Friday, December 7, 2012

Bird books for all

The Internet Archive is a gold mine and one that places few barriers to its access. One of the things that aids it is the orphan works clause in American Copyright law. Copyright is meant to protect the publisher and author by ensuring their right to earn by controlling the creation of copies. When the authors or publishers vanish and when earnings are no longer made, their works become unavailable except to those holding old copies. In a country like India where preservation of heritage takes a back-seat, it is unfortunate that the situation is aggravated by the lack of a citizen-oriented spirit in the Copyright Act. Based on the archaic Crown Copyright (although the UK government has since made massive strides in modernizing its law - see especially http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/uk-gov-licensing-framework.htm), it makes even government and tax-payer funded work inaccessible to citizens for the most part. Even the RTI Act (2005), which has a clause that in spirit suggests that copies of requested information be made at the lowest possible cost seems to contradict the Copyright Act. Indian archives are usually dependent on making access costly so as to survive and this makes them especially unusable by local and independent researchers. The idea of pro-actively making archival material digitally and universally accessible is either unknown or despised, and most archives are overseen by a bureaucratic system and manned by Internet illiterate staff who are often entirely oblivious of their holdings or their value. The Internet Archive however offers hope by empowering all to self-archive material, reducing the costs and thereby making it possible to provide free access.

Searchability currently limited

The Internet Archive makes material that is not born digital into searchable and accessible text through its OCR (although that is technologically restricted to English and languages that use a Latin script). It does not have an infrastructure for the public to transliterate or transcribe material into searchable text. Google search sadly does not do a great job of searching material here unless one explicitly uses the "site:archive.org" command into the search box. Google Images would be enormously richer if it could harvest the page images, and make them searchable via text near them (using OCR).

Breaking a tradition of access limitation, discrimination and denial

A princely pursuit
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The study of birds (and the environment in general) has largely been an elite pursuit. Victorian natural history was the pursuit of gentleman who had leisure, the space to hold books and specimens and the money to get them and pursue travel. The situation has not changed significantly. Denying access to information was of course the norm in the functioning of all Indian government bodies until very recent times and continues to leave much to desire in terms of dedication to serve citizens. Some ancient (and archaic) Indian organizations such as the Bombay Natural History Society which were founded by enlightened spirits for the very purpose of sharing information now have little to share with the general public, who in the meantime have self-organized into numerous email and Internet discussion groups that bubble with activity.  Ironically, the BNHS periodically highlights an anecdote on a little Indian boy who became an ornithologist simply because its doors were opened to him by an English curator! Their membership was formerly made up mainly of English gentleman and local feudal lords. The need to belong to an elite in-group of course stands contrary to the egalitarian basis of science. Although the MoEF funds some of the activities of this private club, there are arguably worse organizations such as the entirely tax-payer funded Zoological Survey of India and Botanical Survey of India. These organizations are not only closed to  public scrutiny but keep their outputs (books and journals) well out of the reach of citizens. That, however may be a good idea when it includes such gems as "...the movement of Hill Myna is purely gastronomical..." (Annual Report of the ZSI 2012). Ordinary citizens are increasingly more enlightened than the staff of these organizations, and have access to systems like the Internet Archive and Wikipedia. (See my earlier post on how anyone can contribute to public knowledge by archiving their holdings by scanning them and uploading to the Internet Archive)

This post is just a catalogue of freely available ornithological works of relevance on the Internet Archive and a few other digital libraries that I have been using for several years now. I however continue to be surprised by people who forward me links or are unaware of these works, some of which are actually the result of my own doing! While some of the better works are contributed by the BHL and accessible also from the Biodiversity Heritage Library website, the Internet Archive website tends to be faster and has the additional advantage of having a search option (limited by the OCR quality) within the online book reader. Hopefully this list will aid more researchers who may lack access although many of these works have been long possessed by book collectors and others who while often lacking research skills tend to value the physical form more than its content. The Internet Archive also supports the conversion of books into formats suitable for digital book-readers/tablets. To find other formats substitute the "stream" in the URL to "details" - for example if the URL shown is http://archive.org/stream/manualofgamebird01oaterich#page/n5/mode/2up use http://archive.org/details/manualofgamebird01oaterich to find other formats or to download. Some of these books have been uploaded by me or moved from unusable websites like the Digital Library of India. An ulterior motive here is to aid me (and anyone else interested) in editing Wikipedia with proper citations for which the referencing templates are appended.

Bird books specific to the Indian region

Ali, Salim & S. Dillon Ripley (1987) Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan together with those of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press. Delhi.

The Fauna of British India is a classic and the first edition is still a source for detailed feather descriptions which are often lacking in detail in later works. The subspecies concept did not exist then and all taxa were treated as species.
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 1|author=Oates, Eugene W.|year= 1889|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url= http://archive.org/stream/birdsindia01oaterich#page/n3/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 2|editor=Blanford, W.T.|year= 1890|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/birdsindia02oaterich#page/n3/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 3|author=Blanford, W.T.|year= 1895|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/birdsindia03oaterich#page/n3/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 4|author=Blanford, W.T.|year= 1898|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/birdsindia04oaterich#page/n3/mode/2up}}</ref>

The second edition of the Fauna, or "New Fauna" introduced changes in taxonomy including the use of  trinomials. It however dropped out a great deal of plumage description.
Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6, Volume 7, Volume 8
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 1|edition=2|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart|year= 1922|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/birds01bakeiala#page/n3/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 2|edition=2|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart|year= 1924|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/BakerFbiBirds2/bakerFBI2#page/n1/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 3|edition=2|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart|year= 1926|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/BakerFbiBirds3/BakerFBI3#page/n0/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 4|edition=2|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart|year= 1927|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/BakerFbiBirds4/BakerFBI4#page/n0/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 5|edition=2|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart|year= 1928|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/BakerFbiBirds5/BakerFBI5#page/n3/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 5|edition=2|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart|year= 1929|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/BakerFbiBirds6/BakerFBI6#page/n1/mode/2up}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 7|edition=2|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart|year= 1930|publisher=Taylor and Francis|place=London|pages= |url=http://archive.org/stream/BakerFbiBirds7/BakerFBI7#page/n0/mode/2up}}</ref>

Birds of Asia (in seven volumes) by John Gould - mainly illustrative
A Century of birds from the Himalaya Mountains (B&W digital copy at the French digital library Gallica - Colour version of plates at UCL London)

Works of Hume are linked at the end of the Wikipedia article on him.
Marshall, GFL (1877) Birds' nesting in India. Calcutta Central Press.
<ref>{{cite book|author=Marshall, GFL |year=1877|title=Birds' nesting in India.|url=http://archive.org/details/cu31924000067763|publisher= Calcutta Central Press|place=Calcutta}}</ref>

Works of Jerdon are linked at the end of the Wikipedia article on him.

Bolster, R.C. (1923) Driven Duck. C.G. Harris. (An interesting work on duck hunting, mainly in north India)

Works of E. C. Stuart Baker
Indian pigeons and doves  (Harvested images)
<ref>{{cite book|title=Indian pigeons and doves|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart| year=1913| publisher=Witherby & Co.|place= London|url=http://archive.org/stream/indianpigeonsdov00bake#page/n9/mode/2up}}</ref>
The game-birds of India, Burma and Ceylon. Volume 1, Volume 2 (Harvested images)
<ref>{{cite book|title=The game-birds of India, Burma and Ceylon. Volume 1|author=Baker, E.C. Stuart| year=1921| publisher=Bombay Natural History Society|place= London|url=http://archive.org/stream/gamebirdsofindia01bake#page/n9/mode/2up}}</ref>
The Indian Ducks and their Allies
<ref>{{cite book|url=http://archive.org/stream/indianduckstheir00bake#page/n7/mode/2up|title=The Indian Ducks and their Allies|author=Baker, E. C. Stuart| year=1908|publisher=The Bombay Natural History Society|place= London}}</ref>
The Nidification of Birds of the Indian Empire. Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4
<ref>{{cite book|author=Baker, E. C. S. |year=1932| title= The Nidification of Birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. |publisher=Taylor & Francis| place=London}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|author=Baker, E. C. S. |year=1933| title= The Nidification of Birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2.|publisher=Taylor & Francis| place= London}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|author=Baker, E. C. S. |year=1934| title= The Nidification of Birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. |publisher=Taylor & Francis| place= London}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|author=Baker, E. C. S. |year=1935| title= The Nidification of Birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 4. |publisher=Taylor & Francis| place= London}}</ref>


Fletcher, T. Bainbrigge & C.M. Inglis (1936) Birds of an Indian Garden. Thacker, Spink & Co., Calcutta.

Works by Frank Finn (full list on Wikipedia)
Garden and aviary birds of India Finn's work, although outdated, has useful bits on birds in captivity and local customs and ethno-ornithological titbits

<ref>{{cite book|author=Finn, Frank |year=1915| title=Garden and aviary birds of India|edition=2||publisher=Thacker, Spink and Co.|place=Calcutta|pages=| url=http://archive.org/stream/gardenaviarybird00finn#page/n5/mode/2up}}</ref>
Indian sporting birds
<ref>{{cite book|author=Finn, Frank |year=1915| title=Indian sporting birds|publisher=Francis Edwards|place=London|pages= | url=http://archive.org/stream/indiansportingbi00finn#page/n7/mode/2up}}</ref>
The game birds of India and Asia
<ref>{{cite book|title=The game birds of India and Asia|year=1911| author=Finn, Frank| publisher=Thacker, Spink & Co.| place= Calcutta|url=http://archive.org/stream/cu31924016412631#page/n5/mode/2up| pages=}}</ref>

Mason, Charles William (1911) The food of birds in India. Calcutta, Imperial Dept. of Agric. in India - An important work  based on skin dissections, something that may never be repeated.

Mackintosh, L. J. (1915) Birds of Darjeeling and India. Banerjee Press, Calcutta.

A manual of the game birds of India. Volume 1 & Volume 2 by Eugene W. Oates
<ref>{{cite book|title=A manual of the game birds of India. Part 1-Land Birds. |author=Oates, Eugene W.| year=1898| publisher=A. J. Combridge & Co.|place= Bombay| url=http://archive.org/stream/manualofgamebird01oaterich#page/n5/mode/2up| pages=}}</ref>
<ref>{{cite book|title=A manual of the game birds of India. Part 2-Water Birds. |author=Oates, Eugene W.| year=1899| publisher=A. J. Combridge & Co.|place= Bombay| url=http://archive.org/stream/manualofgamebird02oate#page/n5/mode/2up| pages=}}</ref>

The birds of southern India by HR Baker & CM Inglis- a rare work but with errors - a better scan
<ref>{{cite book|author=Baker, H.R. & C.M. Inglis |year=1930| title=The birds of southern India including Madras, Malabar, Travancore, Cochin, Coorg and Mysore|publisher=Government Press|place=Madras|pages= | url=http://archive.org/stream/TheBirdsOfSouthernIndia/BakerInglis#page/n9/mode/2up}}</ref>

The Edible and Game Birds of British India by James Alexander? Murray
<ref>{{cite book|author=Murray, James A. |year=1889| title=The Edible and Game Birds of British India |publisher=Trubner & Co.|place=London|pages= | url=http://archive.org/stream/ediblegamebirdso00murrrich#page/n3/mode/2up}}</ref>

Game, shore, and water birds of India, with additional references to their allied species in other parts of the world by Colonel A. Le Messurier
<ref>{{cite book|author=Le Messurier, A| title= Game, shore, and water birds of India, with additional references to their allied species in other parts of the world|edition=4| year=1904| publisher=W. Thacker and Co.| place= London| pages= }}</ref>

Books by Douglas Dewar are linked from the Wikipedia article. Mostly casual writing with insights into popular culture of the day and creationist thinking. His Common Birds of India (1923) in two volumes is a little known work which is a bit more interesting in that it captures a lot of folklore and knowledge of the period. Volume 1 Volume 2

The Common Birds of Bombay by Eha (1900). A classic light-hearted work on birds. A 1945 (3rd edition with notes by Salim Ali and preface by Loke Wan Tho can be found here.
<ref>{{cite book|author=Eha|year=1900|title=The Common Birds of Bombay|publisher=Thacker & Co.|place=Bombay|url=http://archive.org/stream/commonbirdsofbom00aitkrich#page/n3/mode/2up}}</ref>

Whistler, Hugh (1949) Popular Handbook Of Indian Birds. 4e. This is still a valuable work which inspired Salim Ali in the writing of his popular handbook. (also see 3rd edition 1941)
<ref>{{cite book|title=Popular Handbook Of Indian Birds|author=Whistler, Hugh|year=1949| publisher=Gurney and Jackson| place= London| url=http://archive.org/stream/popularhandbooko033226mbp#page/n7/mode/2up|pages=}}</ref>

Dalgliesh, Gordon (1907) Familiar Indian birds. West, Newman & Co. London.

Indian Scientific Nomenclature of Birds of India, Burma and Ceylon  by Raghu Vira is a rare work that attempts to identify birds in Sanskrit although it was not held in high regard by Salim Ali.
<ref>{{cite book|author=Vira, Raghu & K.N. Dave| year=1949| title= Indian Scientific Nomenclature of Birds of India, Burma and Ceylon.|publisher= International Academy of Indian Culture| place=Nagpur.|url=http://archive.org/stream/SanskritBirds#page/n1/mode/2up |pages=}}</ref> 

Popular and older works of Salim Ali 
With Laeeq Futehally - Common Birds published by the National Book Trust
The Book of Indian Birds (Edition 1), (Edition 2), (Edition 5), (Edition 7)
The Birds of Kutch

Continued
More Bird Books will covers works that are taxonomically organized, encompass larger regions (the Palearctic and oriental realms), cover adjoining countries or very small regions.



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