4 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Sadly I must admit I have never seen a hummingbird except on the pages of a book or on a screen of some form. They are a bird that can only be found in the Americas and I haven’t been there! They are quite amazing little birds though. They have evolved exclusively to feed on the nectar of flowers and each species has found and exploited a particular niche that suits them.
They have an incredibly high metabolic rate and have to feed a lot during a day just to survive. They are tiny birds too, the largest is only nine inches long, but only weighs 24g! The smallest is the bee hummingbird and is a mere two inches long and only weighs 2g. Their name comes from the noise that the wings make as they hover in front of the flowers flapping them at up to 88 beats a second. There are well over 300 of these amazing little subspecies of birds.
As with a lot of creatures at the moment, they are poised on a knife-edge of survival, mostly caused by us again, with habitat destruction being one of the key reasons. The wildlife photographer, Jon Dun wanted to make sure that he could get to see them before they disappeared for good.
His travels around America will take him from the jungles of South America right up to Alaska, yes, there are even hummingbirds there. He goes looking for the Violet-crowned Hummingbird in Arizona, for the smallest hummingbird in Cuba and uncovers the link between these brightly colour birds and 007. He explores how the feather trade impacted them and chases Coquettes in Brazil and Bolivia.
I must say that I really liked this. Jon is a thoughtful and enthusiastic writer who is passionate about his tiny avian subjects. I liked the blend of travel, natural history as well as some of the historical stories of hummingbirds. Some of the places that he ends up in the pursuit of particular species are pretty dangerous! Dunn is a photographer after all, so the colour photos make this book too, so I wouldn’t expect anything less to be honest. Perhaps one day I will get to see one of the amazing and utterly beautiful creatures, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.