Thursday, December 7, 2017

New Titles


1) Ngarachu, Catherine. 50 Top Birding Sites in Kenya. 2017. Struik Nature. Paperback: 168 pages. Price: $14.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A book that outlines the top 50 birding spots in Kenya. Each site is structured in the same way according to key headings: overview; location; visitor info; habitat; key species; where to see what at that site, and other wildlife. Color photographs of sites and species will accompany each entry. The book will appeal to local birders and tourists. For the very first time, local and international birders will have a detailed guide to Kenya’s best birding sites, which will help them to locate the key species in each area, including sought-after ‘specials’ and endemics.
    It offers:
• a map for each site with specific guidance on where to look for particular birds
• detailed information about the birds likely to be seen
• advice on when to visit
• tips for planning your trip, and
• descriptions of each site, detailing the plants and other wildlife that may be encountered.


 RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in birding Kenya.



2) Chris and Mathilde Stuart. Stuarts’ Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa. 2017. Struik Nature. Paperback: 456 pages. Price: $28.50 U.S. 
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Of the more than 5,500 mammals species worldwide, at least 1,200 occur in Africa. Stuarts’ Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa – a classic and widely acclaimed work – concentrates on the more visible and easily distinguished larger species, as well as some of the more frequently seen smaller mammals. This new edition has been extensively revised, expanded and redesigned and includes: the most recent research and taxonomy; revised distribution maps and many new images; colour-coded grouping of orders; size icons; detailed descriptions of each species, offering insight into key identification characters, typical behaviour, preferred habitat, food choice, reproduction and longevity; whales and dolphins now featured too.

RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated overview of these mammals of Africa.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

New Title


1) Cranshaw, Whitney and David Shetlar. Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs (Second Edition). 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 704 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This second edition of Garden Insects of North America solidifies its place as the most comprehensive guide to the common insects, mites, and other “bugs” found in the backyards and gardens of the United States and Canada. Featuring 3,300 full-color photos and concise, detailed text, this fully revised book covers the hundreds of species of insects and mites associated with fruits and vegetables, shade trees and shrubs, flowers and ornamental plants, and turfgrass―from aphids and bumble bees to leafhoppers and mealybugs to woollybears and yellowjacket wasps―and much more. This new edition also provides a greatly expanded treatment of common pollinators and flower visitors, the natural enemies of garden pests, and the earthworms, insects, and other arthropods that help with decomposing plant matter in the garden.
     Designed to help you easily identify what you find in the garden, the book is organized by where insects are most likely to be seen―on leaves, shoots, flowers, roots, or soil. Photos are included throughout the book, next to detailed descriptions of the insects and their associated plants.
     An indispensable guide to the natural microcosm in our backyards, Garden Insects of North America continues to be the definitive resource for amateur gardeners, insect lovers, and professional entomologists.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the garden insects of North America.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

New Titles


1) Hume, Julian P.. Extinct Birds (Second Edition). 2017. Helm. Hardbound: 608 pages. Price: $90.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Covering both familiar icons of extinction as well as more obscure birds, some known from just one specimen or from traveler's tales, Extinct Birds looks at hundreds of species from the sub-fossil record--birds that disappeared without ever being recorded.
     Julian Hume recreates these lost birds in stunning detail, bringing together an up-to-date review of the literature for every species. From Great Auks, Carolina Parakeets, and Dodos to the amazing yet completely vanished bird radiations of Hawaii and New Zealand, via rafts of extinctions in the Pacific and elsewhere, this book is both a sumptuous reference and an amazing testament to humanity's impact on birds.
     A direct replacement for Greenway's seminal 1958 title Extinct and Vanishing Birds, this book will be the standard reference on the subject for generations to come.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in extinct birds.


2) Watson, Donald. The Hen Harrier. 2017 (1977). Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 416 pages. Price: $24.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: An acknowledged classic of narrative nature-writing, Donald Watson's The Hen Harrier (originally published in 1977) was the culmination of a lifetime's study of this beautiful upland bird. A gentle, warm and wonderfully written book, The Hen Harrier stems from an age of 'amateur' conservation, from the pen of a man who cared deeply about birds and their habitats, especially of the Scottish borders where he conducted much of his research and painting. The book was among the last of a dying breed; it would be thirty years or more before writing on our natural history would again reach the heights of accessibility to nature-lovers exemplified by Donald Watson and his peers.
     The book starts with Watson setting down more or less everything known about harriers – which at that time often consisted of information sent by letter to the author, rather than published in a journal – before moving on to the story of Watson's years studying nests in the south-west of Scotland.
     With a foreword by conservation champion Mark Avery, this edition of Watson's greatest work is particularly timely. The conflict between grouse-shooting interests, which has overseen the virtual extinction of the harrier as a breeding bird in England through illegal persecution, and an increasingly vocal conservationist lobby is the number one conservation issue in Britain today.
     Donald Watson's narrative soars like a sky-dancing harrier throughout this book. Read it, and be taken back to a simpler age of nature conservation by a true master of the art.
 RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the Hen Harrier.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

New Title


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

New Title


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

New Titles


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

New Title


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

New Title



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

New Title


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

New Title


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
 RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interested in Astronomy.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Title


1) Crossley, Richard, Paul Baicich, and Jessie Barry. The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl. 2017. Crossley Books. Flexibound: 510 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, published in 2011, revolutionized birding and books by providing the first real-life approach to ID. The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl, the fourth of these user-friendly guides, is for both hunters and birders. Unlike other guides, which provide isolated individual photographs or paint illustrations, this book features large, lifelike scenes that are 'painted in pixels.' Nearly 300 pages of waterfowl scenes - showing waterfowl in a wide range of views - near and far, from different angles, in various plumages and behaviors, including flight, and in the habitat in which they live. These beautiful compositions show how a bird's appearance changes with distance, and give equal emphasis to characteristics experts use to identify birds: size, structure and shape, behavior, probability, and color. This is the first book to convey all of these features visually - in a single image - and to reinforce them with accurate text.       Each scene provides a wealth of detailed visual information that invites and rewards careful study. By making identification easier, more accurate, and more fun than ever before, The Crossley ID Guides redefine how readers look at nature. Essential for anyone interested in waterfowl, it also promises to make new birders of many people who have despaired of using traditional guides. This waterfowl guide also carries a strong underlying conservation message. If all the readers of this book come together as one, we can better protect the things we love.
RECOMMENDATION: The two features I like most about this book are the female/eclipse plumage plates (usually labeled Summer/Fall in the book) and the duck upperwing plates. If you have the other Crossley guides, you'll want this one!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

New Title


1) Gorman, Gerard. Woodpecker (Animal Series). 2017. Reaktion Books. Paperback: 180 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Woodpeckers are among the most remarkable birds in the avian world, having evolved a unique anatomy that enables them to peck and bore into solid timber both to find food and to create nesting cavities. The birds are key indicators of forest health and perform an important ecological role, providing holes that many other animals use. Woodpeckers have been considered symbols of fertility, security, strength, power, prophecy, magic, rhythm, medicine, and carpentry, and have been esteemed across cultures as the guardians of woodlands, tree surgeons, fire-bringers, weather forecasters, and boat-builders.
     In this charming volume, avian expert Gerard Gorman delves into the natural and cultural history of woodpeckers, exploring their origins and habitats and the ways they have fascinated humankind throughout history. Gorman finds woodpeckers everywhere—from ancient Babylon, Greece, and Rome, to the jungles of Amazonia and Borneo, to our modern-day Woody Woodpecker cartoon. Richly illustrated with images from both nature and culture, Woodpecker will appeal to everyone who is interested in these extraordinary birds.
RECOMMENDATION: If you like the author's other woodpecker books, you should like this one! Other recent titles in the series include: Llama, Wild Boar, Lizard, and Hippopotamus.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

New Title


1) Everhart, Michael J.. Oceans of Kansas, Second Edition: A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea (Life of the Past). 2017. Indiana University Press. Hardbound: 427 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Revised, updated, and expanded with the latest interpretations and fossil discoveries, the second edition of Oceans of Kansas adds new twists to the fascinating story of the vast inland sea that engulfed central North America during the Age of Dinosaurs. Giant sharks, marine reptiles called mosasaurs, pteranodons, and birds with teeth all flourished in and around these shallow waters. Their abundant and well-preserved remains were sources of great excitement in the scientific community when first discovered in the 1860s and continue to yield exciting discoveries 150 years later. Michael J. Everhart vividly captures the history of these startling finds over the decades and re-creates in unforgettable detail these animals from our distant past and the world in which they lived―above, within, and on the shores of America’s ancient inland sea.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in Cretaceous paleontology.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

New Title


1) Berta, Annalisa and James L. Sumich. The Rise of Marine Mammals: 50 Million Years of Evolution. 2017. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 198 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Marine mammals have long captured the attention of humans. Ancient peoples etched seals and dolphins on the walls of Paleolithic caves; today, engineers develop microprocessors to track these denizens of the deep. This groundbreaking book from highly respected marine mammal paleontologist Annalisa Berta delves into the story of the extraordinary adaptations that gave the world these amazing animals. The Rise of Marine Mammals reveals remarkable fossil record discoveries that shed light on the origins, relationships, and diversification of marine mammals.
     Focusing on evolution and paleobiology, Berta provides an overview of marine mammal species diversity, enhanced with gorgeous life restorations by Carl Buell, Robert Boessenecker, William Stout, and Ray Troll and extensive line drawings by graphics editor James L. Sumich. The book also considers ongoing conservation challenges, demonstrating how the fossil record of adaptation in response to past environmental shifts may illuminate the way that marine mammals respond to global climate change. This invaluable evolutionary framework is essential for helping us understand how best to protect and conserve today’s polar bears, whales, dolphins, seals, and fellow warm-blooded ocean dwellers.
      The Rise of Marine Mammals also describes exciting breakthroughs that rely on new techniques of study, including 3-D imaging, and molecular, finite element, and morphometric analyses, which have enhanced scientists’ understanding of everything from the anatomy of fetal whales to the genes behind limb loss in cetaceans. Mammalogists, paleontologists, and marine scientists will find Berta’s insights absorbing, while developmental and molecular biologists, geneticists, and ecologists exploring integrative research approaches will benefit from her fresh perspective.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in marine mammal evolution.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New Title



1) Dunn, Jon L. and Jonathan Alderfer. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition. 2017. National Geographic. Paperback: 591 pages. Price: $29.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This fully revised edition of the best-selling North American bird field guide is the most up-to-date guide on the market. Perfect for beginning to advanced birders, it is the only book organized to match the latest American Ornithological Society taxonomy.
     With more than 2.75 million copies in print, this perennial bestseller is the most frequently updated of all North American bird field guides. Filled with hand-painted illustrations from top nature artists (including the ever-popular hummingbird), this latest edition is poised to become an instant must-have for every serious birder in the United States and Canada. The 7th edition includes 37 new species for a total of 1,023 species; 16 new pages allow for 250 fresh illustrations; 80 new maps; and 350 map revisions. With taxonomy revised to reflect the radical new American Ornithological Society taxonomy established in 2016, the addition of standardized banding codes, and text completely vetted by birding experts, this new edition will top of the list of birding field guides for years to come.
RECOMMENDATION: This edition was updated through December 2016. Of all the new artwork, the hummingbird plates are the most revised (all new except for Lucifer Hummingbird). If you own other editions of this book, you will want this one!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

New Title


1) Troelstra, A.S.. Bibliography of Natural History Travel Narratives. 2016. KNNV Publishing. Hardbound: 481 pages. Price: $259.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A.S.Troelstra's fine bibliography is an outstanding and ground-breaking work. He has provided the academic world with a long-needed bibliographical record of human endeavour in the field of the natural sciences. The travel narratives listed here encompass all aspects of the natural world in every part of the globe, but are especially concerned with its fauna, flora and fossil remains. Such eyewitness accounts have always fascinated their readers, but they were never written solely for entertainment: fragmentary though they often are, these narratives of travel and exploration are of immense importance for our scientific understanding of life on earth, providing us with a window on an ever changing, and often vanishing, natural world. Without such records of the past we could not track, document or understand the significance of changes that are so important for the study of zoogeography. With this book Troelstra gives us a superb overview of natural history travel narratives. The well over four thousand detailed entries, ranging over four centuries and all major western European languages, are drawn from a wide range of sources and include both printed books and periodical contributions. While no subject bibliography by a single author can attain absolute completeness, Troelstra's work is comprehensive to a truly remarkable degree. The entries are arranged alphabetically by author and chronologically, by the year of first publication, under the author's name. A brief biography, with the scope and range of their work, is given for each author; every title is set in context, the contents - including illustrations - are described and all known editions and translations are cited. In addition, there is a geographical index that cross refers between authors and the regions visited, and a full list of the bibliographical and biographical sources used in compiling the bibliography.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in natural history travel literature.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Title


1) Newton, Ian. Farming and Birds (Collins New Naturalist Library). 2017. William Collins. Paperback: 628 pages. Price: $31.88 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Given the underlying topography, the scenery over most of Britain has been created largely by human activities. Over the centuries, landscapes have been continually modified as human needs and desires have changed. Each major change in land use has brought changes to the native plants and animals, continually altering the distribution and abundance of species. This is apparent from the changes in vegetation and animal populations that were documented in historical times, but even more so in those that have occurred since the Second World War. More than seventy per cent of Britain's land surface is currently used for crop or livestock production, and in recent decades farming has experienced a major revolution. Not only has it become more thoroughly mechanised, it has also become heavily dependent on synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, and increasingly large-scale in its operation. These changes have brought crop yields and livestock production to levels previously considered unattainable. However, such high yields have been achieved only at huge financial and environmental costs. One of the most conspicuous, and best documented, consequences of modern agriculture has been a massive loss of wildlife, including birds. In this timely addition to the New Naturalist Library, Ian Newton discusses the changes that have occurred in British agriculture over the past seventy years, and the effects they have had on bird populations. He explains how different farming procedures have affected birds and other wildlife, and how an understanding of the processes involved could help in future conservation.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in British avian ecology and/or collect the New Naturalist series.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

New Title


1) Datlow, Ellen (editor). Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales: An Anthology. 2017. Pegasus. Hardbound: 308 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A dazzling anthology of avian-themed fiction guaranteed to frighten and delight, edited by one of the most acclaimed horror anthologists in the genre.
     Birds are usually loved for their beauty and their song. They symbolize freedom, eternal life, the soul.
     There’s definitely a dark side to the avian. Birds of prey sometimes kill other birds (the shrike), destroy other birds’ eggs (blue jays), and even have been known to kill small animals (the kea sometimes eats live lambs). And who isn’t disgusted by birds that eat the dead―vultures awaiting their next meal as the life blood flows from the dying. One of our greatest fears is of being eaten by vultures before we’re quite dead.
     Is it any wonder that with so many interpretations of the avian, that the contributors herein are eager to be transformed or influenced by them? Included in Black Feathers are those obsessed by birds of one type or another. Do they want to become birds or just take on some of the “power” of birds? The presence or absence of birds portends the future. A grieving widow takes comfort in her majestic winged neighbors, who enable her to cope with a predatory relative. An isolated society of women relies on a bird to tell their fortunes. A silent young girl and her pet bird might be the only hope a detective has of tracking down a serial killer in a tourist town. A chatty parrot makes illegal deals with the dying. A troubled man lives in isolation with only one friend for company―a jackdaw.
     In each of these fictions, you will encounter the dark resonance between the human and avian. You see in yourself the savagery of a predator, the shrewd stalking of a hunter, and you are lured by birds that speak human language, that make beautiful music, that cypher numbers, and seem to have a moral center. You wade into this feathered nightmare, and brave the horror of death, trading your safety and sanity for that which we all seek―the promise of flight.
RECOMMENDATION: For those that like their bird tales on the dark side!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Title


1) Costa, James T.. Darwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory. 2017. W. W. Norton. Hardbound: 441 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Darwin’s Backyard goes beyond the portrait of Charles Darwin as a brilliant thinker to concentrate on him as a nimble experimenter delving into some of evolution’s great mysteries.
     James T. Costa takes readers on a journey from Darwin’s childhood through his voyage on the HMS Beagle where his ideas on evolution began. We then follow Darwin to Down House, his bustling home of forty years, where he kept porcupine quills at his desk to dissect barnacles, maintained a flock of sixteen pigeon breeds in the dovecote, and cultivated climbing plants in the study, and to Bournemouth, where on one memorable family vacation he fed carnivorous plants in the soup dishes.
     Using his garden and greenhouse, the surrounding meadows and woodlands, and even taking over the cellar, study, and hallways of his home-turned-field-station, Darwin tested ideas of his landmark theory of evolution with an astonishing array of hands-on experiments that could be done on the fly, without specialized equipment.
     He engaged naturalists, friends, neighbors, family servants, and even his children, nieces, nephews, and cousins as assistants in these experiments, which involved everything from chasing bees and tempting fish to eat seeds to serenading earthworms. From the experiments’ results, he plumbed the laws of nature and evidence for the revolutionary arguments of On the Origin of Species and his other watershed works.
    Beyond Darwin at work, we accompany him against the backdrop of his enduring marriage, chronic illness, grief at the loss of three children, and joy in scientific revelation. This unique glimpse of Darwin’s life introduces us to an enthusiastic correspondent, crowd-sourcer, family man, and, most of all, an incorrigible observer and experimenter.
    Includes directions for eighteen hands-on experiments, for home, school, yard, or garden.
RECOMMENDATION: For those that want to learn more about Darwin the scientist.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Title


1) Webster, Michael S.(editor). The Extended Specimen: Emerging Frontiers in Collections-Based Ornithological Research. 2017. CRC Press. Hardbound: 240 pages. Price: $139.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Extended Specimen highlights the research potential for ornithological specimens, and is meant to encourage ornithologists poised to initiate a renaissance in collections-based ornithological research. Contributors illustrate how collections and specimens are used in novel ways by adopting emerging new technologies and analytical techniques. Case studies use museum specimens and emerging and non-traditional types of specimens, which are developing new methods for making biological collections more accessible and "usable" for ornithological researchers. Thus, book documents the power of ornithological collections to address key research questions of global importance.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in ornithological specimens.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New Title


1) McKay, John J.. Discovering the Mammoth: A Tale of Giants, Unicorns, Ivory, and the Birth of a New Science. 2017. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 241 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The fascinating saga of solving the mystery of this ancient animal who once roamed the north country―and has captivated our collective imagination ever since.
      Today, we know that a mammoth is an extinct type of elephant that was covered with long fur and lived in the north country during the ice ages. But how do you figure out what a mammoth is if you have no concept of extinction, ice ages, or fossils? Long after the last mammoth died and was no longer part of the human diet, it still played a role in human life. Cultures around the world interpreted the remains of mammoths through the lens of their own worldview and mythology.
     When the ancient Greeks saw deposits of giant fossils, they knew they had discovered the battle fields where the gods had vanquished the Titans. When the Chinese discovered buried ivory, they knew they had found dragons’ teeth. But as the Age of Reason dawned, monsters and giants gave way to the scientific method. Yet the mystery of these mighty bones remained. How did Enlightenment thinkers overcome centuries of myth and misunderstanding to reconstruct an unknown animal?
     The journey to unravel that puzzle begins in the 1690s with the arrival of new type of ivory on the European market bearing the exotic name "mammoth." It ends during the Napoleonic Wars with the first recovery of a frozen mammoth. The path to figuring out the mammoth was traveled by merchants, diplomats, missionaries, cranky doctors, collectors of natural wonders, Swedish POWs, Peter the Great, Ben Franklin, the inventor of hot chocolate, and even one pirate.
     McKay brings together dozens of original documents and illustrations, some ignored for centuries, to show how this odd assortment of characters solved the mystery of the mammoth and, in doing so, created the science of paleontology. 8 pages of black-and-white illustrations.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in mammoths. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

New Title


1) Thibault, Jean-Claude and Alice Cibois. Birds of Eastern Polynesia: A Biogeographic Atlas. 2017. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 438 pages. Price: $37.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birds of Eastern Polynesia is the first biogeographic atlas covering all of the birds of one of the largest areas of Oceania. The book treats all of the 241 species, including extinct birds, ever recorded on the Line Islands, the Cook, Austral, Society, Marquesas, Tuamotu and Gambier archipelagos, the Pitcairn Group, and the Eastern Is. Group. Their distribution over the 151 islands of the region is detailed in 142 maps. The species accounts include systematics, a detailed morphometric or genetic analysis when it is available, and data on distribution, population size and trends, habitat and breeding. All species recorded in Eastern Polynesia are illustrated in color, except those only known by bone records.
     Birds of Eastern Polynesia represents an original and much needed ornithological synthesis of all the available literature on Eastern Polynesian birds, including many difficult-to find reports, as well as unpublished data gathered from local ornithologists and biologists. It also contains new data collected by the authors during numerous field trips in Eastern Polynesia and during visits to museum collections. This work presents a complete overview of this vast oceanic region for anyone with an interest in the biology, biogeography and conservation of the birds of the Pacific islands.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in the birds of the region.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Title


1) Arlott, Norman. Birds of South-East Asia (Collins Field Guide). 2017. William Collins. Hardbound: 432 pages. Price: about $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This comprehensive new field guide is an excellent addition to the world-renowned series – the ultimate reference book for travelling birdwatchers.
     Every species of bird you might encounter in the region is featured, apart from non-established introductions. This includes coverage of China (south of the line used to define the Palearctic), Hainan (treated separately from SE China), Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and the Coco Islands. As many of the major subspecies as possible are also included.
     Beautiful artwork depicts their breeding plumage, and non-breeding plumage when it differs significantly. The accompanying text concentrates on the specific characteristics and appearance of each species that allow identification in the field, including voice and distribution maps.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to the birds of the region.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

New Title


1) MacNeal, David. Bugged: The Insects Who Rule the World and the People Obsessed with Them. 2017. St. Martin's Press. Hardbound: 308 pages. Price: $25.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Insects have been shaping our ecological world and plant life for over 400 million years. In fact, our world is essentially run by bugs―there are 1.4 billion for every human on the planet. In Bugged, journalist David MacNeal takes us on an off-beat scientific journey that weaves together history, travel, and culture in order to define our relationship with these mini-monsters.
      MacNeal introduces a cast of bug-lovers―from a woman facilitating tarantula sex and an exterminator nursing bedbugs (on his own blood), to a kingpin of the black market insect trade and a “maggotologist”―who obsess over the crucial role insects play in our everyday lives.
      Just like bugs, this book is global in its scope, diversity, and intrigue. Hands-on with pet beetles in Japan, releasing lab-raised mosquitoes in Brazil, beekeeping on a Greek island, or using urine and antlers as means of ancient pest control, MacNeal’s quest appeals to the squeamish and brave alike. Demonstrating insects’ amazingly complex mechanics, he strings together varied interactions we humans have with them, like extermination, epidemics, and biomimicry. And, when the journey comes to an end, MacNeal examines their commercial role in our world in an effort to help us ultimately cherish (and maybe even eat) bugs.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in entomology.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

New Title



1) Carruthers, Vincent (editor). Wildlife of Southern Africa: A field guide to the animals and plants of the region. 2017. Struik Nature. Paperback: 336 pages. Price: $23.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A field guide to the wildlife of southern Africa, describing over 2,000 plants and animals, with clear illustrations in full colour. This book has been a trusted field companion for many years. Comprehensively updated, it now features range maps for most groups. The chapters are colour-coded for easy reference, and diagnostic features appear in bold type within the descriptions. Each chapter is written by a leading expert in the field: • Lower invertebrates Mike Musgrave • Spiders and other arachnids Astri Leroy • Insects Mike Musgrave • Freshwater fishes Paul Skelton • Frogs Vincent Carruthers • Reptiles Bill Branch • Birds Ken Newman and Christine Read • Mammals Peter Apps • Grasses, sedges, ferns and fungi Elsa Pooley • Wild flowers Elsa Pooley • Trees Elsa Pooley.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to the wildlife of the region.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Title



1) Ryan, Peter. Guide to Seabirds of Southern Africa. 2017. Struik Nature. Paperback: 160 pages. Price: $14.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A field guide to the seabirds that occur around the southern African coastline. Written by a specialist in the field of seabirds, the book focuses on the ID and behaviour of 135 species of seabird commonly seen around the coast and in the seas of the region. The text is supported with photographs (multiple images per bird where available) and distribution maps for all species. • An essential ID guide to all southern African seabird species. • Expert author, Peter Ryan – Director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute. • Outstanding photographs vividly showcase each species • Introductory text covers species, origins, feeding, breeding and conservation.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in Southern African seabirds.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Title



1) Chandler, David. RSPB Spotlight Kingfishers. 2017. Bloomsbury. Paperback: 128 pages. Price: $18.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Usually observed as a flash of blue and orange from a riverbank, most people are aware of Kingfishers, but few of us are familiar with the intricacies of their day-to-day lives.
    With their long, dagger-like bills, bright blue plumage and characteristic fast, low flight over water, Common Kingfishers are instantly recognizable thanks to a massive range that stretches from Ireland, across Europe, North Africa and Asia as far as Australasia. The 90 or so species that belong to this colorful family have a cosmopolitan distribution and, in Spotlight Kingfishers, David Chandler celebrates their remarkable existence, studying their unique adaptations--including their ability to see prey under water--and examines their courtship, breeding and feeding habits. David investigates historical threats to Kingfisher populations, considers their future, and offers practical advice on how to find and see these glorious birds.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in the Common Kingfisher.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

New Titles



1) James, Matthew. Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin. 2017. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 284 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In 1905, eight men from the California Academy of Sciences set sail from San Francisco for a scientific collection expedition in the Galapagos Islands, and by the time they were finished in 1906, they had completed one of the most important expeditions in the history of both evolutionary and conservation science. These scientists collected over 78,000 specimens during their time on the islands, validating the work of Charles Darwin and laying the groundwork for foundational evolution texts like Darwin's Finches. Despite its significance, almost nothing has been written on this voyage, lost amongst discussion of Darwin's trip on the Beagle and the writing of David Lack.
     In Collecting Evolution, author Matthew James finally tells the story of the 1905 Galapagos expedition. James follows these eight young men aboard the Academy to the Galapagos and back, and reveals the reasons behind the groundbreaking success they had. A current Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, James uses his access to unpublished writings and photographs to provide unprecedented insight into the expedition. We learn the voyagers' personal stories, and how, for all the scientific progress that was made, just as much intense personal drama unfolded on the trip. This book shares a watershed moment in scientific history, crossed with a maritime adventure. There are four tangential suicides and controversies over credit and fame. Collecting Evolution also explores the personal lives and scientific context that preceded this voyage, including what brought Darwin to the Galapagos on the Beagle voyage seventy years earlier. James discusses how these men thought of themselves as "collectors" before they thought of themselves as scientists, and the implications this had on their approach and their results.
     In the end, the voyage of the Academy proved to be crucial in the development of evolutionary science as we know it. It is the longest expedition in Galapagos history, and played a critical role in cementing Darwin's legacy. Collecting Evolution brings this extraordinary story of eight scientists and their journey to life.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in the history of scientific exploration.


2) Smalley, Andrea L.. Wild by Nature: North American Animals Confront Colonization. 2017.  Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 334 pages. Price: $49.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the time Europeans first came to the New World until the closing of the frontier, the benefits of abundant wild animals―from beavers and wolves to fish, deer, and bison―appeared as a recurring theme in colonizing discourses. Explorers, travelers, surveyors, naturalists, and other promoters routinely advertised the richness of the American faunal environment and speculated about the ways in which animals could be made to serve their colonial projects. In practice, however, American animals proved far less malleable to colonizers’ designs. Their behaviors constrained an English colonial vision of a reinvented and rationalized American landscape.
     In Wild by Nature, Andrea L. Smalley argues that Anglo-American authorities’ unceasing efforts to convert indigenous beasts into colonized creatures frequently produced unsettling results that threatened colonizers’ control over the land and the people. Not simply acted upon by being commodified, harvested, and exterminated, wild animals were active subjects in the colonial story, altering its outcome in unanticipated ways. These creatures became legal actors―subjects of statutes, issues in court cases, and parties to treaties―in a centuries-long colonizing process that was reenacted on successive wild animal frontiers.
     Following a trail of human–animal encounters from the seventeenth-century Chesapeake to the Civil War–era southern plains, Smalley shows how wild beasts and their human pursuers repeatedly transgressed the lines lawmakers drew to demarcate colonial sovereignty and control, confounding attempts to enclose both people and animals inside a legal frame. She also explores how, to possess the land, colonizers had to find new ways to contain animals without destroying the wildness that made those creatures valuable to English settler societies in the first place. Offering fresh perspectives on colonial, legal, environmental, and Native American history, Wild by Nature reenvisions the familiar stories of early America as animal tales.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in American environmental history.