Book Review: Undiscovered Owls

When I was younger I remember having a fascination for owls, as for most species. I remember visiting one of my local patches and seeing a tawny owl there almost every time. I was amazed by the bird, I always thought how different it was to other birds with that mysterious but magical look about it. Along with its character and ability to make its presence so different. I also remember sitting in the back seat whilst driving down country lanes near where I live with my head hanging out looking up into the trees. Quite often we’d see little owls down this same stretch.

Obviously I still admire them as much as I did when I was younger. I often see a tawny owl or the occasional little owl on my local patch or when I’m out and about and much further afield.

A few months back I was asked to give a talk at an event that a friend of mine, Emily Joachim, was running down in Bath. It was a day of ‘Be a Zoologist’ workshops and I gave a talk. Emily is a really passionate conservationist and zoologist who specialises in British Owls. It was great to speak to Emily about the work she does and how enthusiastic she is, you can read more about this on her new website/blog on Little Owls by clicking here.

As you’ll see from my title the book is called Undiscovered Owls (for a very good reason) and is by Magnus Robb and The Sound Approach. The book focuses on species within Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It includes 4 CDs with an impressive 327 sound recordings, and is filled with beautiful illustrations from the Swedish artist Hakin Delin.

When this book was first sent out to me I was very excited. I’d read about it online and I know how fantastic The Sound Approaches books are. My first impressions were that it was very smart and slick looking, detailed and professional. After having a brief look through I was eager to start reading it, listen to the sounds and look at everything else that accompanies the text. Also I was particularly fascinated by the owl displayed on the front cover, Omani Owl, and the story behind that bird which I later went onto read.

The book is set into nine different chapters with each one including different species belonging to a genuses. Then, about each species there are sound recordings of the species with superb descriptions of the sound, interesting sonagrams, a variety of stories from their adventures and experiences, bucket loads of information and facts, and beautiful photos, art work and diagrams. A true insight into each species and with all this detail you can’t help but be gripped!

The CDs which accompany the book also make a great twist. They are very good and I found myself excited to read through to the next sonogram, listen to the tape and have a real experience of how the voice works. The quality of the sounds are perfect too and having the CDs like this was different. However the whole book was very different but very good and definitely unique.

A lot of things stood out for me in the book. Firstly, as I mentioned before the Omani Owl. The excitement of this part of the book all added to that idea of ‘Undiscovered Owls’. The new species was completely new to science and discovered in a remote mountain range in Oman.  Whilst they were out searching for Pallid Scops Owl they heard an unfamiliar owl. Within a few minutes they recorded three different calls of the owl, at this point there was the exciting possibility but it wasn’t until a month later until it was spotted.

I found the story of this discovery very intriguing along with other species in the book including the Turkish Fish owl which they recorded but is a very rare species.

Even if you’re not interested in owls I’m pretty sure you would still enjoy this book. Also, if like me you’re a big fan of British wildlife, as I mentioned before it includes owls of Europe, so there’s species like barn owls, tawny owls, little owls, long eared owls and a few more.

If you haven’t guessed, I thought this book was fantastic and really enjoyed reading it. You can get your own copy here –