The Illustrated Guide to Ducks and Geese and other Domestic Fowl

This is intended as a reference book but is actually the most delightful coffee table book I have seen in a while, even for people who have no plans to raise ducks, geese, guineafowl, peafowl, quail or turkeys on their piece of land. That is because all the illustrations, of which there are a generous number, are charming watercolour paintings, many of which might be lovely framed on the wall. One could describe them as the avian equivalent of botanical art in that they aim for accuracy.

The supporting text is interesting, user friendly and well organised. There is information on each type of bird (including profiles and illustrations on a whole lot of different ducks and geese – who knew there were so many?) with guidelines on good practice for rearing them at home to eating stage. We have resident quail in our garden which delight us, as do our resident wild ducks so I am less motivated by the food production side. But of course these birds have long been part of the human diet and it is sentimental to eat chicken while waxing eloquent on the charm of more beauteous members of the ornithological population. I am not experienced or qualified to pass comment on the quality of the advice beyond saying that it looks credible, is based on experience, has references for further research if required and there certainly looks to be good information to get you started. It includes a chart on common ailments from bumblefoot through avian flu to scaly leg and more. It is a quality hardback from an English author and publisher and I will be keeping my review copy because it is such an attractive and engaging book. There are earlier companion titles on chickens (more our style) and pigs.

The Illustrated Guide to Ducks and Geese and other Domestic Fowl by Celia Lewis. (Bloomsbury; ISBN: 978 1 4081 5264 5)

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted with their permission.