National Geographic’s ‘The Splendor of Birds’ Is Simply Breathtaking [REVIEW]

Blue-Footed Booby

The blue-footed booby is only one of the many birds featured in National Geographic’s The Splendor of Birds. (Photo courtesy National Geographic)

Birds. There is something truly special about these creatures that captures the imaginations of all of us. Whether we’re feeding ducks at a park or hummingbirds nectar outside our window, watching predatory hawks soar high in the sky or an ominous flock of grackles loom overhead on power lines like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock film, or laughing at the antics of waddling penguins and precariously poised flamingoes, these winged animals are everywhere and yet each is stunning in its own way. Over the years, National Geographic has shared our fascination with them, and now they are revealing all their hard-won wisdom and stellar photographs and artistry in one incomparable volume, The Splendor of Birds: Art and Photographs from National Geographic. 

Owl in flight

Majestic, haunting and wise, owls have captured our imaginations for centuries. (Photo courtesy National Geographic)

This volume is as epic as the bird family. Scouring the National Geographic archives, researchers have put together an elegant collection of unforgettable art and awe-inspiring photography your family will love to peruse. Whether they are avid bird watchers, nature lovers, or art aficionados, they will be mesmerized by the visual feast of color, form, and behavior of the winged world chronicled as only National Geographic could do. One of my favorite parts of this book is that it is outlined chronologically, so readers can see firsthand how our knowledge has grown, and how Nat Geo played a huge part in gathering all the data we now know about these animals. So in the beginning of the book, you’ll find vintage drawings and sepia or black and white photography. But as you turn each page, you’re going to take a 130 year journey through time, seeing how art and photography improved with each passing decade, until we arrived at the state-of-the-art high-speed and telephoto camera shots now used which capture sights unseen by the human eye.

Parrot under water

Vintage photographs show how birds have been active parts of our lives in years past. (Photo courtesy National Geographic)

Also, as mentioned at the outset, the photographs here showcase birds in all their glory, from our favorite native songbirds outside the kitchen window to the complex and animated courtship dances of birds of paradise, sweet moments caught inside a tern’s nest, and the lightning-fast flash of hummingbirds in flight. It is all here, captured by some of the world’s best photographers, including Chris Johns, Frans Lanting, Joel Sartore, and Tim Laman. Additionally, passages written by our most influential scientists and explorers provide added insight into the wonderful world of birds, including notes by Arthur A. Allen, Roger Tory Peterson, Douglas Chadwick, Jane Goodall, and others.


In this epic image from 1909, dovekies can be seen bobbing on the water off Greenland’s frigid coast. (Photo from Underwood and Underwood, courtesy National Geographic)

Every home should own a copy of The Splendor of Birds. It is the kind of book which ties us to nature, even if we are unable to travel the globe on our own. And that is what Nat Geo has done from the beginning. They make armchair travel simple, teach us that there is so much to discover on our tiny planet, and prove time and again why our environment and our wildlife are worth preserving. This is a book which spurs imaginations, ignites a passion for birdwatching and preservation, and may even serve as the catalyst that turns today’s youth into the scientists, explorers and photographers of tomorrow. Whether it is on your coffee table as a constant reminder of all that is beautiful and unique about birds, or used as a tool to educate children and act as a reference work for college students, The Splendor of Birds is a book we all need now and it reminds us once and for all why National Geographic is one of the most important organizations at work today.

National Geographic's THE SPLENDOR OF BIRDS

National Geographic


One of the world’s leading nonfiction publishers, National Geographic Books has published more than 1,700 titles, featuring such categories as history, travel, nature, photography, space, science, health, biography, and memoir. A portion of its proceeds is used to fund exploration, conservation, and education through ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society.

A former National Geographic staff member, Catherine Herbert Howell has written more than a dozen books and contributed to dozens of others, including the landmark first edition of National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, now the best-selling birding guide in North America. She also authored National Geographic’s Birdwatchers’ Bible and Illustrated Guide to Wildlife. Howell lives in Arlington, Virginia, where she tends the native plants of her certified wildlife habitat and volunteers with the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists.

Dr. Jonathan Baillie is Chief Scientist of the National Geographic Society and Senior Vice President of grants, directing funding in the areas of science and exploration. Baillie was the director of conservation programs at the Zoological Society of London, where he was responsible for projects focusing on endangered species and their habitats in more than 50 countries. He is co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) National Red List Working Group and a visiting professor of zoology at the University of Oxford. An enthusiastic bird lover, Baillie does extensive fieldwork including monitoring rare endemic birds in the Gulf of Guinea.

By National Geographic
512 pgs. National Geographic. $75.

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase The Splendor of Birds at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and National Geographic.

The Splendor of Birds is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

5 Responses to National Geographic’s ‘The Splendor of Birds’ Is Simply Breathtaking [REVIEW]

  1. trish says:

    The owl photos have me mesmerized!

  2. That parrot in the submarine is such an odd thing to see! Thanks for being on the tour for this gorgeous book!

  3. Pingback: National Geographic's The Splendor of Birds, on tour October/November 2018 | TLC Book Tours

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