Books on owls seem to be a bit few and far between, unless you are looking for a monograph on a particular species. For most of us, I guess that the monographs go into a level of scientific detail that is a bit more than we are looking for. I've been keeping my eyes open for owl books for more than a year now, so was pleased to find one recently that I was not aware of - 'Owls of The World' by Rob Hume, illustrated by Trevor Boyer.
Most of us, no matter where we live in the world, probably only have a handful of owl species that we can see within our own country. If you are passionate about owls, it is probably inevitable that one's thoughts occasionally turn to what species might be found in other countries. If that is the case, this is a book that could be of interest to you. This book takes us genus by genus, species by species, though all known owl species worldwide (as far as I am aware!).
For each species the book gives descriptions of the bird, its distribution, habitat, character, diet, breeding pattern, status, etc.. The levels of description are a little variable, particularly as some of the species have been little studied or are almost unknown! Where there is debate as to what are different species or just a different races of the same species this is discussed. Also, each species (with just a few exceptions - where very little is known about a species) is beautifully illustrated by Trevor Boyer. At the end of the book there are small distribution maps for each of the species.
If I have any criticisms of the book they revolve around its use as an identification guide. Inevitably, there are many similarities between some of the species, even within a single geographical range. The descriptions of the species' physical characteristics are sometimes a bit woolly and occasionally seem to be at odds with the illustrations. Given that many owls are masters at changing their appearance, it would have been nice to have more than one illustration per species. For example, with several of the Pygmy Owls, it mentions the 'false face', with eye spots on the back of the head - but this feature is not illustrated anywhere!
In all other respects, however, the information in the book is to an informative and interesting level. This book might just tempt you to travel abroad and exercise your passion elsewhere !
The book is to a large format (32 x 25.5 cm) and has 192 pages. The quality of the paper and binding seems to be to a high level. - ISBN 1-
85585- 352- 3
This book is currently out of print, but there are second-hand copies around. I was lucky to find mine at Birdfair at Rutland Water last month. It was in a charity book sale organised by the Rutland Osprey Project, and I paid the princely sum of GBP 5.00 for the book which was in absolutely mint condition! Buying it second-hand through Amazon will currently cost you between GBP 30 and GBP 60, but you might find it much cheaper elsewhere - even in a 'remainder' shop?