Few creatures are as instantly recognizable as hummingbirds. For millennia they have served as subjects in folklore. Their images appear as icons stylized on pottery, petroglyphs, and are immortalized in the monumental geoglyphs outlined on the desert floor of the Nazca plains of Peru. Although they are only found in the New World, hummingbirds are a delight to people across the globe. Those of us lucky enough to have them visit our back yards enjoy watching them flit from flower to flower. We often place feeders to draw them closer. Many of us are willing to travel to remote places to catch a brief glimpse of these spectacular gems of the avian world.
People often do not realize that hummingbirds are the second largest family of birds with over 300 species that range throughout the Americas. With such a large and diverse group, few books have attempted to artistically showcase the family of hummingbirds in its entirety. In fact, the last significant effort was made by master bird artist John Gould during the 19th century. Almost 150 years have passed since anyone has tried to take on such a monumental task.
Many years of planning and research went into the production of this first of a two volume set. The path to completion has been slow and measured. It features 127 species of hummingbirds found in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands.
Artistic value was critical, but also was scientific accuracy. In this regard we were very fortunate to be able to call on one of the world’s premiere hummingbird researchers and artist, John P. O’Neill and noted avian biologist, John C. Arvin, to review each artistic plates for accuracy.
Each individual species has been meticulously studied and artistically rendered to showcase their beauty and splendor. They are set in a scene reflective of their range and environment. Also included is the preferred flowering plant that each species is most associated or the plant for which it serves as exclusive pollinator. Unique life history, distribution, adaptations, morphology and conservation status is noted in the text. The large format allows the luxury of space and allows departure from the bird-on-a-stick format required by the limited space in field guides.
This book has been a labor of love done entirely in-house. The world of publishing has changed dramatically in the last few years. With a creative staff and today’s new technology, it is now possible for small organizations such as ours to follow our own vision, take it directly to a printing house and distribute it to the public.
Finally, without the support and encouragement of two special individuals this book would never have been possible. For more than 25 years, Rebecca Morgan and James George with NFG Foundation stuck with us through thick and thin… through hard times when many would have given up. There were many times that completing this book seemed an impossible dream. We hope that everyone will enjoy the beauty found in Volume 1 of Hummingbirds.
Lawrence V. Lof