Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World
EUGENE M. McCARTHY
Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World attempts to list all avian crosses reported in the scientific literature and/or on the Internet (the vast majority of the documentation is of the former type). Quite a few personal communications are also
included. It is the broadest survey of its kind to date, listing not only crosses occurring under natural conditions, but also those obtained in captivity. No general reference on this subject has been published in English since 1958 (A. P. Gray’s Bird Hybrids). Since that time, interest in avian hybridization has been steadily rising, especially with regard to the fields of taxonomy, conservation, and evolutionary biology. In recent years, reports of hybrids have been far more frequent than in the past (Randler 1998). The increase is probably due to a large rise in the number of field observers, better optical equipment, and an enhanced awareness of the existence of avian hybrids. Unusual hybrids are now often prominently featured in birding magazines and are puzzled over by birders in chat rooms on the Internet.
Gray’s book continues to be cited, but mostly for lack of anything more up-to-date. There has been a need for a new reference that takes into account the last half century of data. Moreover, although often cited by academics, Gray’s book has a decidedly utilitarian perspective, slanted toward the concerns of the breeder rather than the professional biologist. A more recent work on the topic, written for biologists rather than breeders, is E. N. Panov’s Natural Hybridization and Ethological Isolation in Birds (1989). It is also widely cited, but is still 17 years out of date,
written in Russian, and covers only natural hybrids. Data on hybrids produced in captivity can also be important to naturalists. Crosses produced in aviaries often allow identification of specimens obtained in the wild. This book represents an effort to fill these gaps in the literature.
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