Read The History of British Birds by Derek W. Yalden Umberto Albarella Online


The History of British Birds reviews our knowledge of avifaunal history over the last 15,000 years, setting it in its wider historical and European context. The authors, one an ornithologist, the other an archaeologist, integrate a wealth of archaeological data to illuminate and enliven the story, indicating the extent to which climatic, agricultural, and social changes haThe History of British Birds reviews our knowledge of avifaunal history over the last 15,000 years, setting it in its wider historical and European context. The authors, one an ornithologist, the other an archaeologist, integrate a wealth of archaeological data to illuminate and enliven the story, indicating the extent to which climatic, agricultural, and social changes have affected the avifauna. They discuss its present balance, as well as predicting possible future changes. It is a popular misconception that bird bones are rarely preserved (compared with mammals), and cannot be reliably identified when they are found. The book explores both these contentions, armed with a database of 9,000 records of birds that have been identified on archaeolgical sites. Most are in England, but sites elsewhere in Great Britian, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Isles are included. Britain's most numerous bird is also the most widespread in the archaeological record, but some of the more charismatic species also have a rich historical pedigree. For example, we can say quite a lot about the history of the Crane, Red Kite, White-tailed Eagle and great Auk. The history of many introduced domestic species can also be illuminated. Even so, there remain uncertainties, posed by difficulties of dating or identification, the vagaries of the archaeological record or the ecological specialities of the birds themselves. These issues are highlighted, thus posing research questions for others to answer. And the commonest British bird, then and now? Buy the book and read on......

Title : The History of British Birds
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ISBN : 9780199217519
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The History of British Birds Reviews

  • Lee Broderick
    2018-10-14 23:31

    What have archaeologists ever done for us? One, perhaps slightly trite, answer that I often give is that without knowing where we've been we can't know where to go. One area of research that may surprise many people is the biogeography of Britain's birds.This books begins from a simple enough premise - a review of our knowledge of past distributions of birds in Britain - but the scope of that task is breathtaking. The authors collate information from zooarchaeological reports in every period and every part of the British Isles to map extinctions and introductions. The first chapter is a highly effective overview of avian zooarchaeology - how it works and what the potential problems consist of - and the next six chapters work through bird history (prehistory hardly seems appropriate given that they have no written history of their own!) chronologically: first birds through the Palaeolithic; Mesolithic; Neolithic & Bronze Age; Iron Age & Roman; Mediaeval; Post-Mediaeval. In the later chapters other lines of evidence are drawn in (place names, bestiaries and literature) but for the most part this is a history of birds in Britain as told through their physical remains. One or two surprises are contained in this passage which should, but probably won't, lay to rest dearly held (but false) beliefs abut our avian heritage. The potential for bird remains to tell us about changes in human society and, above all, changes in the landscape, are also explored fully.The final chapter draws this together in a way which looks to the future - how might things change and what can (or should) we do about it. I'm not a fan of this approach in many history books but here it works: for the simple reason that the primary aim here is not the recording of history but of its application; learning lessons from it which can inform modern-day sensibilities and conservation efforts. This is the chapter which will probably be of most interest to conservationists whilst ecologists and ornithologists (perhaps amateur as well as professional?) may look to the meat of the main chapters. For the practising zooarchaeologist though, the book's main attraction is its appendix - a list of archaeological records according to period and species for all the British birds (as published up to 2007).It might be a slightly dry text in places, with numerous lists, but that is perhaps to be expected and the book cannot be faulted for its content. One can only hope that its impact should prove to be equally as effective.

  • dragonhelmuk
    2018-10-08 00:28

    Kindled for £20! (but supposed to be important for essay, even when it wasn't. Interestingish book, telling the archaeological story of the birds in Britain from the Pliocene to the late medieval period. There are small sections on each of the domestic birds and most common ones.{Eagle owl native, but gone by Early iron age}Eagle Owl is not now present in Britain; rather, it is, just one or two pairs, as a consequence of recent escapes, and most birders regard this as a dangerous introduction of a non-native species that should be discouraged (e.g. Mead, 2000). All the evidence is to the contrary. As a large predator, it is never likely to have been especially common, but there is a trickle of records of Eagle Owls through the Pleistocene and into Mesolithic and perhaps Iron Age times (Table 3.2). The Iron Age specimen is a broken ulna, and its identification is uncertain, but the unmistakable tarsometatarsus from Mesolithic Demen's Dale leaves no doubt about identity (Stewart, 2007b).{Swan a native!}In fact, Ticehurst (1957), reviewing the Medieval documentation, concluded that it was already well established in Britain by 1200, and that it must have been a native. This is made quite clear from the archaeological record: Mute Swans have been present in Britain for a long time. There is a continuous scatter of records all the way from Late Glacial, Mesolithic, and Neolithic times, through Roman to Medieval and Post-medieval.{Cranes and herons separate}Many placename accounts, including Mills (2003), refer assiduously to `crane, or heron' places. These imply that our Anglo-Saxon forbears did not know the difference between the two species. But they clearly did, equating their cran with the Latin grus, and their hragra with the Latin ardea. In the much later illustrated manuscripts, again, the difference between the two was also very clear. This is particularly evident in the Sherborne Missal (Yapp, 1982b; Backhouse, 2001), probably illustrated in Dorset around 1400, which identifies a heyrun, a long-legged grey bird with a whispy crest, and twice illustrates (though does not name) the Crane with its characteristic `bustle' of secondary feathers and a red nape patch.{The problem of the shortage of bird biomass}the 155 million birds must contribute a biomass of at least 310,000 metric tonnes, outweighing by 13 times all the wild birds put together. This disproportion is not quite so great as for mammals, where the domestic ungulates contribute a biomass some 21.5 times greater than all the wild mammals, alien and native (Yalden, 2003).…On that basis, a 200 g bird predator, such as the Kestrel, should be at least as numerous as the similar-sized Stoat; instead they are believed to number about 100,000 and 460,000 respectively.…{perhaps explained by lack of biodiversity?}loss of Lynx, Wolf, Brown Bear, Root Vole, Beaver, Elk, Wild Boar, and Beaver makes much more of an ecological gap in the mammal fauna than does loss of Kentish Plover, Black Tern, Hazel Hen, Pygmy Cormorant, Great Auk, Spoonbill, Eagle Owl, White Stork, Great Bustard, and Dalmatian Pelican from the bird fauna (Greenwood et at., 1996; Yalden, 1999).