The Birds of Tunisia

Adoption Amount: $750
Category: Preserve for the Future
Location: National Museum of Natural History Library

The birds of Tunisia; being a history of the birds found in the regency of Tunis, Vol. 2

By Joseph Isaac Spadafora Whitaker. London: R.H. Porter, 1905.

Joseph Whitaker (1850-1932) was a British naturalist, outdoor sportsman, author, and collector. He amassed much of his extensive collection of wildlife, especially birds, by shooting and stuffing them. His writings, though primarily about birds, reflect his interest in the many aspects of appreciating the natural world. This two-volume work was meant to fill a void in English-language ornithology about the regions in and around Tunisia. In the introduction, the author describes four different geographical areas, mentions some political and cultural issues that affect the study of nature in northern Africa, and prepares the reader for the organizing principles used in his text.Both volumes cover characteristics of 365 species, many of which are represented in Mr. Whitaker’s own specimen collection.

Tunisia, having a variety of habitats and being on the flight path for much seasonal migration, is a great location for ornithologists and birders. Organized taxonomically, the descriptions of each species include details of size, color, plumage, and behavior. But these volumes are also rich with the author’s generous descriptions, personal observations, and historical perspective on the study of each species. There are fine color plates (rendered by H. Gronvold) on several of the birds in their natural habitat.

Condition and Treatment: 

This is an early-20th century volume half bound in green leather and green bookcloth. The boards are detached and the spine attached only to the front board. The textblock is mostly intact with the first few pages detaching in the gutter.  Conservators will repair the detaching pages. The spine will be cleaned and relined and the case repaired. The textblock will then be recased in the original spine.

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