Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Title

1) Dial, Kenneth P., Neil Shubin, and Elizabeth L. Brainerd (editors). Great Transformations in Vertebrate Evolution. 2015. University of Chicago Press. Paperback: 424 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: How did flying birds evolve from running dinosaurs, terrestrial trotting tetrapods evolve from swimming fish, and whales return to swim in the sea? These are some of the great transformations in the 500-million-year history of vertebrate life. And with the aid of new techniques and approaches across a range of fields—work spanning multiple levels of biological organization from DNA sequences to organs and the physiology and ecology of whole organisms—we are now beginning to unravel the confounding evolutionary mysteries contained in the structure, genes, and fossil record of every living species.
     This book gathers a diverse team of renowned scientists to capture the excitement of these new discoveries in a collection that is both accessible to students and an important contribution to the future of its field. Marshaling a range of disciplines—from paleobiology to phylogenetics, developmental biology, ecology, and evolutionary biology—the contributors attack particular transformations in the head and neck, trunk, appendages such as fins and limbs, and the whole body, as well as offer synthetic perspectives. Illustrated throughout, Great Transformations in Vertebrate Evolution not only reveals the true origins of whales with legs, fish with elbows, wrists, and necks, and feathered dinosaurs, but also the relevance to our lives today of these extraordinary narratives of change.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious/technical interest in evolution.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                        Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman.

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: http://www.scilogs.com/maniraptora/birdbooker-report-382-3/

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Title

1) Leseberg, Nick & Iain Campbell. Birds and Animals of Australia's Top End: Darwin, Kakadu, Katherine, and Kununurra. 2015. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 272 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: One of the most amazing and accessible wildlife-watching destinations on earth, the “Top End” of Australia’s Northern Territory is home to incredible birds and animals—from gaudy Red-collared Lorikeets to sinister Estuarine Crocodiles and raucous Black Flying-foxes. With this lavishly illustrated photographic field guide, you will be able to identify the most common creatures and learn about their fascinating biology—from how Agile Wallaby mothers can pause their pregnancies to why Giant Frogs spend half the year buried underground in waterproof cocoons.
     The Top End stretches from the tropical city of Darwin in the north, to the savannas of Mataranka in the south, and southwest across the vast Victoria River escarpments to the Western Australian border. The region includes some of Australia’s most popular and impressive tourist destinations, such as Kakadu, Litchfield, Nitmiluk, and Gregory national parks, and is visited by more than two hundred thousand tourists every year.
     An essential field guide for anyone visiting the Top End, this book will vastly enhance your appreciation of the region’s remarkable wildlife. 
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to the wildlife of the region.

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Titles

1) Couzens, Dominic and David Nurney. Birds: ID Insights: Identifying the More Difficult Birds of Britain. 2014. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 272 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birds: ID Insights is ideal for birders of all levels. Its unique layout, which compares the plumages of similar pairs and groups of species, makes it perfect for identifying the more difficult birds found in Britain and other parts of northwestern Europe. It has more images showing how to age birds than any comparable guide, and its handy compact size makes it practical for taking out into the field.
      The book is based on a long-running series of identification features in BirdWatching magazine. Author Dominic Couzens and artist David Nurney have spent years compiling the field notes and artworks for this series, and here their efforts are drawn together and made complete in a single volume that is easy to carry into the field and practical for birders to use.
      In addition, they have expanded the species list from the magazine series and added many new birds, including the likes of Subalpine Warbler, Short-toed Lark, and Red-rumped Swallow. In total, the book covers more than 230 species, with easy-to-identify species such as Magpie and Kingfisher given minimal coverage so that the more difficult ID issues can be covered as fully as possible. 
RECOMMENDATION: I actually prefer The Helm Guide to Bird Identification, also published by Bloomsbury.
2) Oddie, Bill. Bill Oddie Unplucked: Columns, Blogs and Musings. 2015. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 224 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Bill Oddie has been the voice and face of birding broadcasting for more than three decades. In this new book, Bill has compiled and expanded a collection of his recent published musings about birds and bird-watching. Writing in his witty and inimitable style, Bill is sure to entertain and enthrall his many fans with this new book of thoughts and opinions on the world of natural history in Britain. 
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of Bill Oddie's writings might enjoy this book.
3) Woods, Sarah. On a Wing and a Prayer: One Woman's Adventure into the Heart of the Rainforest. 2015. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 272 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: When writer and intrepid traveler Sarah Woods set about discovering the jungles of Central and South America, her quest took her into some of the most remote tangles of vine-knotted jungles on the planet. In Panama's rain-soaked Chiriquí highlands, she navigated seemingly impassable trails with a machete to reach quetzals with resplendent jewel-tone plumage.
     Sarah sought the native wisdom of the indigenous Embera, deep in the Darien Jungle, in order to encounter the world's largest and most powerful birds of prey--the elusive harpy eagle. Using razor-sharp talons to hunt and kill sloths and monkeys with deadly precision, these mammoth, winged dinosaurs hide a lesser-known, softer side: devoting great care to raising their young for the first two years of their lives. Seldom seen in the wild, Sarah struggled to demystify the fear-riddled legends and superstitions that earned the harpy eagle its name from early explorers.
     Her voyage taught her much about the rich glories and mesmerizing spectacle of the natural world and also its challenges and dangers. She met the albino 'moon children' of Kuna Yala, swam in the Panama Canal, encountered left-wing guerrillas at the heart of Colombia's five-decade conflict, and witnessed Amazonian beliefs and customs surrounding shape-shifting and the jungle afterlife. Sarah survived landslides, crash landings, mammoth floods, and culture clashes in mysterious untrodden lands, learning much about aspects of herself from the incredible wildlife and tribal peoples she encountered--arguably her biggest journey.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoy travel writing you should enjoy this book.

4) Pérez-Lorente, Félix. Dinosaur Footprints and Trackways of La Rioja. 2015. Indiana University Press. Hardbound: 363 pages. Price: $85.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: During the Early Cretaceous, lakes, meandering streams, and flood plains covered the region where the current foothills of Rioja now exist. Today the area is known for its wine and for the dozens of sites where footprints and trackways of dinosaurs, amphibians, and even pterosaurs can be seen. The dinosaurs that lived here 120 million years ago left their footsteps imprinted in the mud and moist soil. Now fossilized in rock, they have turned Rioja into one of the most valuable dinosaur footprint sites in all of Europe. Félix Pérez-Lorente and his colleagues have published extensively on the region, mostly in Spanish-language journals. In this volume, Pérez-Lorente provides an up-to-date synthesis of that research in English. He offers detailed descriptions of the sites, footprints, and trackways, and explains what these prints and tracks can tell us about the animals who made them. 
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in Spanish paleontology.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                       Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: http://www.scilogs.com/maniraptora/birdbooker-report-381/

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New Titles

1) Abbott, John C.. Dragonflies of Texas: A Field Guide. 2015. University of Texas Press. Paperback: 448 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Dragonflies and damselflies (together known as Odonata) are among the most remarkably distinctive insects in their appearance and biology, and they have become some of the most popular creatures sought by avocational naturalists. Texas hosts 160 species of dragonflies, nearly half of the 327 species known in North America, making the state a particularly good place to observe dragonflies in their natural habitats.
     Dragonflies of Texas is the definitive field guide to these insects. It covers all 160 species with in situ photographs and detailed anatomical images as needed. Each species is given a two-page spread that includes photographs of both sexes and known variations when possible, key features, a distribution map, identification, discussion of similar species, status in Texas, habitat, seasonality, and general comments. Many of the groups also have comparative plates that show anatomically distinctive characteristics. In addition to the species accounts, John Abbott discusses dragonfly anatomy, life history, conservation, names, and photography. He also provides information on species that may eventually be discovered in Texas, state and global conservation rankings, seasonality of all species in chronological order, and additional resources and publications on the identification of dragonflies.  
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the dragonflies of Texas!

2) Hibbitts, Troy and Toby. Texas Lizards: A Field Guide. 2015. University of Texas Press. Paperback: 333 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: “Texas offers the opportunity to observe lizard diversity like no other part of the country,” writes Laurie J. Vitt in the foreword to Texas Lizards. From the moist eastern Piney Woods to the western deserts, lizards can be found in every part of Texas. The state has forty-five native and six naturalized species of lizards, almost half of the 115 species that live in the continental United States. Yet Texas lizards have not received full coverage in regional field guides, and no other guide dedicated solely to the state’s lizards has ever been published.
     Texas Lizards is a complete identification guide to all fifty-one native and established exotic lizard species. It offers detailed species accounts, range maps, and excellent color photographs (including regional, gender, and age variations for many species) to aid field identification. The authors, two of the state’s most knowledgeable herpetologists, open the book with a broad overview of lizard natural history, conservation biology, observation, and captive maintenance before providing a key to Texas lizards and accounts of the various lizard families and species. Appendices list species of questionable occurrence in Texas and nonestablished exotic species. Informational resources on Texas lizards, a map of Texas counties, a glossary, a bibliography, and indexes of common and scientific names round out the volume.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the lizards of Texas!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New Title

1) Lister-Kaye, John. Gods of the Morning: A Bird's-Eye View of a Changing World. 2015. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 294 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A celebration of birds that reflects a year in the wild, revealing how these amazing creatures embody our changing world, by one of Britain's foremost naturalists.
      Gods of the Morning
follows the year through the turning of the seasons at Aigas, the Highlands estate John Lister-Kaye has transformed into a world-renowned wildlife center. John's affection, wisdom and lyricism sings off every page, bringing the natural world around him to life: from the rookery filled with twenty-nine nests and distinct bird calls to descriptions of the winter morning light, from the wood mice and the squirrels preparing for winter to tracking a fox's path through the snow. In particular it brings John's lifelong love of birds—his gods of the morning—to the fore.
     In the Highland glens, bird numbers plummet as their food supplies—natural fruits and every kind of creeping, crawling, slithering or flying bug—begin to disappear. Not just the swallows and house martins have vanished from round the houses. Gone are the insect snatching wheatears, whinchats and stonechats from the hills, and redstarts and flycatchers have fled the woods. Pied wagtails no longer flicker across the lawns and sandpipers and grey wagtails have deserted the river banks. Farmland and hedgerow species have vanished in the night: the linnets, yellowhammers, and all the warblers have decamped from the thickets.
     By the first frosts the hills will have emptied down to a few hardy stalwarts such as the golden eagles, the raven and the irrepressible hooded crows. Silence settles across the land. The few species that are left frequent a changed world. Soon only the buzzards and wood pigeons will hang on in the woods and the coniferous forests will be host to flocks of chaffinches, tits, siskins, and crossbills passing through. 
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's other books you should enjoy this one.