Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Title

      Rozzi, Ricardo et al. Multi-Ethnic Bird Guide of the Sub-Antarctic Forests of South America. 2010. University of North Texas Press. Hardbound: 235 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: The sub-Antarctic forests of South America are the world’s southernmost forested ecosystems. The birds have sung in these austral forests for millions of years; the Yahgan and Mapuche peoples have handed down their bird stories from generation to generation for hundreds of years.
     In Multi-ethnic Bird Guide of the Sub-Antarctic Forests of South America, Ricardo Rozzi and his collaborators present a unique combination of bird guide and cultural ethnography. The book includes entries on fifty bird species of southern Chile and Argentina, among them the Magellanic Woodpecker, Rufous-Legged Owl, Ringed Kingfisher, Buff-Necked Ibis, Giant Hummingbird, and Andean Condor. Each bird is named in Yahgan, Mapudungun, Spanish, English, and scientific nomenclature, followed by a description, full color photographs, the bird’s distribution map, habitat and lifestyle, and its history in the region.
     Each entry is augmented further with indigenous accounts of the bird in history and folklore. Two audio CDs (included) orient the reader with the birdcalls and their names in four languages, followed by numerous narratives of Yahgan and Mapuche stories about the birds translated directly from interviews with elders of both communities.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in ethno-ornithology and/or Neotropical birds. Birders will find the recordings of bird calls useful (each species name is announced on the CD).

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Title

     Harasewych, M.G. and Fabio Moretzsohn. The Book of Shells: A Life Size Guide to Identifying and Classifying Six Hundred Seashells. 2010. University of Chicago Press. 656 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Shells are the external skeletons of mollusks, an ancient and diverse phylum of invertebrates that are in the earliest fossil record of multicellular life over 500 million years ago. There are over 100,000 kinds of recorded mollusks, and some estimate that there are over a million more that have yet to be discovered. Some breathe air, others live in fresh water, but most live in the ocean. They range in size from a grain of sand to a beach ball and in weight from a few grams to several hundred pounds. And in this lavishly illustrated volume, they finally get their full due.
     The Book of Shells offers a visually stunning and scientifically engaging guide to six hundred of the most intriguing mollusk shells, each chosen to convey the range of shapes and sizes that occur across a range of species. Each shell is reproduced here at its actual size, in full color, and is accompanied by an explanation of the shell’s range, distribution, abundance, habitat, and operculum—the piece that protects the mollusk when it’s in the shell. Brief scientific and historical accounts of each shell and related species include fun-filled facts and anecdotes that broaden its portrait.
     The Matchless Cone, for instance, or Conus cedonulli, was one of the rarest shells collected during the eighteenth century. So much so, in fact, that a specimen in 1796 was sold for more than six times as much as a painting by Vermeer at the same auction. But since the advent of scuba diving, this shell has become far more accessible to collectors—though not without certain risks. Some species of Conus produce venom that has caused more than thirty known human deaths.
     The Zebra Nerite, the Heart Cockle, the Indian Babylon, the Junonia, the Atlantic Thorny Oyster—shells from habitats spanning the poles and the tropics, from the highest mountains to the ocean’s deepest recesses, are all on display in this definitive work.
RECOMMENDATION: Shell collectors will want this book!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Title

     Reynolds, Mike D. Falling Stars: A Guide to Meteors and Meteorites (Second Edition, Revised and Updated). 2010. Stackpole Books. Paperback: 150 pages. Price: $16.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Mike Reynolds’ guide to meteors and meteorites is revised and updated to include the latest information about meteor study and sightings. The book covers the basics of observing, studying, and collecting meteors and meteorites, appealing to a range of readers, from the amateur astronomer to the aspiring meteorite collector. Included are helpful tables and references, such as a list of yearly meteor showers and a directory of meteorite ­dealers.
RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction on the subject.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Not too many birders in North America are familiar with the British birding publication titled: BIRDING WORLD. It is published monthly and bills itself as: "Europe's premier monthly magazine for keen birdwatchers."  I agree and I thought I would share this month's (July 2010) contents with you:

Frontispage: Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus), East Yorkshire, June 2004 (Tony Collinson)
Bird News: June 2010
Western Palearctic News
The Marmora's Warbler in Gwent  Tim Hutton
The Barolo Shearwater on Lundy  Chris Townsend
Identification of Fea's, Desertas and Zino's Petrels at sea  Hadoram Shirihai, Vincent Bretagnolle and Francis Zino (Useful for pelagic trips off the Atlantic coast of North America.)

     You can subscribe to the publication here:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reprinted Title

Goodall, Jane. In the Shadow of Man. 1971(2010). Mariner Books. Paperback: 250 pages. Price: $15.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: World-renowned primatologist, conservationist, and humanitarian Dr. Jane Goodall's account of her life among the wild chimpanzees of Gombe is one of the most enthralling stories of animal behavior ever written. Her adventure began when the famous anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey suggested that a long-term study of chimpanzees in the wild might shed light on the behavior of our closest living relatives. Accompanied by only her mother and her African assistants, she set up camp in the remote Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in Tanzania. For months the project seemed hopeless; out in the forest from dawn until dark, she had but fleeting glimpses of frightened animals. But gradually she won their trust and was able to record previously unknown behavior, such as the use--and even the making-- of tools, until then believed to be an exclusive skill of man. As she came to know the chimps as individuals, she began to understand their complicated social hierarchy and observed many extraordinary behaviors, which have forever changed our understanding of the profound connection between humans and chimpanzees. This edition has a new preface by Goodall and a foreword by Richard Wrangham.

RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in primate biology and/or the career of Jane Goodall.

Recent Title

X) Zwickel, Fred C. and James F. Bendell. Blue Grouse: Their Biology and Natural History. 2004. NRC Research Press (Canada). Paperback: 284 pages. Price: $69.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: This monograph is about the "blue" grouse: Dusky Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) and Sooty Grouse (D. fuliginosus). Designed as a reference work, it documents and reviews much of what is known about the biology and natural history of this bird. It is based primarily on our published and unpublished long-term studies in British Columbia and elsewhere, and on the studies of others in various parts of the bird's range. Part 1 is principally introductory, describing some of our approaches and introducing the principal studies and study areas on which the book is based. Part 2 provides background to the bird, e.g., its taxonomy, evolution, and the environment in which it lives. Physical attributes, e.g., its morphology, reproduction, and food habits are examined in Part 3. Part 4 is devoted to individual and collective behaviours, a field of study that we feel has important implications to populations. Lastly, Part 5 documents the principal population parameters of this grouse and identifies some of what is known about its predators and diseases, agents potentially important to prey populations.
RECOMMENDATION: For those interested in the biology of these two grouse species. This title is available here:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Title

Tobin, Mitch. Endangered: Biodiversity on the Brink. 2010. Fulcrum. Hardbound: 467 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Since 1973, the Endangered Species Act has served as our nation's legislative ark for imperiled wildlife. But our toughest and most controversial environmental law has only recovered a handful of the more than 1,300 species under its protection. In Endangered, award-winning journalist Mitch Tobin uses firsthand accounts to show why so many species are at risk of extinction.
     For nearly seven years, Tobin reported from the front lines of Endangered Species Act battles. He crisscrossed the Southwest-our hottest, driest, fastest-growing region-in search of wildlife driven to the brink of extinction and solutions to the crisis. Tobin discovered that this region, with its urban sprawl, wasteful water use, and vulnerability to climate change, provides a snapshot of the issues facing species throughout the world. Yet in one of the continent's hot spots for biodiversity, Tobin also found compelling examples of collaboration. With these examples in mind, he advocates a set of innovative policies that can preserve the species and wild places that sustain us all.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in endangered species, especially in the southwestern USA.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Title

Dolin, Eric Jay. Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. 2010. W.W. Norton. Hardbound: 443 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: From the best-selling author of Leviathan comes this sweeping narrative of one of America’s most historically rich industries. As Henry Hudson sailed up the broad river that would one day bear his name, he grew concerned that his Dutch patrons would be disappointed in his failure to find the fabled route to the Orient. What became immediately apparent, however, from the Indians clad in deer skins and “good furs” was that Hudson had discovered something just as tantalizing.
     The news of Hudson’s 1609 voyage to America ignited a fierce competition to lay claim to this uncharted continent, teeming with untapped natural resources. The result was the creation of an American fur trade, which fostered economic rivalries and fueled wars among the European powers, and later between the United States and Great Britain, as North America became a battleground for colonization and imperial aspirations.
      In Fur, Fortune, and Empire, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin chronicles the rise and fall of the fur trade of old, when the rallying cry was “get the furs while they last.” Beavers, sea otters, and buffalos were slaughtered, used for their precious pelts that were tailored into extravagant hats, coats, and sleigh blankets. To read Fur, Fortune, and Empire then is to understand how North America was explored, exploited, and settled, while its native Indians were alternately enriched and exploited by the trade. As Dolin demonstrates, fur, both an economic elixir and an agent of destruction, became inextricably linked to many key events in American history, including the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812, as well as to the relentless pull of Manifest Destiny and the opening of the West.
     This work provides an international cast beyond the scope of any Hollywood epic, including Thomas Morton, the rabble-rouser who infuriated the Pilgrims by trading guns with the Indians; British explorer Captain James Cook, whose discovery in the Pacific Northwest helped launch America’s China trade; Thomas Jefferson who dreamed of expanding the fur trade beyond the Mississippi; America’s first multimillionaire John Jacob Astor, who built a fortune on a foundation of fur; and intrepid mountain men such as Kit Carson and Jedediah Smith, who sliced their way through an awe inspiring and unforgiving landscape, leaving behind a mythic legacy still resonates today.
     Concluding with the virtual extinction of the buffalo in the late 1800s, Fur, Fortune, and Empire is an epic history that brings to vivid life three hundred years of the American experience, conclusively demonstrating that the fur trade played a seminal role in creating the nation we are today.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting history of the fur trade in North America.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Title

Gill, Brian. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand (fourth edition). 2010. Te Papa Press. Paperback: 501 pages. Price: about $73.00 U.S.(plus shipping).

SUMMARY: Greatly revised and expanded, the new edition of this highly respected guide is the must-have reference for birds in the New Zealand region – including Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica.
      Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand provides details of the nomenclature, taxonomy, classification, status, and distribution (current, historical, and fossil) of every known living and extinct species of New Zealand bird. For the first time, it also includes complete synonymies. More than fifty birds have been added to the new edition, along with thorough bibliographic references, updated maps, a list of Māori bird names, and a full index. It can be ordered here:¤cy=NZD&language=english&productid=1012635&productname=Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone interested in the birds of New Zealand!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Title

     Kirwan, Guy, Arturo Kirkconnell and Mike Flieg. A Birdwatchers' Guide to Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and The Caymans. 2010. Prion Ltd. Paperback: 198 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: This guide covers the Greater Antilles, which comprises five groups of islands and six countries. From Cuba, with about 360 species, to the Cayman Islands with just over 220 species, the Greater Antilles have recorded just over 550 species and this total contains more than 100 single island endemics and many more restricted range species making these islands a very attractive proposition to the visiting birder. The site accounts have details of location, birding strategy, accommodation and, of course, the birds. More than 80 sites are detailed, many with accompanying maps. A full species lists shows exactly what has been seen in each country, and the selective list helps to target the best places to visit. As well as covering the very best birding sites, the authors have also tried to include some locations close to main holiday centres used by birders with families. Available from Buteo Books (USA) here:
and from NHBS (UK) here:
RECOMMENDATION: A very useful birding guide to the region.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Titles

1) Fitter, Julian. Bateman Field Guide to Wild New Zealand. 2010. David Bateman Ltd. Paperback: 276 pages. Price: about $24.00 U.S. (plus shipping).

SUMMARY: At last a single field guide that covers New Zealand's plants, birds, insects and animals for visitors and New Zealanders interested in this country's natural history. When author Julian Fitter first visited New Zealand he was amazed at the number of field guides to birds, plants, insects, marine life and to specific locations - alpine, forest, seashore. But for the traveller not wanting to cart around a library-shelf of books there was no single volume that described the major and most interesting species covering all NZ's flora and fauna. As author of a natural history field guide to the Galapagos, he set about compiling such a book for New Zealand. The result is a small format, full colour guidebook packed with information on all the species that either are most important, or most obvious to those touring the country covering birds, insects, reptiles, marine mammals, land mammals, trees and shrubs, vines and epiphytes, herbs, ferns, grasses, mosses and lichens as well as a brief survey of New Zealand's varied habitats and fascinating geological history, including major geothermal areas. Over 600 species are described described in detail, with accompanying information on habitat and a full colour photograph and organised in such as way as to make identification as easy as possible.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to the flora and fauna of New Zealand. I wish it had range maps though! The British version is called: Field Guide to the Wildlife of New Zealand. Available from here:

2) Honkala, Juha and Seppo Niiranen. A Birdwatching Guide to South-East Brazil. 2010. Portal Do Bosque. Paperback: 416 pages. Price: about $44.00 U.S.(plus shipping).

SUMMARY: The site descriptions include information on some 50 excellent birdwatching sites throughout South-East Brazil with accurate directions on how-to-get-there, details of what to see and expect, plus important information on conditions. In addition, the book includes illustrations of 558 species.
     The species accounts include all the detail necessary for field identification of the 471 species recorded in the Agulhas Negras area, in the heart of South-East Brazil, plus scientific and common names in English and Portuguese, size, voice descriptions, subspecies, habitat, distribution and status in the area. Each species is illustrated with a high quality, full colour photograph. Range maps show the birds' distribution in Brazil. A comprehensive species list of South-East Brazil, bibliography and a list of useful addresses and websites completes the volume.
RECOMMENDATION: A useful photographic guide for the region. The title is available here:


Friday, July 9, 2010

New Title

      Finkel, David. The Good Soldiers. 2010. Picador. Paperback: 319 pages. Price: $15.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. It became known as "the surge." Among those called to carry it out were the young, optimistic army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, the battalion nicknamed the Rangers. About to head to a vicious area of Baghdad, they decided the difference would be them.

     Fifteen months later, the soldiers returned home — forever changed. The chronicle of their tour is gripping, devastating, and deeply illuminating for anyone with an interest in human conflict. With The Good Soldiers, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Finkel has produced an eternal story — not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.
RECOMMENDATION: An award winning look at the Iraq war.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Title

Weber, John W.. A Review of Birds of Washington (Wahl et al. 2005) and Supplement to Birds of Southeastern Washington ( Weber and Larrison 1977). 2010. Buteo Books. Paperback: 109 pages. Price: $22.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: A review and critique of Birds of Washington: Status and Distribution edited by Terence R. Wahl, Bill Tweit and Steven G. Mlodinow (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2005). Weber places particular importance on specimen records and is critical of Wahl et als uneven citation of the literature on Washington’s avifauna. The Supplement to Weber and Larrison’s Birds of Southeastern Washington (1977) reports on fieldwork in the Blue Mountains and updates to the species accounts from 1977 to 1984. The valuable discussion of taxonomic issues includes a critique of Bell’s 1996 paper on Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls. Included are reprints of five papers by Weber which originally appeared in Continental Birdlife and the Murrelet. Available from Buteo Books here:
RECOMMENDATION: Weber corrects errors of his work, among other things, that appeared in Wahl et al.. The reprints and the supplement might be useful to birders in southeastern Washington. The original Birds of Southeastern Washington can be found in the used book market for $15.00+ U.S.


1) Cartron, Jean-Luc E. (editor). Raptors of New Mexico. 2010. University of New Mexico Press. Hardbound: 710 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: No book has ever before specifically focused on the birds of prey of New Mexico. Both Florence Bailey (1928) and J. Stokley Ligon (1961) published volumes on the birds of New Mexico, but their coverage of raptors was somewhat limited. In the ensuing years a great deal of new information has been collected on these mighty hunters' distribution, ecology, and conservation, including in New Mexico.
     The book begins with a history of the word "raptor." The order of Raptatores, or Raptores, was first used to classify birds of prey in the early nineteenth century, derived from the Latin word raptor, one who seizes by force. The text then includes the writings of thirty-seven contributing authors who relate their observations on these regal species.
     For example, Joe Truett recounts the following in the chapter on the Swainson's Hawk:
"From spring to fall each year at the Jornada Caves in the Jornada del Muerto, Swainson's hawks assemble daily to catch bats. The bats exit the caves--actually lava tubes--near sundown. The hawks swoop in, snatch bats from the air, and eat them on the wing."
     Originally from France, Jean-Luc Cartron has lived and worked on several continents, finding his passion in the wide-open spaces of New Mexico. He became fascinated by the birds of prey and has studied their ecology and conservation for nearly twenty years.
     Raptors of New Mexico will provide readers with a comprehensive treatment of all hawks, eagles, kites, vultures, falcons, and owls breeding or wintering in New Mexico, or simply migrating through the state. This landmark study is also beautifully illustrated with more than six hundred photographs, including the work of more than one hundred photographers, and more than twenty species distribution maps.
     Jean-Luc E. Cartron (M.D., 1991, University of Paris Val de Marne, France; and Ph.D., 1995, Biology, University of New Mexico) is a research assistant professor at UNM and the director of the Drylands Institute New Mexico office. He has written numerous articles on raptor ecology and is the editor of Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Conservation in Northern Mexico.
7.5 x 10 inches, 710 pages, 744 color photographs, 8 halftones, 3 line illustrations, 54 maps.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for birders in New Mexico and for anyone with an interest in North American raptors!

Forthcoming Title

Bird Songs Bible by Les Beletsky (editor). Due out: November 2010. Price: $125.00 U.S.
See here:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Titles

     MacDonald D.W. and A.J. Loveridge (editors). Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. 2010. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 762 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: The editors utilize their 50 years of combined experience in professional engagement with the behavior and ecology of wild felids to draw together a unique network of the world's most respected and knowledgeable experts. For the first time, this inter-disciplinary research program is brought together within a single volume.
     Beginning with a complete account of all 36 felid species, there follow 8 comprehensive review chapters that span all the topics most relevant to felid conservation science, including evolution and systematics, felid form and function, genetic applications, behavioral ecology, management of species that come into conflict with people and control of international trade in felid species, conservation tools/techniques, ex situ management, and felid diseases. 19 detailed case studies then delve deeply into syntheses of the very best species investigations worldwide, written by all the leading figures in the field. These chapters portray the unique attributes of the wild felids, describe their fascinating (and conflicting) relationship with humans, and create an unparalleled platform for future research and conservation measures. A final chapter analyses the requirements of, and inter-disciplinary approaches to, practical conservation with cutting-edge examples of conservation science and action that go far beyond the cat family.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in wild cats.

      Scott, Graham. Essential Ornithology. 2010. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 162 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Essential Ornithology provides the reader with a concise but comprehensive introduction to the biology of birds, one of the most widely studied taxonomic groups. The book starts with the controversial question of the dinosaur origins of birds and their subsequent evolution. Development, anatomy, and physiology are then discussed followed by chapters devoted to avian reproduction, migration, ecology, and conservation. Sections dealing with aspects of bird/human relationships and bird conservation give the book an applied context.
     Drawing extensively upon the wider scientific literature, this engaging text places the results of classical studies of avian biology alongside the most recent scientific breakthroughs. Useful case studies are presented in a concise and engaging style with the student reader foremost in mind. Key points are highlighted and suggestions for guided reading and key references are included throughout.
RECOMMENDATION: A good but basic introduction to ornithology.