Tuesday, November 21, 2017
1) Reinking, Dan L.. Oklahoma Winter Bird Atlas. 2017. University of Oklahoma Press. Paperback: 538 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Beautifully illustrated with color photographs, maps, graphs, and tables, the Oklahoma Winter Bird Atlas offers ornithologists and amateur birders alike a wealth of easy-to-read information about the status of bird species in Oklahoma. A companion to the Oklahoma Breeding Bird Atlas, this landmark volume by biologist Dan L. Reinking provides a detailed portrait of more than 250 species, from the oft-spotted Red-tailed Hawk, Dark-eyed Junco, and Northern Flicker to the rarely seen Blue-headed Vireo, Cassin’s Finch, and Verdin.
The atlas—one of the first of its kind for winter birds—uses a combination of species accounts, grouped by scientific order, and illustrations to provide a systematic inventory of winter bird distribution across Oklahoma’s counties. Each species account includes a photograph of the featured bird in winter plumage, along with a brief description outlining the times of year it appears in the state, its habitat, its distribution across the state’s counties, and its behavior. Maps indicate surveyed locations in which the species was spotted, while charts and tables further describe the bird's abundance.
The data compiled in this volume represent the work of more than 75 volunteers who conducted bird counts in both early and late winter for the George M. Sutton Avian Research Center. The data span five winters, 2003 to 2008, and 577 blocks of land. Comprehensively researched and thoughtfully presented, the Oklahoma Winter Bird Atlas will prove an invaluable resource for evaluating trends in bird populations that change over time due to such factors as urban expansion, rural development, and climate change.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in Oklahoman birds.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
1) Chandler, Richard. Shorebirds in Action. 2017. Whittles Publishing. Paperback: 248 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Shorebirds, or waders, are a large group of small to medium-sized birds that occur worldwide, in a wide range of predominantly coastal or wetland habitats. Some species are largely sedentary whilst others are amongst the world’s most migratory bird species, travelling thousands of kilometres in a few days.
In addition to describing physical behavioural traits such as feeding, breeding, migration, and particular physiological adaptations, Shorebirds in Action also covers territorial behaviour both when feeding and breeding. There is detailed discussion of the range of species and their different lifestyles together with feeding strategies, flocking, roosting and the avoidance of predators. The seasonal features of shorebirds’ lives are included, such as the various plumages that they have when breeding, or not breeding, together with the intervening periods of moult, during which the birds change from one plumage to the next.
Shorebirds in Action is in two parts – firstly basic behavioural information and then a photographic section that explains the specific behaviour being illustrated for that particular shorebird at the time the photo was taken. Consequently, the book can be read as a general text, split into chapters that provide the basic behavioural information and also by reference to the extended photograph captions which explain the details of the particular behaviour shown.
The book contains excellent photographs of about 180 shorebird species – over three-quarters of the world’s total – and therefore provides a general reference for the identification of shorebird species and the recognition of their various plumages. It will be relevant to readers worldwide, including Europe, North America and Australasia. This comprehensive work can be read as a general text and also the photographs can be enjoyed separately in their own right. Detailed references to source material are provided.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the biology of shorebirds.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
1) Miller, Marli B. and Darrel S. Cowan. Roadside Geology of Washington, 2nd Edition. 2017. Mountain Press. Paperback: 378 pages. Price: $26.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Washington is alive with geologic activity: It’s home to the most active volcanoes in the lower 48, earthquakes regularly rattle the populated Puget Sound region, the potential of landslides increases with each soaking rain, and tsunami evacuation routes alert tourists in Olympic National Park to the active plate boundary just off the coast. The only geologic hazard Washingtonians need not fear, at least not with the continued trend of global warming, is another Ice Age flood. More than forty of the biggest floods known in the history of Earth scoured the Channeled Scabland of eastern Washington, the most recent only about 15,000 years ago.
Since the first edition of Roadside Geology of Washington appeared on the book shelves in 1984, several generations of geologists have studied the wild assortment of rocks in the Evergreen State, from 45-million-year-old sandstone exposed in sea cliffs at Cape Flattery to 1.4-billion-year-old sandstone near Spokane. In between are the rugged granitic and metamorphic peaks of the North Cascades, the volcanic flows of Mt. Rainier and the other active volcanoes of the Cascade magmatic arc, and the 2-mile-thick flood basalts of the Columbia Basin. With the help of this brand new, completely updated second edition, you can appreciate spectacular geologic features along more than forty of Washington’s highways.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the geology of Washington State!
2) Browne, Janet. The Quotable Darwin. 2017. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 348 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Here is Charles Darwin in his own words―the naturalist, traveler, scientific thinker, and controversial author of On the Origin of Species, the book that shook the Victorian world. Featuring hundreds of quotations carefully selected by world-renowned Darwin biographer Janet Browne, The Quotable Darwin draws from Darwin’s writings, letters to friends and family, autobiographical reminiscences, and private scientific notebooks. It offers a multifaceted portrait that takes readers through his youth, the famous voyage of the Beagle, the development of his thoughts about evolution, his gradual loss of religious faith, and the time spent turning his ideas into a well-articulated theory about the natural origin of all living beings―a theory that dangerously included the origin of humans.
The Quotable Darwin also includes many of the key responses to Darwin’s ideas from figures across the social spectrum, scientists and nonscientists alike―and criticism too. We see Darwin as an innovative botanist and geologist, an affectionate husband and father, and a lively correspondent who once told his cousin that he liked to play billiards because “it drives the horrid species out of my head.” This book gives us an intimate look at Darwin at work, at home, as a public figure, and on his travels.
Complete with a chronology of Darwin’s life by Browne, The Quotable Darwin provides an engagingly fresh perspective on a remarkable man who was always thinking deeply about the natural world.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's other works on Darwin, you should enjoy this one.
Friday, November 3, 2017
1) Johnson, Erik I. and Jared D. Wolfe. Molt in Neotropical Birds: Life History and Aging Criteria (Studies in Avian Biology). 2017. CRC Press. Hardbound: 400 pages. Price: $179.94 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Molt is an important avian life history event in which feathers are shed and replaced. The timing, duration, seasonality, extent and pattern of molt follows certain strategies and this book reviews and describes these strategies for nearly 190 species based on information gathered from a 30-year study of Central Amazonian birds. Most species accounts are illustrated with several color photos focusing on wing and tail feather molt, molt limits, and how to use these patterns to accurately age birds. The book will be a rich source of life history information for ornithologists working on tropical birds.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with a technical interest in bird molt.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
1) Davidson, Jane P.. Patrons of Paleontology: How Government Support Shaped a Science. 2017. Indiana University Press. Hardbound: 232 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In the 19th and early 20th centuries, North American and European governments generously funded the discoveries of such famous paleontologists and geologists as Henry de la Beche, William Buckland, Richard Owen, Thomas Hawkins, Edward Drinker Cope, O. C. Marsh, and Charles W. Gilmore. In Patrons of Paleontology, Jane Davidson explores the motivation behind this rush to fund exploration, arguing that eagerness to discover strategic resources like coal deposits was further fueled by patrons who had a genuine passion for paleontology and the fascinating creatures that were being unearthed. These early decades of government support shaped the way the discipline grew, creating practices and enabling discoveries that continue to affect paleontology today.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in paleontological history.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
1) Strycker, Noah. Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 326 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Traveling to 41 countries in 2015 with a backpack and binoculars, Noah Strycker became the first person to see more than half the world’s 10,000 species of birds in one year.
In 2015, Noah Strycker set himself a lofty goal: to become the first person to see half the world’s birds in one year. For 365 days, with a backpack, binoculars, and a series of one-way tickets, he traveled across forty-one countries and all seven continents, eventually spotting 6,042 species—by far the biggest birding year on record.
This is no travelogue or glorified checklist. Noah ventures deep into a world of blood-sucking leeches, chronic sleep deprivation, airline snafus, breakdowns, mudslides, floods, war zones, ecologic devastation, conservation triumphs, common and iconic species, and scores of passionate bird lovers around the globe. By pursuing the freest creatures on the planet, Noah gains a unique perspective on the world they share with us—and offers a hopeful message that even as many birds face an uncertain future, more people than ever are working to protect them.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone that enjoys reading about birding adventures!
Saturday, October 21, 2017
1) Ridpath, Ian and Wil Tirion. Stars and Planets: The Most Complete Guide to the Stars, Planets, Galaxies, and Solar System (Princeton Field Guides). 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 400 pages. Price: $22.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In this newly updated and expanded edition of their classic work, Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion illuminate the night sky as never before, providing novice stargazers and professional astronomers alike with the most informative, user-friendly, comprehensive, and authoritative celestial field guide available. The product of a thirty-year collaboration between one of the world’s leading astronomy writers and the world’s foremost celestial mapmaker, Stars and Planets features superb color sky charts, diagrams, or photographs on almost every page; clear and engaging writing; a spacious and attractive design; and a compact size. This updated edition features the latest information on stars, a revised section on planets that incorporates recent research on exoplanets, and some revised charts and new photographs. Simply put, Stars and Planets is indispensable. Don’t leave home―at night―without it.
- Detailed charts covering all 88 constellations in the Northern and Southern hemispheres
- Data and notes on all bright stars and other objects of interest
- Detailed Moon maps and descriptions of the main lunar features
- Tips on choosing and using binoculars and telescopes, to suit any budget
- The only guide to provide annual planetary data as a downloadable online resource
- Updates include the latest data on stars and exoplanets and some revised charts and new photos