Saturday, March 25, 2017

New Titles



1) Clark, William S. and N. John Schmitt. Raptors of Mexico and Central America. 2017. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 304 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Raptors are among the most challenging birds to identify in the field due to their bewildering variability of plumage, flight silhouettes, and behavior. Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the first illustrated guide to the region's 69 species of raptors, including vagrants. It features 32 stunning color plates and 213 color photos, and a distribution map for each regularly occurring species. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, age-related plumages, status and distribution, subspecies, molt, habitats, behaviors, potential confusion species, and more.
     Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the essential field guide to this difficult bird group and the ideal travel companion for anyone visiting this region of the world.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the raptors of the region!


2) Kricher, John. The New Neotropical Companion. 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 432 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The New Neotropical Companion is the completely revised and expanded edition of a book that has helped thousands of people to understand the complex ecology and natural history of the most species-rich area on Earth, the American tropics. Featuring stunning color photos throughout, it is a sweeping and cutting-edge account of tropical ecology that includes not only tropical rain forests but also other ecosystems such as cloud forests, rivers, savannas, and mountains. This is the only guide to the American tropics that is all-inclusive, encompassing the entire region's ecology and the amazing relationships among species rather than focusing just on species identification.
     The New Neotropical Companion is a book unlike any other. Here, you will learn how to recognize distinctive ecological patterns of rain forests and other habitats and to interpret how these remarkable ecosystems function--everything is explained in clear and engaging prose free of jargon. You will also be introduced to the region's astonishing plant and animal life.
     Informative and entertaining, The New Neotropical Companion is a pleasurable escape for armchair naturalists, and visitors to the American tropics will want to refer to this book before, during, and after their trip.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the New World tropics.


3) Laist, David W.. North Atlantic Right Whales: From Hunted Leviathan to Conservation Icon. 2017. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 432 pages. Price: $44.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In the cold waters of the unforgiving North Atlantic Ocean, some of the heartiest humans of medieval days ventured out in search of whales. Through the centuries, people on both sides of the Atlantic became increasingly dependent on whale oil and other cetacean products. To meet this growing demand, whaling became ever more sophisticated and intense, leading to the collapse of what was once a seemingly inexhaustible supply of large cetaceans. Central to the whale’s subsequent struggle for existence has been one species--the North Atlantic right whale. Conservationist David W. Laist now provides the first complete history of the North Atlantic right whale, from its earliest encounters with humans to its close brush with extinction, to its currently precarious yet hopeful status as a conservation icon.
     Favored by whalers because of their high yields of oil and superior baleen, these giants became known as "the right whale to hunt," and their numbers dwindled to a mere 100 individuals worldwide. Their dire status encouraged the adoption of a ban on hunting and a treaty that formed the International Whaling Commission. Recovery of the species, however, has proven elusive. Ship strikes and entanglement in commercial fishing gear have hampered herculean efforts to restore the population. Today, only about 500 right whales live along the US and Canadian Atlantic coasts--an improvement from the early twentieth century, but still a far cry from the thousands that once graced Atlantic waters.
     Laist’s masterpiece features an incredible collection of photographs and artwork that give life to the fascinating history that unfolds in its pages. The result is a single volume that offers a comprehensive understanding of North Atlantic right whales, the role they played in the many cultures that hunted them, and our modern attempts to help them recover.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in this species.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Titles



1) de Juana, Eduardo, and Juan Varela. Birds of Spain. 2017. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 257 pages. Price: $37.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: English version of Aves de España, the most popular Field Guide to the identification of the birds of Spain. Recommended by SEO/Birdlife, it contains updated information on all bird species present in Spanish territories. Includes Peninsular Spain, Ceuta, Melilla and the Balearic and Canary Islands. Describes field identification characteristics, habitat, migratory status, distribution and conservation status of all regularly present species and common vagrants, and also contains an appendix with a summary of other occasional species. Completely revised texts and many new drawings. Updated taxonomy following the HBW and Birdlife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. More than 300 maps detailing the areas of presence throughout the year. Around 1,000 color illustrations showing the main details for the identification of the species in the field. 567 species, including 173 vagrants.
RECOMMENDATION: A useful supplement to the standard European guides.


2)  Egmond, Florike. Eye for Detail: Images of Plants and Animals in Art and Science, 1500-1630. 2017. Reaktion Books. Hardbound: 280 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Image-transforming techniques such as close-up, time lapse, and layering are generally associated with the age of photography, but as Florike Egmond shows in this book, they were already being used half a millennium ago. Exploring the world of natural history drawings from the Renaissance, Eye for Detail shows how the function of identification led to image manipulation techniques that will look uncannily familiar to the modern viewer.
            Egmond shows how the format of images in nature studies changed dramatically during the Renaissance period, as high-definition naturalistic representation became the rule during a robust output of plant and animal drawings. She examines what visual techniques like magnification can tell us about how early modern Europeans studied and ordered living nature, and she focuses on how attention to visual detail was motivated by an overriding question: the secret of the origins of life. Beautifully and precisely illustrated throughout, this volume serves as an arresting guide to the massive European collections of nature drawings and an absorbing study of natural history art of the sixteenth century.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the history of natural history art.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Titles



1) Fuller, Randall. The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation. 2017. Viking. Hardbound: 294 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A compelling portrait of a unique moment in American history when the ideas of Charles Darwin reshaped American notions about nature, religion, science and race.
     Throughout its history America has been torn in two by debates over ideals and beliefs.  Randall Fuller takes us back to one of those turning points, in 1860, with the story of the influence of Charles Darwin’s just-published On the Origin of Species on five American intellectuals, including Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, the child welfare reformer Charles Loring Brace, and the abolitionist Franklin Sanborn. 
     Each of these figures seized on the book’s assertion of a common ancestry for all creatures as a powerful argument against slavery, one that helped provide scientific credibility to the cause of abolition.  Darwin’s depiction of constant struggle and endless competition described America on the brink of civil war.  But some had difficulty aligning the new theory to their religious convictions and their faith in a higher power.  Thoreau, perhaps the most profoundly affected all, absorbed Darwin’s views into his mysterious final work on species migration and the interconnectedness of all living things.
     Creating a rich tableau of nineteenth-century American intellectual culture, as well as providing a fascinating biography of perhaps the single most important idea of that time, The Book That Changed America is also an account of issues and concerns still with us today, including racism and the enduring conflict between science and religion.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in Darwinian related history.


2) Mitchell, Dominic. Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East: An Annotated Checklist. 2017. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 335 pages. Price: $37.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A detailed systematic list of all 1,148 species with Latin and English names, other names, taxonomy, and distribution for each.
     This is the most up-to-date annotated checklist of bird species and subspecies recorded in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, including Iran and the Arabian Peninsula - the 'greater' Western Palearctic. Species are presented in systematic order, and each species entry includes scientific and English names, taxonomic notes, distribution and range/vagrancy occurrences within the region. In addition to the main list of almost 1,150 species, appendices detail regionally endemic and extinct birds, those no longer considered to have occurred, and the national lists of all regional countries. The first major update for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East since the Birds of the Western Palearctic series came to an end two decades ago, this long-awaited checklist is essential reading for all those with an interest in the 'WP' and its avifauna.
     A detailed systematic list based on the taxonomy of the IOC World Bird List. IUCN Red List category, world range and regional distribution are summarized for each species. Also includes all widely used alternative English names.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the birds of the Western Palearctic.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

New Title



1) Jiguet, Frédéric and Aurélien Audevard. Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East: A Photographic Guide. 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 446 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East is the first comprehensive pocket-sized photographic field guide to every bird species in Europe--this includes winter visitors and common migrants but also all rarities to the region, even if they have been recorded only once. The guide also covers hypothetical species--those that have a good chance of being recorded due to such factors as range expansion and changing weather patterns.
     The book's 2,200 stunning color photographs mean that every species is pictured, making field identification quick and easy. Succinct text covers key identification features, voice, habitat, and distribution, and distribution maps are provided for regular breeding species. Particular attention and details are given to help differentiate similar-looking species.
      Lavishly illustrated, up-to-date, and wide-ranging, Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East is an essential field guide for every naturalist and birder.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated photographic guide to the birds of the region.

Friday, March 10, 2017

New Title



1) White, Lisa A. and Jeffrey A. Gordon (editors). Good Birders Still Don't Wear White. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 269 pages. Price: $13.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Avid North American birders share wit, wisdom, advice, and what fuels their passion for birds.
     Birding gets you outside, helps you de-stress, exercises your body and mind, puts your day-to-day problems in perspective, and can be lots of fun. Birders know this, and in this collection of thirty-seven brief essays, birders from diverse backgrounds share their sense of wonder, joy, and purpose about their passion (and sometimes obsession).
     From the Pacific Ocean to Central Park, from the rainforest in Panama to suburban backyards-no matter what their habitat, what good birders have in common is a curiosity about the natural world and a desire to share it with others. In these delightful essays, each accompanied by an endearing drawing, devoted birders reveal their passion to be fulfilling, joyful, exhilarating, and maybe even contagious.
     Contributors include many well-known birders, such as Richard Crossley, Pete Dunne, Kenn Kaufman, Michael O'Brien, Bill Thompson, and Julie Zickefoose.
     A portion of the proceeds goes to the American Birding Association, North America's largest membership organization for active birders.
RECOMMENDATION: If you liked the original book, you should like this one.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

New Titles



1) Breisch, Alvin R. and Matt Patterson. The Snake and the Salamander: Reptiles and Amphibians from Maine to Virginia. 2017. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 222 pages. Price: $49.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In the best tradition of natural history writing and art, The Snake and the Salamander explores the diverse collection of reptiles and amphibians that inhabit the northeastern quadrant of the United States. Covering 13 states that run from Maine to Virginia, author Alvin R. Breisch and artist Matt Patterson showcase the lives of 83 species of snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, and salamanders. These intriguing animals are organized by habitat and type, from forest to grassland to bogs to big waters, and revealed through a combination of Breisch’s engaging prose and Patterson’s original color illustrations.
     Breisch’s guided tour combines historical notes and conservation issues with lessons on genetics, evolution, habitats, life histories, and more. Discover how careful attention to frog calls coupled with DNA analysis led to the discovery of a new species of frog in New York City, why evolutionary adaptations made the Eastern Ratsnake a superb climber, and the surprising fact that Spiny Softshell turtles actually sprint on land to retreat from predators. Breisch also tells the odd tale of the Green Frog and the Smooth Greensnake, two "green species" that do not actually have any green pigment in their skin. Every species has a story to tell―one that will keep the reader wanting to learn more.
     The breadth of herpetofauna in the area will surprise many readers: more than 8% of the world’s salamanders and 11% of all turtle species live in the region. Beyond numbers, however, lie aesthetics. The surprising colors and fascinating lifestyles of the reptile and amphibian species in this book will mesmerize readers young and old.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the natural history of these species in the region.


2) Pieplow, Nathan. Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 593 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The first comprehensive guide to the sounds of eastern North American birds, featuring an innovative visual index that allows readers to quickly look up unfamiliar sounds in the field.​
     Bird songs and calls are just as important as visual field marks in identifying birds. But until now, the only way to learn them was by memorization. With this groundbreaking book, it’s possible to visually distinguish bird sounds and identify birds using a field guide format. 
      At the core of this guide is the spectrogram, a visual graph of sound. With a brief introduction to five key aspects—speed, repetition, pauses, pitch pattern, and tone quality—readers can learn to visualize sounds, without any musical training or auditory memorization. Picturing sounds makes it possible to search this book visually for a bird song heard in the field.  
      The Sound Index groups similar songs together, narrowing the identification choices quickly to a brief list of birds that sound alike. Readers can then turn to the species account for more information and/or listen to the accompanying audio tracks available online, through Cornell's Lab of Ornithology. 
      Identifying birds by sound is arguably the most challenging and important skill in birding. This book makes it vastly easier to master than ever before.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting way to learn bird sounds. A Western version is in the works.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Titles



1) Brennan,  Leonard A. et al.. The Upland and Webless Migratory Game Birds of Texas. 2017.
Texas A&M University Press. Hardbound: 253 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Authored by some of the state’s top wildlife scientists, The Upland and Webless Migratory Game Birds of Texas presents the most up-to-date and comprehensive information covering twenty-one species of game birds. Ranging from the most well-known, like the Wild Turkey and Mourning Dove, to the marsh-loving rails and other more elusive species, these birds have widespread appeal among both hunters and birders and underscore the diverse challenges facing wildlife scientists, land managers, and conservationists in Texas today.
     From cultural significance to taxonomy and evolutionary history, this volume provides a wealth of background information on these species. Additionally, the book offers illustrated species accounts, detailed range maps, and information about habitat and management requirements, hunting regulations, and research priorities. Readers will gain a deeper understanding of these game birds and the array of terrestrial and wetland landscapes key to their survival. This will serve as a convenient and thorough reference volume for wildlife biologists and enthusiasts, as well as landowners and hunters.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in these game birds of Texas.


2) Huskey, Steve. The Skeleton Revealed: An Illustrated Tour of the Vertebrates. 2017. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 351 pages. Price: $49.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The vertebrate skeleton is one of nature’s most amazing feats. Composed of cartilage and bone, it forms the supportive structure for all the remaining aspects of our anatomy. Stripped of skin, we can see the body’s fascinating underlying architecture.
     In this one-of-a-kind book, biologist and skeletal reconstructionist Steve Huskey lays bare the vertebrate skeleton, providing a guided tour of the nuanced differences among the many featured vertebrate species. Using skeletal preparations he has spent decades assembling, Huskey helps us understand why animals live the way they do. He shows us the jaw and fang structures that allow venomous snakes to both kill and consume their prey whole. We see that the eastern mole is built like a weightlifter, allowing it to "swim through soil." Startling images demonstrate that the odd-looking trumpetfish is built not for music but for suction, with a skull that expands to vacuum in its prey.
     The pages of The Skeleton Revealed illuminate not only the elegance of each skeleton, but also the natural history story each skeleton tells. Come along―let’s take a voyage through the boneyard.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in vertebrate anatomy.



3) Koch, Falynn Christine. Science Comics: Bats: Learning to Fly. 2017. First Second. Paperback: 122 pages. Price: $12.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Every volume of Science Comics offers a complete introduction to a particular topic―dinosaurs, coral reefs, the solar system, volcanoes, bats, flying machines, and more. These gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views of their subjects. Whether you're a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty year old with a secret passion for airplanes, these books are for you!
     This volume: In Bats, we follow a little brown bat whose wing is injured by humans on a nature hike. He is taken to a bat rehabilitation center where he meets many different species of bats. They teach him how they fly, what they eat, and where they like to live.
RECOMMENDATION: If you like the other books in the Science Comics series, you should enjoy this one too!