Best Bird Book of the Year 2022
I am glad to see such an inspiring and varied selection of books on the finalists' list. As a judge, I was lucky to have the opportunity to discuss these books and their far-reaching ornithological impacts, as well as how much we quite simply enjoyed them. There is something to learn from every book on this list, and certainly something for every type of reader. Personally, I am looking forward to learning how to draw passerines!Hazel McCambridge, BTO Judge
The prestigious Best Bird Book of the Year award is open to all books reviewed by BTO and British Birds in the year of consideration. Entries range from identification guides and ornithological science to culture and art, and are judged by a diverse panel from BTO and British Birds.
This year, Hazel McCambridge, Maria Farooqi and Jenna Woodford represented BTO on the judging panel, while Paul French, Sarah Harris and Stephen Menzie represented British Birds.
An initial vote from each of the judges determined the shortlist. The final vote took place in mid December, with the usual lively discussion and debate between the judges before they cast their votes to determine the winning title.
- The following is a list of all books that received at least one vote from the judges in the final round of voting, ordered by the total number of points received.
Winner: Low Carbon Birding
Editor: Javier Caletrío
There is no doubt that Low Carbon Birding will have a substantial impact on the world of ornithology. The positive stories and practical inspiration for how individual birders can reduce their carbon footprint while engaging in their hobby make this a readable and meaningful title, and the panel felt that this was one of the most important books about birding published in the last 12 months. Accordingly, the title was awarded points from all six of the judges.
"A wonderfully diverse collection of first-hand views and experiences of low-carbon birding that encourages all of us to rethink how we value and engage with the world around us."
—Professor Juliet Vickery, CEO British Trust for Ornithology
Reviewed in British Birds by Stephen Menzie (British Birds 115: 745).
Pelagic Publishing, 2022
2nd: Vagrancy in Birds
Authors: Alexander Lees and James Gilroy
This book about vagrancy - a potentially dense and academic subject - offers something for all birders and ornithologists, from birdwatchers and rarity seekers to conservationists studying habitat loss. As a result of its wide appeal, the judges recognised this title as one of the most useful titles of 2022.
The judges were particularly impressed by the way Vagrancy in Birds presents theories and observations in an easily accessible way. They also felt that the title communicates the importance of vagrancy to a range of ornithological phenomena, from the formation of new migration routes to speciation. An impressive amount of research is included in the family-by-family section, covering extralimital species records, and theories and observations about vagrancy in the given family.
Also reviewed in British Birds by Stephen Menzie (British Birds 115: 745).
3rd: Gulls of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East: An Identification Guide
Authors: Peter Adriaens, Mars Muusse, Philippe J. Dubois and Frédéric Jiguet
The very thought of a book on gulls is enough to send some folk running – so the judges were pleased to see that this guide offered a straightforward approach to gull identification.
Gulls of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East bucks the trend of gull identification guides in excluding birds from North America and East Asia; however, by focusing on just the species recorded in the wider Western Palearctic, the title brings a degree of manageability to what is potentially a very tricky subject.
The panel felt that Gulls of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East would make a good first guide for those new to ‘gulling’, as well as providing an expert reference for those who have been dedicated birders for decades.
- Read BTO's review of Gulls of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East: an identification guide by Fionnuala McCully
Also reviewed in British Birds by Brian Small (British Birds 115: 177-178).
Princeton University Press, 2021
4th: Bho Bheul an Eòin / From the Bird’s Mouth
Author: Derek Robertson
Central to this book is the author's celebration of language, culture and heritage. Bho Bheul an Eòin / From the Bird’s Mouth aims to give Scottish- Gaelic names to species that currently lack them: recently recognised species, such as the Scottish Crossbill Loxia scotica; recent colonists and increasingly frequent vagrants, such as the European Bee-eater Merops apiaster; and introduced species, such as the Red-necked Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus. However, the book is also a beautiful piece of nature writing, complete with artwork and poetry, making it a rich homage to the Gaelic linguistic tradition.
Woodlands Studios, 2022
5th: How to Draw Birds of the Passerine Order
Author: Kirsty ‘CrowArtist’ Yeomans
This delightful book demonstrates great skill in showing the reader how to create realistic artwork. However, it really caught the judges' eyes because it pays particular attention to the anatomy and structure of the birds it illustrates. The panel felt there is much to learn from this title, including a wealth of instruction, such as detail about the segments and joints of the feet, the aerofoil of the wing and the various feather tracts. A useful companion for a bird illustrator, it will also prove an invaluable guide for anyone keen to begin drawing birds in their fieldnotes.
Reviewed in British Birds by Alan Harris (British Birds 115: 113).
Crow Artist, 2020
6th: Habitats of the World: a field guide for birders, naturalists and ecologists
Authors: Iain D. Campbell, Ken Behrens, Charley Hesse and Phil Chaon
The judges valued this title for its birder-orientated approach to habitats, making the topic accessible and engaging even to those among the panel who admitted they had not given it much thought previously!
With concise but informative text and easy-to-understand diagrams, Habitats of the World offers birders and naturalists the opportunity to learn more about the landscapes they find themselves in, both at home and abroad.
Reviewed in British Birds by Stephen Menzie (British Birds 115: 537-538).
Princeton University Press, 2021
7th: Birds of Buckton
Author: Mark Thomas
The narrow geographical scope of the book (a clifftop local patch in Yorkshire) enhances rather than detracts from the author's dedication and passion.
Birds of Buckton includes an extensive introduction to the area, as well as a systematic list that provides details of all of the species recorded at Buckton in the last five decades. Accompanying this treasure trove of information is an abundance of photographs and artwork. This is a book for any ‘local patchers’, as well as those with an interest in local records.
Reviewed in British Birds by Kieran Lawrence (British Birds 115: 744).
Privately published, 2020
8th: Wild Fell
Author: Lee Schofield
Wild Fell is the story of conservation and rewilding from the inside, detailing the author's journey through managing a nature reserve in the Lake District.
At a time when rewilding and wildlife-friendly land management are rising in the public consciousness, the judges felt that this book offers a nuanced view and does not shy away from its subject's complexities. As a result, the title will be a rewarding read for many, from wildlife-sympathetic individuals to on-the-ground conservationists.
Reviewed in British Birds by Ian Carter (British Birds 115: 414-415).
9th: Europe's Birds: an identification guide
Author: Andy Swash, Rob Hume, Hugh Harrop and Robert Still
Another release in the highly popular WILDGuides series, this title takes the approach of its predecessor Britain’s Birds but expands its cover across Europe. The panel felt that considerable work has gone into selecting a wide range of images, so that variation in plumage and different postures are shown clearly for each species.
Photo guides are not everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no doubt that this is one of the most complete and well-researched out there.
Also reviewed in British Birds by Chris Kehoe (British Birds 115: 55-56).
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