Hen Day: A Story of 24 Hours and 24 Avian Lives–A Ebook Assessment

Hen Day is a beautiful, little jewel of a e-book. The thought is to painting one fowl for every hour of the day in phrases and artwork, presenting the variety, magnificence, and marvel of avian life. The partnership of its creators, ornithologist Mark E. Hauber and artist Tony Angell fulfills this purpose fantastically and was the issue that motivated me to overview this e-book. Angell’s black-and-white illustrations carry sparks of power and visible readability to the fascinating fowl behaviors described by Huber. Every ingredient is excellent by itself, collectively they make a magical argument for valuing birds and studying extra about them.

The scope is worldwide; of the 24 birds depicted, 5 are from the Americas; 5 from Eurasia; three from New Zealand; two from Australasia; three from Africa; one from Africa and Asia; one from Antarctica; two worldwide, and two from Asia, launched worldwide. There may be additionally range in sort of species, which I believe you want if you’ll painting birds in a 24-hour cycle; they vary from water fowl (Frequent Pochard) to Galliformes (Indian Peafowl) to seabird (Prepare dinner’s Petrel) to parrots (Eclectus Parrot) to raptors (Bat Hawk) to a few of our favourite passerines (American Robin and European Robin). And there’s range in charisma–few individuals can resist an Emperor Penguin or a Secretary Hen, however widespread birds like Indian Myna and Black-crowned Night time Heron additionally get their due respect.

© 2023 Tony Angell; © 2023 Mark E. Hauber

Hauber’s mini-essays give attention to particular behaviors, enhanced by references to latest analysis but written in a relaxed, private method. Every chapter begins with the fowl’s actions at that hour of the day–a Barn Owl is searching at midnight; a feminine Brown-headed Cowbird is secretly laying her egg in one other species’ nest at dawn; an Ocellated Antbird is devouring bugs fleeing from a swarm of military ants at midday; a male Normal-winged Nightjar is courting females in flight whereas additionally feeding on flying bugs at sundown. The scope rapidly widens to questions all of us have when observing birds feeding, courting, nesting, flying– the why and the way of it–and doable solutions provided by scientific analysis and concept. Hauber is absolutely good at presenting scientific findings in order that they don’t appear scientific in any respect, merely affordable solutions to our questions. He’s notably adept at explaining obligate brood parasitism, a topic he has researched extensively, for each birds that observe it (Brown-headed Cowbird at 5:00am, Frequent Cuckoo at 4:00pm) and host birds (American Robin at 8:00am). The essays additionally contact on conservation, although much less that the quantity I might have assumed can be in a e-book that’s a part of an “Earth Day” collection.

The alternatives seem to largely mirror Hauber’s private experiences around the globe and he does sometimes carry himself into the essay, reflecting on a European Robin he observes at nightfall in northwestern Germany or trying to find American Robin nests on a tree farm within the Midwestern United States. Mark Hauber is at present (simply appointed!) government director of the Superior Science Analysis Middle of the Metropolis College of New York, former Harley Jones Van Cleave Professor of Host-Parasite Interactions on the College of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Faculty of Integrative Biology, former professor and administrator at CUNY, and former editor of The Auk: Ornithological Advances (now known as Ornithology). He has written and co-written over 400 scientific papers on brood parasitism, Frequent Cuckoos, egg rejection and different nesting behaviors, and fairy wren studying along with The Ebook of Eggs: A Life-Dimension Information to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World’s Hen Species (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2014).  He has hung out learning and educating in New Zealand and extra not too long ago in Germany, which explains among the fowl selections on this e-book. I do want he had included Fairywrens!

Tony Angell is considered one of my favourite fowl artists. He’s additionally a sculptor and a naturalist and has mixed his observations together with his artwork in previous titles, notably Home of Owls (2015), Within the Firm of Crows and Ravens (2005), and Marine Birds and Mammals of Puget Sound (1982). Angell works in black-and-white, utilizing, from what I can inform and browse, the scratchboard technique, a type of engraving which entails carving strains out of darkish ink to disclose a lighter layer beneath. The result’s paintings that’s exact but dreamy, echoing a historical past of scientific illustration that relied on drawing and etching whereas additionally conveying the immediacy of the fowl’s presence as seen and imaged by the artist and the author.

Angell’s black-and-white methodology works nicely for crows, ravens and owls, his chosen topics, and it additionally surprisingly nicely for extra colourful birds, even Indian Peafowl. The restricted palette permits the illustrations to echo the time of day of every chapter and habitat of every fowl. The Barn Owl sweeps down in darkness at midnight, moonlight illuminated his wings and face. The Ocellated Antbird is proven within the firm of a tropical butterfly and grasshopper and different, smaller neotropical followers of military ants, the midday gentle peering by means of vines however not reaching the darkness of the rainforest foliage-filled flooring. The sunshine is way brighter for the Very good Starlings at 3:00pm in Africa; the excessive ratio of white and light-gray house tells us that the solar is hitting their massive, domed nest (“Their feathers shine particularly vivid within the afternoon solar already beginning to set,” web page 85), and though we will’t see the famously vivid plumage, we see the distinction in shading and know that they have to be as spectacular because the textual content guarantees.

Black-and-white additionally permits Angell to play with design and form. Emperor Penguins march in diagonals down the ice subject at 2:00pm, virtually like an Escher drawing apart from that one completely satisfied Penguin on the backside, sliding with glee. Oilbirds roost of their cave, forming a puzzle of shapes (see above). The Secretary Hen capturing a snake an hour earlier in Africa fills the body with its nice wings, rear plumes, eerie face, and lengthy, scale-covered toes. That is my favourite illustration. After seeing Secretary Birds in actual life enticingly faraway, it’s fantastic to see one depicted close-up in all its horny ferocity, stomping the snake to dying (and seemingly having fun with the stomping rather a lot), as described within the essay. Angell’s genius lies to find the avian drama in Hauber’s essays with out shedding the detailed magnificence of every fowl’s plumage and anatomy.

For readers who wish to be taught extra concerning the concepts Hauber sketches out–obligate brood parasite, evolutionary achieve, evolutionary growth of different senses, heterospecific eavesdropping, to call some–there’s a “Additional Studying” part at the back of the e-book, itemizing 5 glorious common fowl books and “related peer-reviewed papers” by chapter. There may be additionally an index, which I’m very completely satisfied to see, although it might use proofreading. Personally, I’m so completely satisfied that the authors and writer perceive the significance of each this stuff!

Hen Day: A Story of 24 Hours and 24 Avian Lives is a e-book that may be learn by anybody. Individuals not very serious about birds will, I hope, discover that they’re greater than creatures who fly and construct nests; starting naturalists will discover a lot wealthy materials to digest, and extra skilled birders will benefit from the paintings and, I believe, discover info nuggets which can be intriguing. The e-book is listed within the College of Chicago Press as the primary in an “Earth Day” collection, described as a collection of brief books providing “twenty-four chapters, comparable to twenty-four hour-long home windows to witness the variety of life.” I’m assuming that the collection seeks to raise individuals’s consciousness of the risks introduced by trendy life and local weather change and encourage conservation and environmental safety, the entire function of Earth Day on April twenty second. Certainly, Hauber does make this plea in his concluding chapter. I’m curious what type of life might be introduced subsequent within the collection.


Hen Day: A Story of 24 Hours and 24 Avian Lives
by Mark E. Hauber; Illustrated by Tony Angell
College of Chicago Press, Dec. 2023
168 pages; 24 halftones; measurement: 4-3/4 x 6 inches
$18.00; additionally accessible in PDF and eBook codecs

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