costa Rica and Guatemala, and more recent field studies of the Elegant Trogon at the northern extremity of the range. There have been longstanding uncertainties about the relations and origins of trogons. Kingfishers and their allies have often been nominated as the trogons’ closest allies and a New World origin was assumed because most trogon species are now found in the neotropics. However, recent studies have supported placing trogons in a separate order-Trogoniformes-with possible affinities to the African mousebirds, and there is some evidence for an Old World origin. At a time when researchers and fieldworkers are showing increasing interest in the trogons, and when tropical forests, the home of most trogon species, are threatened by logging and land clearing, this book is intended to not only summarize and advance knowledge about trogons but also to draw attention to the urgent need to protect these magnificent birds by safeguarding the habitats so critical to their continued survival. Trogons is an essential volume for libraries, birders, conservationists, ornithologists, eco-tourists, and collectors of fine bird books.
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