Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds

1) Crossley, Richard. The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds. 2011. Princeton University Press. Flexibound: 529 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: This stunningly illustrated book from acclaimed birder and photographer Richard Crossley revolutionizes field guide design by providing the first real-life approach to identification. Whether you are a beginner, expert, or anywhere in between, The Crossley ID Guide will vastly improve your ability to identify birds.
     Unlike other guides, which provide isolated individual photographs or illustrations, this is the first book to feature large, lifelike scenes for each species. These scenes--640 in all--are composed from more than 10,000 of the author's images showing birds 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, concise text. Each scene provides a wealth of detailed visual information that invites and rewards careful study, but the most important identification features can be grasped instantly by anyone.
     By making identification easier, more accurate, and more fun than ever before, The Crossley ID Guide will completely redefine how its users look at birds. Essential for all birders, it also promises to make new birders of many people who have despaired of using traditional guides.

*Revolutionary. This book changes field guide design to make you a better birder
*A picture says a thousand words. The most comprehensive guide: 640 stunning scenes created from        10,000 of the author's photographs
*Reality birding. Lifelike in-focus scenes show birds in their habitats, from near and far, and in all plumages and behaviors
*Teaching and reference. The first book to accurately portray all the key identification characteristics: size, shape, behavior, probability, and color
*Practice makes perfect. An interactive learning experience to sharpen and test field identification skills
*Bird like the experts. The first book to simplify birding and help you understand how to bird like the best
 *An interactive website-- expanded captions for the plates and species updates.

RECOMMENDATION: First of all this guide ISN'T a field guide, it's too big (bigger than The Sibley Guide to Birds (2000)) and unlike the Sibley 2000, it just covers the birds of eastern North America! The layout isn't in the traditional field guide style in which related/similar species are on the same page, so I wouldn't recommend it for beginning birders just starting to learn how to identify birds.
     Each photo plate is layered with birds up close and in the distance giving depth to the plates. They remind me of museum dioramas. The habitat settings in each plate are general good except for the marsh and sedge wrens ( the habitats for those species are reversed: the Marsh Wren should be in the cattails and the Sedge Wren should be in the grasses.) Also the Red-naped Sapsucker is shown with snowy mountains in the background. In most of its range the sapsucker is a summer bird and the snow should be long gone. The text is brief but useful like the Sibley guide. The color range maps look accurate.
     In the end, I would recommend this book for intermediate level birders who are learning to see birds as they actually appear in life and perhaps for advanced birders as a supplement to standard field guides. Three other books in the series are in the works: Western birds, British birds and a mystery guide.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


1) Sinclair, Ian and Peter Ryan. Birds of Africa: south of the Sahara (second edition). 2010. Struik Nature. Paperback: 767 pages. Price: GBP 29.99 ( $46.00 U.S.).

SUMMARY: This new edition of Birds of Africa south of the Sahara contains some 400 updated images along with fully revised text, capturing the latest information available. It provides unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume, and is the only book to describe and illustrate all the birds found in Africa south of the Sahara Desert (the Afrotropic Region), including Socotra, Pemba and islands in the Gulf of Guinea. Despite its exceptional coverage, this guide is compact enough to use in the field, and follows the standard field guide format, with texts and range maps appearing opposite the colour plates. With its extraordinary reach and coverage, this is a must-have volume for birding enthusiasts everywhere.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the birds of Africa, even if you have the first edition of this book!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Titles

1) Archibald, J. David. Extinction and Radiation: How the Fall of Dinosaurs Led to the Rise of Mammals. 2011. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 108 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: In the geological blink of an eye, mammals moved from an obscure group of vertebrates into a class of planetary dominance. Why? J. David Archibald's provocative study identifies the fall of dinosaurs as the factor that allowed mammals to evolve into the dominant tetrapod form.
     Archibald refutes the widely accepted single-cause impact theory for dinosaur extinction. He demonstrates that multiple factors—massive volcanic eruptions, loss of shallow seas, and extraterrestrial impact—likely led to their demise. While their avian relatives ultimately survived and thrived, terrestrial dinosaurs did not. Taking their place as the dominant land and sea tetrapods were mammals, whose radiation was explosive following nonavian dinosaur extinction.
     Archibald argues that because of dinosaurs, Mesozoic mammals changed relatively slowly for 145 million years compared to the prodigious Cenozoic radiation that followed. Finally out from under the shadow of the giant reptiles, Cenozoic mammals evolved into the forms we recognize today in a mere ten million years after dinosaur extinction.
     Extinction and Radiation is the first book to convincingly link the rise of mammals with the fall of dinosaurs. Piecing together evidence from both molecular biology and the fossil record, Archibald shows how science is edging closer to understanding exactly what happened during the mass extinctions near the K/T boundary and the radiation that followed.
RECOMMENDATION: This slim volume is for those with a technical interest in paleontology and/or mammalogy.

2) Nield, Ted. Incoming! Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Meteorite. 2011. Granta. Hardbound: 271 pages. Price: GBP 20.00 (about $32.48 U.S.).
SUMMARY: Astonishing new research suggests that 470 million years ago, a stupendous collision in the Asteroid Belt (whose debris is still falling today) bombarded the Earth with meteorites of all sizes. A revolutionary idea is emerging that the resulting ecological disturbance may have been responsible for the single greatest increase in biological diversity since the origin of complex life - the hitherto unexplained Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event.
     Introducing these fresh discoveries to a wider public for the first time, Ted Nield challenges the orthodox view that meteorite strikes are always bad news for life on Earth. He argues that one of the most widely known scientific theories - that dinosaurs were wiped out by a strike 65 million years ago - isn't the whole picture, and that the causes of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction (of which the dinosaurs' demise was a part) were much more varied and complex.
     Meteorites have been the stuff of legend throughout human history, interpreted as omens of doom or objects of power. But only in the eighteenth century, when the study of falling space debris became a science, were meteorites used to unlock the mysteries of our universe. Incoming! traces the history of meteorites from the first recorded strike to the video recordings made routinely today, showing how our interpretations have varied according to the age in which they fell, and how meteorite impacts were given fresh urgency with the advent of the atom bomb. Introducing a wealth of fascinating characters alongside extraordinary new research, Ted Nield has written the perfect introduction to the science and history of 'the falling sky'.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting introduction on the subject of the effects that meteorite impacts (both literally and figuratively) have had on the Earth.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Titles

1) Alford, David V.. Plant Pests (New Naturalist series). 2011. Collins U.K.. Paperback: 500 pages. Price: 30 GBP (about $48.71 U.S.).

SUMMARY: Ever since man first cultivated plants and grew crops, insects, mites and other creatures have risen to prominence as pests, but it is only throughout the last two centuries that we have come to study them in any detail.
     Whereas in the past, emphasis has mainly been placed on ways to protect cultivated plants from attack or damage, nowadays our over-reliance on pesticides has been replaced by a far more enlightened approach to plant protection. Though chemical pesticides still have a role to play, environmental aspects and non-chemical means of pest control have become equally, if not more, important. This requires a greater appreciation of ecosystems, coupled with a greater understanding of individual pests, including their habits and their role in the environment.
     Drawing on a lifetime of experience, David V. Alford provides a fascinating account of the natural history of the insects and mites that inhabit our farms and gardens, and feed on our cultivated plants. He shows how and why the different operations of cultivation affect their world, and why plant pests should not be viewed as different from other wildlife. Coverage of pests includes aliens, and although emphasis is placed mainly on arable and horticultural field crops, pests of protected crops - both edible and non-edible - are also included. Details of pest life cycles, status, distribution and the damage they cause are given, and natural enemies of pests are examined. The author also explores the impact of pesticides, climate change and evolving crop management practices.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those that collect titles in the New Naturalist series and/or have an interest in garden pests.

2) Baker, J.A. (with introduction by Mark Cocker and Diary edited by John Fanshawe). The Peregrine (The Hill of Summer & Diaries): The Complete Works of J.A. Baker. 2010. Collins U.K.. Hardbound: 416 pages. Price: GBP 20.00 (about $32.48 U.S.).

SUMMARY: Reissue of J. A. Baker’s extraordinary classic of British nature writing.
     Despite the association of peregrines with the wild, outer reaches of the British Isles, The Peregrine is set on the flat marshes of the Essex coast, where J. A. Baker spent a long winter looking and writing about the visitors from the uplands – peregrines that spend the winter hunting the huge flocks of pigeons and waders that share the desolate landscape with them. Including original diaries from which The Peregrine was written and its companion volume The Hill of Summer, this is a beautiful compendium of lyrical nature writing at its absolute best. Such luminaries as Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane, Ted Hughes and Andrew Motion have cited this as one of the most important books in 20th Century nature writing, and the bestselling author Mark Cocker has provided an introduction on the importance of Baker, his writings and the diaries – creating the essential volume of Baker's writings.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the Peregrine Falcon and/or classic natural history writing.


1) Angehr, George R. and Robert Dean. The Birds of Panama: A Field Guide. 2010. Cornell University Press. Paperback: 456 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: The isthmus of Panama, where North and South America meet, hosts more bird species than all of North America. More accessible than ever to birdwatchers and other ecotourists, the country has become a premier neotropical birding and nature tourism destination in recent years. The Birds of Panama will be an essential tool for the new generation of birders traveling in search of Panama's spectacular avifauna.
     This user-friendly, portable, and affordable identification guide features:
• large color illustrations of more than 900 species.
• the first range maps published to show the distribution of Panama's birds.
• concise text that describes field marks for identification, as well as habitat, behavior, and vocalizations.
• range maps and species accounts face illustration pages for quick, easy reference.
• the inclusion of North American migrants and seabirds, as well as female and juvenile plumage variations.
• an up-to-date species list for the country that reflects recent additions, taxonomic splits, and other changes in classification.

Panama's unique geography, small size, and varied habitats make it possible to see a vast diversity of birds within a short time. Its western and central areas harbor representatives of species found in Central America; species characteristic of South America may be found in the east. In the winter, birds from northern climes are commonly found in Panama as migrants. This is the one field guide the novice or experienced birder needs to identify birds in the field in Panama's diverse habitats.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for birders visiting or are from Panama. Robert Dean is working on a field guide to the birds of northern Central America.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Title

1) Farndon, John. Atlas of Oceans: An Ecological Survey of Underwater Life. 2011. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: A tragedy is playing out beneath the surface of the world's bodies of marine waters, one that began long before the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Although many books have explored the environmental problems being faced on land, Atlas of Oceans is the first book for a general audience that examines how creatures of the marine environment are if anything more vulnerable than their land-based counterparts.
     Readers are introduced to the dazzling, diverse array of creatures that inhabit the oceans and seas, and to the nature of the problems they face. Special features focus on the threats to particular animals, plants, and habitats, as well as on specific issues like overfishing, global warming, and pollution. The book also includes success stories, recommendations for what can be done to preserve ocean ecosystems, and a complete rundown of the most endangered species of marine life.
     Beautifully illustrated, packed with maps and diagrams, and containing up-to-the-minute data on the status of endangered marine species, Atlas of Oceans is a celebration of Earth's vibrant and awe-inspiring oceans and seas and an urgent call to action to protect one of our planet's most vital resources.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction on the subject.

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Title

1) Gwynne, John A., Robert S. Ridgely, Guy Tudor and Martha Argel. Wildlife Conservation Society Birds of Brazil: The Pantanal and Cerrado of Central Brazil. 2011. Cornell University Press. Paperback: 322 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Brazil, the fifth largest nation in the world, is one of the planet's richest places for avian diversity and endemism. With the Birds of Brazil field guide series, the Wildlife Conservation Society brings together a top international team to do justice to the incredible diversity of Brazil's avifauna. This first guide of the planned five-volume series features the 743 bird species of the Pantanal and Cerrado regions of Central Brazil.
     The sprawling Pantanal plain, one of the world's most famed birding sites, is a seasonally flooded wetland boasting both impressive concentrations of large waterbirds and species such as the Toco Toucan, Hyacinth Macaw, Golden-collared Macaw, and endemic Blaze-winged Parakeets. The Cerrado is a distinctive Brazilian habitat that is the planet's biologically richest savanna.
     This compact modern field guide's unparalleled color artwork throughout, identification points, and range map for each species enable easy identification of all the birds normally found in these vibrant and critically important areas of Brazil. With 116 threatened species encompassing 25 percent of South America's threatened birds, Brazil has an imperative to conserve its birds and unique habitats that begins with their appreciation and identification. Thus, the species accounts are coupled with an introductory chapter on the region's unique environments and pressing conservation challenges. This practical and portable guide is an indispensable companion to those visiting Brazil's glorious natural areas of the Pantanal and Cerrado.
RECOMMENDATION: Eight artists did the artwork with Guy Tudor doing the passerines ( taken from his earlier works) and the other artists doing the non-passerines. Anyone with an interest in the birds of Brazil will want this guide!


1) Kells, Val and Kent Carpenter. A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes: From Maine To Texas. 2011. Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback: 448 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes is a comprehensive, current, and accurate identification guide to the more than 1,000 nearshore and offshore fishes that live in brackish and marine waters from Maine to Texas.
     Val Kells and Kent Carpenter bring decades of experience to this project. With Kells' detailed, vivid illustrations and Carpenter's deep knowledge of biology, taxonomy, and nomenclature, this book captures the stunning diversity of species along America's eastern shores. Key features of the book include:

• more than 1,000 full-color illustrations, set side-by-side with descriptions of each fish
• details about the biology of each species
• habitat, distribution, and size information

     Reliable and up-to-date, A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes is the most complete book ever published on East and Gulf Coast fishes—perfect for boat, home, or classroom. Its beautiful design and accessible format make it an ideal guide for fishermen, divers, students, scientists, naturalists, and fish enthusiasts alike.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those interested in the marine fishes of eastern North America. Val Kells's artwork highlights this book! Sample pages can be seen at the author's website here:
This title is also available:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

3-D field guides in our future?

I've been wondering what the future holds for the field guide. The thing I think that's missing from traditional field guides are 3-D images. So I began to visualize what an on-line 3-D field guide would look like. Here are some samples currently available:
Aves 3-D:  A three dimensional database of avian skeletal morphology:

Zoological Museum Amsterdam Type specimens in 3D

Well, it's a start!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bookselling Article

Saw this article about the current state of bookselling in the U.S.A. in today's USA Today:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


1) Allen, Sarah G., Joe Mortenson, and Sophie Webb. Field Guide to Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast: Baja, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia. 2011. University of California Press. Paperback: 569 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: From gray whales giving birth in the lagoons of Baja California to sea otters nestled in kelp beds off California to killer whales living around Vancouver Island—this spectacular stretch of the Pacific Coast boasts one of the most abundant populations of sea mammals on earth. This handy interpretive field guide describes the 45 whales, dolphins, seals, and otters that are resident in, migrate through, or forage from Baja in Mexico to British Columbia in Canada. The guide’s rich species accounts provide details on identification, natural history, distribution, and conservation. They also tell where and how these fascinating animals can best be viewed. Introductory chapters give general information on the ecology, evolution, and taxonomy of marine mammals; on the Pacific Coast’s unique environment; and on the relationship between marine mammals and humans from native cultures to today. Featuring many color illustrations, photographs, drawings, and maps, this up-to-date guide illuminates a fascinating group of animals and reveals much about their mysterious lives in the ocean.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone interested in marine mammals! This book is packed with lots of information about the species covered and on marine mammals in general. The artwork by Sophie Webb highlights this book! A real bargain too!

New Titles

    The Golden Eagle: Second Edition                                                                              
1) Watson, Jeff. The Golden Eagle (Second Edition). 2011. Yale University Press/ Poyser. Hardbound: 448 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: A majestic and awe-inspiring bird, the golden eagle flies throughout the northern hemisphere and is one of the largest birds of prey in North America. Among ornithologists and other scientists today, the species attracts great interest and extensive research. The golden eagle has also captured the imaginations of everyday people throughout history, playing various symbolic roles and appearing in the folklore of societies around the globe.
     This all-encompassing book presents full current information on the biology and ecology of golden eagles. It includes both original research by raptor expert Jeff Watson and a synthesis of the findings of an array of international scientists. Chapters on such further topics as the cultural importance of golden eagles, conservation issues, and predation on livestock, along with more than 70 superb depictions of the raptors and their landscapes, combine to make this volume the definitive account of the golden eagle. After Watson passed away in September 2007, the book was finished with the help of Des Thompson and Helen Riley.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone interested in Golden Eagles! People interested in other raptors will like this book also.

2) Lumpkin, Susan and John Seidensticker. Rabbits: The Animal Answer Guide. 2011. Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback: 235 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: To some, rabbits are simply a docile pet for the classroom or home. To others, they are the cute animals munching on clover or the pests plaguing vegetable gardens. Whatever your interest, in Rabbits: The Animal Answer Guide you will discover that they are a more complex group than you might have first imagined. Lumpkin and Seidensticker take these floppy-eared creatures out of the cabbage patch and into the wild, answering 95 frequently asked questions about these familiar and fascinating animals.
     With informative photographs and an accessible format, Rabbits: The Animal Answer Guide is the one resource you will need to learn about rabbits' anatomy and physiology, evolutionary history, ecology, behavior, and their relationships with humans. Lumpkin and Seidensticker also talk about conservation, because while rabbits may breed like, well, rabbits, several species are among the most endangered animals on Earth.
RECOMMENDATION: A good general overview on rabbits.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Title

1) Meinwald, Jerrold and John G. Hildebrand (editors). Science and the Educated American: A Core Component of Liberal Education. 2010. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Paperback: 266 pages. Price: $6.00 U.S. (plus $1.00 U.S. for shipping and handling).

SUMMARY: This volume explores whether American colleges and universities are providing students with the foundation necessary for lifelong scientific learning. Jerrold Meinwald, co-editor of the volume and the Goldwin Smith Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at Cornell University, suggests that "we need a widespread reexamination and reevaluation of the contents as well as the methods of presentation employed in science courses designed to be of interest and value for all."
      The volume targets university administrators and faculty members who are interested in assessing and improving their institutions' curricula. In particular, detailed descriptions of five university science courses highlight innovative methods for conveying complex science information to non-science majors.
       Several common themes emerge in the volume:
*Without a basic level of scientific literacy, the public cannot rely on even the best science journalism and communications to equip them with the ability to make informed decisions about science issues.
*Science courses belong in the liberal arts curriculum for the benefit of both science and non-science majors.
*Teaching science should convey the wonders and rewards of science but also the limits of science and the  dangers of misapplying it.
*Science and the humanities have much more in common than is generally appreciated.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in science education. The publication can be ordered or downloaded here:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Forthcoming Title

1) Kaufman, Kenn. Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback (vinyl cover): 448 pages. Price: $21.00 U.S. DUE OUT: 19 APRIL 2011.
SUMMARY: Birders can memorize hundreds of details and still not be able to identify birds if they don’t really understand what’s in front of them.Today birders have access to almost too much information, and their attempts to identify birds can be drowned out by excess detail. The all-new Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding takes a different approach, clarifying the basics and providing a framework for learning about each group. Overall principles of identification are explained in clear language, and ten chapters on specific groups of birds show how these principles can be applied in practice. Anyone with a keen interest in identifying birds will find that this book makes the learning process more effective and enjoyable, and that truly understanding what we see and hear can make birding more fun.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dinosaur Wars

These two titles are by author Thomas P. Hopp:
1) Dinosaurs Wars. 2001(revised  2004). iUniverse. Paperback: 371 pages. Price: $21.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: A U.S. space probe discovers a 65 million-year-old derelict outpost at the moon's south pole. Now the owners of the moonbase are returning to reclaim their home world-our world. In Montana, wildlife biologist Chase Armstrong and rancher's daughter Kit Daniels survive attacks by T-Rex and deadly Megaraptors to find that they are at ground-zero, where the invaders' lost city lies buried under a mountain of sandstone. Deep in the underground catacombs, trapped by human-sized, intelligent carnivorous dinosaurs, they may be mankind's last hope for survival.

2) Dinosaur Wars: Counterattack. 2002. iUniverse. Paperback: 401 pages. Price: $21.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: War for possesion of the Earth has resumed. Soldiers in tanks and aircraft vie with intelligent, human-sized dinosaurs who have returned from space to reclaim their home world--OUR WORLD!

RECOMMENDATION: Think of these books as hybrids between Jurassic Park and Independence Day. Fans of dinosaurs will enjoy these books. These titles are available here:
You can visit the author's website here:

Alex and Me: The Movie

Saw this in the February 2011 issue of The Ornithological Newsletter:

"ALEX AND ME: THE MOVIE – Hello fellow bird lover! It is my great pleasure to announce the launch of a brand new website offering fans of Alex, the genius African Grey Parrot, a unique opportunity to take part in the motion picture adaptation of the New York Times bestseller “Alex & Me.”  The website (URL: was created by independent filmmakers working with the book’s author, Dr. Irene Pepperberg, to develop a screenplay based on her remarkable true story.  We want to promote a film about love and triumph, groundbreaking scientific research, and the journey of one woman to reveal the secrets of avian intelligence to the world.  This is your chance to help some young filmmakers make a dream come true and bring the story of Alex to the silver screen. The process of adapting a screenplay from a book requires immense amounts of research and financial resources, and we need your help.  For more information, visit the website.  If you would like to contact the writing team to request an interview or additional information about the project for a news article, contact Producer Joshua Dinner (EM:"