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A delight of owls by Peter Steyn

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Moira de Swardt
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A delight of owls by Peter Steyn

Unread post by Moira de Swardt » Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:33 am

As a 1984 review said of the original "It's a book to make you 'owl with delight!"

This is a reprint of the original 1984 edition much sought after by strigiphile ornithologists and there have been some very minor revisions including name changes for some of the birds and place names, especially in Zimbabwe.

Steyn has a very easy reading style and each owl gets its own historical narrative, in the process building some personal biography of the author as well as the biology of the birds. Steyn writes on the Barn Owl, African Grass-Owl, Marsh Owl, African Wood-Owl, Southern White-faced Scops-Owl and African Scops Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Barred Owlet, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Cape Eagle Owl, Verreux's Eagle- Owl (formerly known as the Giant Eagle Owl) and the rare Pel's Fishing Owl.

The photographs are magnificent and one is drawn into the accounts of how Steyn got to know these fascinating birds. One lives the observations of Steyn vicariously, feeling joy and grief at the fortunes and misfortunes of the birds along with the author. Having visited the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo and marvelling at their comprehensive ornithological exhibits, it is with great pleasure that I read about the close collaboration Steyn developed with this venerable institution.

Every so often one is treated to a little titbit relating to another bird. Having once hit a Lilac-breasted Roller near Crocodile Bridge, I was pleased to learn that the species "has a propensity for colliding with cars". It did make me feel a little less traumatised by having been selected for the kamikazi mission of the late lovely bird.

I particularly enjoyed Steyn's references to owls in literature, especially Shakespeare and I can recommend this book both to experienced and novice birders and to people interested in the African wild generally.

Title: A delight of owls
Sub-title: African owls observed
Author: Peter Steyn
Publishers: Jacana
Year: 1984, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-77009-740-7

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Re: A delight of owls by Peter Steyn

Unread post by Grantmissy » Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:20 pm

I have bought the re-print of this book in Kruger last month and it is indeed great. Highly recommended for those interested in owls :thumbs_up: .
“Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got.”

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