British Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology are pleased to announce the winner of the award for Best Bird Book of the Year 2021. All books reviewed in BB, BTO News and on the BTO website during the year 2021 were eligible for consideration for this award.
For the second year in a row, judging for BBBY was held online. An initial vote from each of the judges determined the short list, with 11 of the 45 eligible titles going forward to the final round.
Winner: European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 by Verena Keller, Sergi Herrando, Petr Voříšek, Martí Rodríguez-Franch, Marina Kipson, Pietro Milanesi, David Martí, Marc Anton, Alena Klvaňová, Mikhail V. Kalyakin, Hans-Günther Bauer and Ruud P. B. Foppen
Lynx Edicions, 2020.
Considered by the judges to be the most significant, influential and far-reaching title of the past 12 months, all six awarded their top marks to EBBA2. The book’s wide appeal, broad application and significant contribution to science were all commended. The judges praised both the high value of the publication’s content and the accessible way in which information was presented, from the readable texts to the different maps, which deliver data in clear and easy-to-interpret ways. With a growing number of species showing changes in population and distribution, this title not only offers an up-to-date overview of the current situation for each species but will also act as a vital checkpoint to look back on and compare against over the coming decades.
2nd: All the Birds of the World by Josep del Hoyo (editor)
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, 2020.
A book featuring and illustrating, quite literally, every bird in the world was deemed to be one of the most exciting titles on the shortlist, and the culmination of many decades of work by Lynx Edicions and Josep del Hoyo. With other, more-extensive incarnations of the same work available, such as Birds of the World online, the judges felt that this title represented more of a luxury product – to leaf through (and drool over) – rather than a reference work per se, but that did nothing to detract from the beauty and exceptional quality of All the Birds of the World. The judges agreed that the title offered something for everyone.
3rd: Flight Identification of European Passerines and Other Selected Landbirds: an Illustrated and Photographic Guide by Tomasz Cofta, photographs by Michal Skakuj
Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2021.
In a field where many topics have already been covered, an identification guide covering only passerines in flight is a novel idea. While the illustrations are excellent, the judges felt that the real value of the book was to be found in the text, with tips on how to watch and identify passerines in flight, as well as details on aspects such as flock behaviour and flight style. The author’s knowledge on the topic shines through, and there can be few birders – even the most seasoned migration watchers – who wouldn’t stand to learn at least something from this book.
4th: Multimedia Identification Guide to North Atlantic Seabirds: Shearwaters, Jouanin’s & White-Chinned Petrels by Bob Flood, Ashley Fisher and John Gale
Scilly Pelagics, 2020.
Those who have seen previous titles in the Guide to North Atlantic Seabirds series will not be surprised to see this latest offering score highly. The text, the photographs, the artwork and the accompanying video footage were all praised by the judges for being of exceptional quality, with much of the material in the book presented for the first time. This is the definitive guide for the identification of shearwaters in the North Atlantic and sets a high bar for coverage of seabirds across the world’s other oceans.
5th: The Biology of Moult in Birds by Lukas Jenni & Raffael Winkler
Helm, London, 2020.
This is an accessible, readable and complete overview of the subject of moult, and even those judges who hadn’t previously looked into the topic found themselves drawn in and wanting to read more. The judges praised the authors for bringing what is often seen as a fringe interest to the forefront and highlighting the significance of this most important physiological process to a wider audience.
6th: Human, Nature by Ian Carter
Pelagic Publishing, 2021.
The judges enjoyed the straight-talking and balanced approach taken by the author in addressing issues that others may have skirted. Ian’s personal knowledge around the complexities of many of the subjects shines through, as does his personal passion and love for the natural world. Since the book is part autobiographical, part philosophical and part practical, the judges felt that every reader would find something here that they were interested in – or something they didn’t know.
7th: Gone: a search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures by Michael Blencowe
Leaping Hare Press, 2021.
More than just tales of extinction, this title follows the author’s own journey of discovery and the judges praised the detail that the book went into, often exploring some lesser-known and therefore overlooked species – such as the Ivell’s Sea Anemone Edwardsia ivelli. Not surprisingly, the book comes with an important message, where lessons from human-driven extinctions have yet to be learnt.
8th: The Eternal Season: Ghosts of Summers Past, Present and Future by Stephen Rutt
Elliott and Thompson Ltd, London, 2021.
Stephen Rutt is no stranger to the Bird Book oy the Year shortlist, with his debut title, Seafarers, being placed sixth in 2020's competition. This engaging piece of nature writing explores our relationship with a season that is changing, and how the wildlife we know so well is adapting to the impacts of climate change.
9th: The Birds of Wales/Adar Cymru by Rhion Pritchard, Julian Hughes, Ian M. Spence, Bob Haycock, Anne Brenchley
Liverpool University Press, 2021.
A new standard reference for birds in Wales, this title is a classic country avifauna and the judges recognised its important contribution to Welsh ornithology.
10th: The Glitter in the Green by Jon Dunn
Another journey of discovery, in this title the author goes in search of hummingbirds. For those judges who have been fortunate enough to see hummingbirds, this book brought back many fond memories; while one judge who hadn’t seen a hummingbird in the flesh commented that this book ‘really brought the Natural History Museum’s famous hummingbird cabinet to life’ by putting some real-world context onto the species it contains.
11th: Seabirds: The New Identification Guide by Peter Harrison, Martin Perrow & Hans Larsson
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, 2021.
A much-anticipated follow-on to the groundbreaking 1983 original, this title remains the only single-volume field guide to cover all of the world’s seabirds. With more than 3,800 illustrations – including many by world-renowned artist Hans Larsson – covering 433 species, this title is a must-have in the library of any pelagic birder.
Stephen Menzie, Gill Birtles, Tom Cadwallender, Paul French, Hazel McCambridge and Nina O’Hanlon
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