My sister-in-law picked up this two volume set of 'Book of Birds' from a Michigan library near her home and mailed them to me. The image above is the 1939 edition of Book of Birds by the National Geographic Society. The volume set was first printed in 1932, two years prior to Tory Peterson's book in 1934 and even then, Peterson's only covered the Eastern states.
Other books covered the New England States or Birds of California etc....So the National Geographic Society decided there was a need for a book that encompassed the entire United States so they printed this one. And the price was nominal because the cost of the prints, images etc...were assumed by the Society for many previous years so that cost was not built into the price for this two volume set.
It would be a birders dream to be transplanted back in time and land in South Jersey in 1930. Admittedly travel would be a royal pain but what you would see might astound you in 'numbers'. Although in the 30's the Audubon Society existed and membership (who promised to 'not molest birds') was strong, the commercialization and hype around 'birding' was not as intense as we have now. No 'Big Years to tout' or Christmas Counts' or maps and trails and guides, nor camera's that captures birds at 15 fps, or scopes nor binoculars. no eBird. These days were purely left up the the self-proclaimed naturalists without 'certification' or a degree. These days didn't have the ABA floating around or the politics as we see it now.
So to encounter such a treasure as this two volume set.....well, need I say more? While I am not back in time, I am.....I am reading about birding and knowledge of based upon 1932. I see prints made in the 20's and images in grainy BW. Ooo la la.....to say the least.
I have many pages to go but as I perused the book today, multiple feathered friends visited my house. One of them being the goldfinch so I decided to see what did the 1930's offer me in regards to the goldfinch?
In 1930 the Goldfinches species numbered 5, not three as we have today. Back east was the 'eastern Goldfinch'...as we have today although today we just label it as the American Goldfinch. In the 30's we have the Lawrence Goldfinch in the SW states, just as we have today. But back in the 30's we had the Pale Goldfinch in the Rockies, the Greenbacked Goldfinch in the California area and the more abundant Willow Goldfinch back west. For some reason, all of those three have been either combined to make either the Lesser Goldfinch or blend to form todays 'Eastern Goldfinch'....
I am sure the combining of Goldfinches was due to DNA, as much is today but 'yesterday' they were split up mainly due to appearance. What happened to the Pale Goldfinch? Did both the Willow and Green-backed now become the Lesser? ....not sure I am. But a curious question.
Another thing that came to mind as I skimmed thru the volumes and perhaps this is better know to others that myself. But the Peregrine Falcon was at one time called the Duck Hawk. That is a new one on me.
more to come....