A Guide to the Rails, Crakes, Gallinules and Coots of the World

Barry Taylor; Illustrated by Ber van Perlo

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Price: $65.00
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Rarely seen and poorly known, rails can be found throughout the world, absent only from polar regions, completely waterless deserts, and mountains above the snow line. This secretive and intriguing family of birds occupies a diverse range of habitats, from forests to wetlands, grasslands, and even scrub-covered remote oceanic islands and coral cays. Barry Taylor and Ber van Perlo have described and illustrated 145 species of rails, including two that have only recently been described and eleven that are recently extinct.

The book, based on up-to-date references and on new observations, is the first to give comprehensive information on field identification (including voice), covering all species and races for which details are known. It is also the first to provide descriptions of the immature and juvenile plumages of many species. The authors provide a detailed summary of current knowledge of all aspects of rail biology and their often complex behavior, social structure, and family life. They explain how such apparently poorly flying birds can undertake intercontinental migrations and are such widespread and successful colonists of remote oceanic islands. They also discuss the remarkable ease and speed with which species on such islands have evolved into flightless forms in the absence of predators, a fact that has led to the rapid extinction of numerous island taxa following the arrival of humans. Rail habitats are fast disappearing, say the authors, and many rails become endangered before enough is known about them to plan effective conservation measures. The book provides information on distribution, status, habitat requirements, and current threats, and it gives conservation priorities for threatened species.

Published in association with Christopher Helm/A & C Black

Barry Taylor has written numerous scientific papers and other articles on rails and other birds. He is currently involved in conservation-orientated wetland and grassland research and survey work in Africa and in studies on the creation and management of wetlands for birds. Ber van Perlo has been a geographer and physical planner and now writes and illustrates books about birds, such as the Collins Ilustrated Checklist: Birds of Eastern Africa.

“Among the many family-level bird books that appeared in the 1990s, this is one of the best. Barry Taylor’s encyclopedic knowledge of rails leaps from every page of this carefully researched book. . . . Packs more good information than any mortal could ever absorb. . . . Rails is a book that will never be far from my reach. Barry Taylor has set a very high standard for future family-level bird books.”—David W. Steadman, Auk

"This book is characterized by textual accuracy, uniformly high quality color illustrations, and thorough range maps. . . . The color paintings are large, well produced, and very useful for identification. . . . The book ranks as one of the best of the series. All libraries should have the entire series."—Choice

"This latest book in Yale’s collection on bird families sheds a great amount of light on rail identification, biology, ecology, evolution, and conservation status. . . . The species descriptions are quite comprehensive and the introductory material is excellent. . . . Very highly recommended."—Wildlife Activist

"This book is based on up-to-date references and on new observations, and is the first to give comprehensive information on field identification (including voice), covering all species and races for which details are known. . . . An excellent work on this interesting group and should be in the library of every interested birder and naturalist."—Charles E. Keller, Indiana Audubon Quarterly

“This will now be the source book on rails, and it is packed with fascinating and useful information on this little-known group.”—Clive E. Goodwin, Canadian Field-Naturalist

“An unequaled reference book for anyone interested in these unusual birds.”—Northeastern Naturalist

Winner of the 1999 University Book Prize given by the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa
ISBN: 9780300077582
Publication Date: September 10, 1998
Publishing Partner: Published in association with Christopher Helm/A & C Black
600 pages, 6 7/8 x 9 1/2
40 color illus.