Alexander Skutch could well have been rated the "dean of neotropical ornithology", having devoted most of his adult life to the study of birds in Central America and northern South America. He pursued his work with diligent attention to the life histories of the species he encountered, but his writings were much more than dry academic monographs. His affection for the subjects of his studies reveals itself to the reader, and may be most evident if this little volume, devoted to the exclusively American family of hummingbirds . The opening chapter is an overview of a family that at the time of publication included 320 species in 123 genera, making it "the largest in this hemisphere, with the single exception of the American flycatchers". Following that are chapters devoted to plumage ("Colors and Adornments"), "Flight" (and the structural features enabling this remarkable aspect of hummingbird existence), "Food, Metabolism, and Longevity", the adaptations of bill shape and tongue to conform to (in many instances) specific flowers, "Daily Activities and Temperament" (disputing the reputed pugnacity so often attributed to hummers), courtship and other vocalizations (in addition to non-vocal sounds), nests and nest life, predation and other interspecific encounters, and "The Past and Future of Hummingbirds" (an intriguing dissertation on the evolution of the many species and their prospects for survival in the face of increasing threats to (especially) forest habitats).