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For those interested in the subject but not prepared to hand over such sums, OUP have recently issued a second, entirely reworked edition of Errol Fuller’s book of the same title. A fascinating read that is prolifically and beautifully illustrated from archival sources – including plates and old photographs – or, where no appropriate illustration exists, from specially commissioned portraits, it is a stunning production.

Since 1600, some 80 species have become extinct – though since the book first appeared in 1987, Jerdon’s Courser and the Four Coloured Flowerpecker have actually been rediscovered – and the stories of these birds are grouped within broad categories, from the Ratites, giants who included the Moa or Lesser Megalapteryx, pictured (the dust jacket reproduction of G.E. Lodge’s oil painting for the old Rothschild book) to Hypothetical & Mystery Birds. Somewhere in between, we meet the pigeons – among them the Dodo, and Martha, who in 1914 was living in a cage in Cincinnati zoo, last of the Passenger Pigeons. Once the most numerous bird on earth, they had been wiped out by hunters in less than a century.