Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Title

1) Muir, John. My First Summer in the Sierra. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 190 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: From the photographer who brought Thoreau's Walden and Cape Cod to life comes a new work combining classic literature with brand-new photography. This time, Scot Miller takes on the seminal work of John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra. The book details Muir's first extended trip to the Sierra Nevada in what is now Yosemite National Park, a landscape that entranced him immediately and had a profound effect on his life. The towering waterfalls, natural rock formations, and abundant plant and animal life helped Muir develop his views of the natural world, views that would eventually lead him to push for the creation of the national parks.

     Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the book's original publication by Houghton Mifflin Company, My First Summer in the Sierra is illustrated with Miller's stunning photographs, showcasing the dramatic landscape of the High Sierra plus John Muir's illustrations from the original edition and several previously unpublished illustrations from his 1911 manuscript. The publication of My First Summer in the Sierra inspired many to journey there, and this newly illustrated anniversary edition will surely inspire many more.
     This book is being published in collaboration with Yosemite Conservancy and, for each copy sold, Scot Miller is making a donation to Yosemite Conservancy.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the works of John Muir.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Title

1) Prothero, Donald R.. Catastrophes! Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters. 2011. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 326 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Devastating natural disasters have profoundly shaped human history, leaving us with a respect for the mighty power of the earth—and a humbling view of our future. Paleontologist and geologist Donald R. Prothero tells the harrowing human stories behind these catastrophic events.
     Prothero describes in gripping detail some of the most important natural disasters in history:
• the New Madrid, Missouri, earthquakes of 1811–1812 that caused church bells to ring in Boston
• the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people
• the massive volcanic eruptions of Krakatau, Mount Tambora, Mount Vesuvius, Mount St. Helens, and Nevado del Ruiz

     His clear and straightforward explanations of the forces that caused these disasters accompany gut-wrenching accounts of terrifying human experiences and a staggering loss of human life. Floods that wash out whole regions, earthquakes that level a single country, hurricanes that destroy everything in their path—all are here to remind us of how little control we have over the natural world. Dramatic photographs and eyewitness accounts recall the devastation wrought by these events, and the people—both heroes and fools—that are caught up in the earth's relentless forces.
     Eerie, fascinating, and often moving, these tales of geologic history and human fortitude and folly will stay with you long after you put the book down.
RECOMMENDATION: Unfortunately a VERY timely book! If you want to learn more about these disasters than just what's in the news headlines, this is the book for you.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bird Book News

Here are two bird book news items that might be of interest:

1) Want an autographed copy of the new Crossley guide that helps support the ABA:

2) An on-line version of Rafael Montes de Oca's Ensayo ornitologico de los troquilideos ó colibries de Mexico (Ornithological essay of the troquilideos birds or Hummingbirds of Mexico):


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recent Titles

1) Byersdorfer, Susan C. and Leslie J. Watson. Field Guide to Common Marine Fishes and Invertebrates of Alaska. 2010. Sea Grant Alaska. Paperback: 342 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: This fully illustrated book is a comprehensive field guide to more than four hundred marine species found in Alaska waters. Its primary geographic range is the Bering Sea, central Aleutian Islands, and the western and central Gulf of Alaska, but it also includes waters north of Norton Sound and those of southeastern Alaska. Designed for use in the field—as its waterproof binding and paper attest—it will be indispensable for fishermen, teachers, and conservation officials.
RECOMMENDATION: A useful guide to the marine life of the region.

2) Jorgensen, Elaina M.. Field Guide to Squids and Octopods of the Eastern North Pacific and Bering Sea. 2009. Sea Grant Alaska. Spiralbound: 93 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: This handy, fully illustrated guide is designed to help researchers and scientists identify squids and octopods found in the eastern North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, regions that have been difficult to sample because of their rough seas—and thus have been poorly known until now. Printed on waterproof paper, the book describes and illustrates forty-four species, with full scientific details and aids to identification.
RECOMMENDATION: Another useful guide from Sea Grant Alaska. You can see their other titles here:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Title

1) Alley, Richard B.. Earth: The Operators' Manual. 2011. W.W. Norton. Hardbound: 479 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The book—companion to a PBS series—that proves humans are causing global warming and offers a path to the future.

     Since the discovery of fire, humans have been energy users and always will be. And this is a good thing-our mastery of energy is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom and has allowed us to be the dominant species on the planet. However, this mastery comes with a price: we are changing our environment in a profoundly negative way by heating it up.
     Using one engaging story after another, coupled with accessible scientific facts, world authority Richard B. Alley explores the fascinating history of energy use by humans over the centuries, gives a doubt-destroying proof that already-high levels of carbon dioxide are causing damaging global warming, and surveys the alternative energy options that are available to exploit right now. These new energy sources might well be the engines for economic growth in the twenty-first century.
RECOMMENDATION: The preview trailer for the series can be viewed here:
The series will premiere in April 2011. For anyone with an interest in global warming and future energy resources.

Friday, March 18, 2011


1) Liguori, Jerry. Hawks At A Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors. 2011. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 193 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The ultimate must-have guide for identifying migrant raptors, Hawks at a Distance is the first volume to focus on distant raptors as they are truly seen in the field. Jerry Liguori, a leading expert on North American raptors, factors in new information and approaches for identifying twenty-nine species of raptor in various lighting situations and settings. The field guide's nineteen full-color portraits, 558 color photos, and 896 black-and-white images portray shapes and plumages for each species from all angles. Useful flight identification criteria are provided and the accompanying text discusses all aspects of in-flight hawk identification, including flight style and behavior. Concentrating on features that are genuinely observable at a distance, this concise and practical field guide is ideal for any aspiring or experienced hawk enthusiast.

*The first guide to focus on distant raptors as they are viewed in the field
*New information and approaches for identifying distant raptors
*Illustrates twenty-nine species in various lighting situations and settings
*558 color photos and 896 black-and-white images depicting plumage and shape characteristics
*All aspects of in-flight hawk identification, including flight style and behavior

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for raptor people!

2) Menkhorst, Peter and Frank Knight. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia (3rd edition). 2011. Oxford University Press. Flexicover: 274 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: This fully revised and updated edition of A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia is the only comprehensive guide to identifying all 382 species of mammals known in Australia. This book provides concise and accurate details of the appearance, diagnostic features, distribution, habitat, and key behavioral characteristics of all mammals known to have occurred in Australia or its waters since the time of European settlement. Each double-page spread provides all the information needed to identify an animal, a full-color illustration of the entire animal, a smaller diagram of diagnostic features, a distribution map, and species description and measurements, including details of how to differentiate between similar species.
     Identification keys are provided for groups that are difficult to identify to species level, including keys to the genera of small marsupials, rodents, and bats, and all marine mammals likely to be washed on to an Australian beach: whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and the Dugong.


*Fully updated and revised edition of a well-established and highly-regarded work
*Full-color illustrations of every species, including indigenous and introduced mammals, known to have occurred in Australia or its waters since the time of European settlement
*378 distribution maps
*Fully illustrated identification keys for difficult groups, such as rodents, bats and whales
*Detailed text summarizing the appearance, dimensions, distribution, habitat, and behavior of every species.

RECOMMENDATION: Frank Knight's artwork highlights this book! A must have for anyone interested in the mammals of Australia.

New Title

1) Spotila, James R.. Saving Sea Turtles: Extraordinary Stories from the Battle against Extinction. 2011. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 216 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: In April 2007, eleven leatherback turtles captured the imagination of the public worldwide as they "raced" from Costa Rica toward the Galápagos Islands. Known as the Great Turtle Race, this event tracked these critically endangered sea turtles, drawing attention to their fragile status and generating data on the turtles vital to efforts to study and protect them.
     But the Great Turtle Race is just one of many tools marine conservationists use to inform people about the status, biology, and lives of the seven sea turtle species. Due to human actions, once-plentiful sea turtle population levels plummeted throughout much of the twentieth century, stabilizing somewhat only after Archie Carr and Jacques Cousteau popularized their plight. With Saving Sea Turtles, award-winning author James R. Spotila picks up where Carr and Cousteau left off, going inside the modern-day conservation movement to tell the tales of today's sea turtle conservationists. He provides a complete overview of sea turtle biology and life cycles, discusses the human and natural world threats they face, and examines the new methods and technologies humans are using to save them. Throughout, Spotila dots the narrative with stories of real-life heroes who risk life and limb to understand, track, and conserve sea turtles across the globe.
     Spotila has been at the forefront of sea turtle research and conservation for decades. His inspirational story of dedicated individuals, creative endeavors, and adventure reveals what is being done and what else we must do in order to ensure that these fascinating animals continue swimming in the oceans.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting overview on the threats to the survival of sea turtles.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Title

1) Thomas, Richard et al.. The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia (2nd edition). 2011. CSIRO Publishing. Paperback: 463 pages. Price: $42.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: First published in 1994, The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia was the first ever book of its type in Australia – a complete guide to locating every resident bird species in Australia, plus supplementary information on where to find rarities, migratory species and logistical information.
     This fully revised second edition expands on the best-selling appeal of the first, describing the best-known sites for all of Australia’s endemic birds, plus vagrants and regular migrants such as seabirds and shorebirds. It covers all states and territories, and is the first guide to include all of Australia’s island and external territories. A comprehensive Bird Finder Guide details site information on all Australian bird species, and the authors provide valuable travel advice, including transport, climate and accommodation.
     Profusely illustrated with colour photographs of interesting, unique or unusual Australian birds, this book is a must-have for all birdwatchers living in Australia or visiting from overseas.
RECOMMENDATION: The first half of the book is the site guide, the second half is the bird species guide. Birders with an interest in the birds of Australia will want this book!

MUSIC: Rare Bird Alert

     In case you haven't heard, Steve Martin is co-starring in the movie version of Mark Obmascik's book: The Big Year (the movie is due out later this year). Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers have just released a bluegrass album titled: Rare Bird Alert. The title song to the album ( Rare Bird Alert) was inspired by Martin's role in The Big Year. It's rare to find birding related music so I thought I would share this album with you. Samples of the album's music can be found here:

You need to scroll down a ways to get to the samples. The album is available as MP3 downloads, Audio CDs (regular and deluxe editions) and a vinyl record (if you're under 30 years old, as your parents what a vinyl record is!).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Titles

1) Honovich, Nancy. The Field Guide to Birds: Explore Southern Asia and Oceania. 2011. Silver Dolphin. Hardbound: 36 pages with diorama. Price: $15.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Discover the world's most fascinating birds! Written as the research notebook of a 1920s naturalist, The Field Guide to Birds includes 59 pieces that kids can easily use to assemble eight exotic birds. By placing their birds in the removable diorama, they'll get closer than ever before to seeing these wild creatures in their natural habitats.
     The Field Guide to Birds offers kids an in-depth look at the remarkable creatures that fly through the skies of southern Asia and Oceania, from the greater flamingo, whose color is determined by its diet, to the golden bowerbird, who croaks like a bullfrog.
     Kids can go on the adventure of a lifetime-without leaving home!
RECOMMENDATION: For ages 8 and up. Kids will enjoy putting the diorama together.

2) Pearson, Richard. Driven to Extinction: The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity. 2011. Sterling. Hardbound: 263 pages. Price: $22.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Could more than a million species disappear in the 21st century?
Written by a leading scientist in the field, Driven to Extinction draws upon fascinating case studies from around the world, providing balanced and well-reasoned insight into the potential impacts of climate change on the diversity of life. Richard Pearson focuses on the science of the issue, revealing what has happened––as well as what is likely to happen––to some of the world's weirdest and most wonderful species as global temperatures continue to rise.
RECOMMENDATION: A must read for anyone with an interest in the current biodiversity crisis!

FALL 2011 Princeton University Press nature titles

I just got in a "sneak peak" of the forthcoming Fall 2011 nature titles from Princeton University Press:

1) Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide by Steve N.G. Howell. Hardbound: 440 pages, 975 photos and figures, 66 maps. Price: $45.00 U.S. DUE OUT: JANUARY 2012.

2) Birds of North America and Greenland by Norman Arlott. Paperback: 224 pages, 102 color plates, 900 color maps. Price: $15.95 U.S. DUE OUT: NOVEMBER 2011.

3) Birds of Southern Africa: 4th edition by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton. Paperback: 448 pages, 200 color plates, 950+ maps. Price: $35.00 U.S. DUE OUT:  NOVEMBER 2011.

4) Birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific by Ber van Perlo. Paperback: 256 pages, 95 color illustrations, 750 maps. Price: $29.95 U.S. DUE OUT: AUGUST 2011.

5) Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East by Dennis Paulson. Paperback: 576 pages, 675 color photos, 333 maps. Price: $29.95 U.S. DUE OUT: NOVEMBER 2011.

6) Wildlife of Southern Africa by Martin Withers and David Hosking. Paperback: 256 pages, 600 color illustrations. Price: $19.95 U.S. DUE OUT: SEPTEMBER 2011.

7) Carnivores of the World by Luke Hunter. Paperback: 240 pages, 86 color plates. Price: $29.95 U.S. DUE OUT: NOVEMBER 2011.

8) Wildflower Wonders by Bob Gibbons. Hardbound: 192 pages, 200 color photos. Price: $27.95 U.S. DUE OUT: NOVEMBER 2011.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


1) Black, John E. and Kayo J. Roy. Niagara Birds. 2010. Self-published. Paperback: 703 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S. (plus $10.00 U.S. shipping).

SUMMARY: This unique volume presents a wealth of new information, most of it previously unpublished, on the occurrence and abundance of wild bird species in the Niagara Region of Ontario,Canada (mainly covering the years between 1966 to 2006).Over 500 stunning photographs and illustrations accompany the text. The book contains some 25 articles and 368 species accounts. The table of contents and sample species accounts can be viewed here:
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for birders of the Niagara region! Anyone with an interest in regional bird guides will also want this book. The book's website is here:

Sibley Posters

     In case you haven't heard David Sibley and Scott & Nix, Inc. have produced several wall posters based on David's Sibley Guide to Birds. Here are some examples:

Eastern Backyard Birds                                                                                 Western Backyard Birds

The only problem I have with these posters is that on some of the posters the nomenclature is from 2000 and thus is somewhat dated (e.g. Screech-Owls are still in the genus Otus instead of Megascops). Other posters and other items are available from the Scott & Nix, Inc. website: and elsewhere.
These items include non-Sibley posters on fish:
The larger posters are $29.95 and the smaller ones are $24.95 U.S. UPDATE: Here's a tentative schedule for upcoming posters:

Sibley's Raptors
Sibley's Trees (West)

Sibley's Feederbirds East
Sibley's Feederbirds West

Sibley's Warblers
Sibley's Sparrows

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Titles

1) Himmelman, John. Cricket Radio: Tuning In the Night-Singing Insects. 2011. Harvard University Press. Hardbound: 254 pages. Price: $22.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: At a time when night-singing insects have slipped beyond our notice—indeed, are more likely to be heard as NatureSounds than in a backyard—John Himmelman seeks to reconnect us to creatures whose songs form a part of our own natural history.
     On warm summer evenings, night-singing insects produce a whirring, chirping soundscape—a calming aural tapestry celebrated by poets and naturalists for millennia. But “cricket radio” is not broadcast for the easy-listening pleasure of humans. The nocturnal songs of insects are lures and warnings, full of risks and rewards for these tiny competitive performers. What moves crickets and katydids to sing, how they produce their distinctive sounds, how they hear the songs of others, and how they vary cadence, volume, and pitch to attract potential mates, warn off competitors, and evade predators is part of the engaging story Cricket Radio tells.
     Himmelman’s narrative weaves together his personal experiences as an amateur naturalist in search of crickets and katydids with the stories of scientists who study these insects professionally. He also offers instructions for bringing a few of the little singers into our homes and gardens. We can, Himmelman suggests, be reawakened to these night songs that have meant so much to the human psyche. The online insect calls that accompany this colorfully illustrated narrative provide a bridge of sound to our past and to our vital connection with other species.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoy night-singing insects you'll enjoy this book! You can listen to samples of these insects here:

2) Losos, Jonathan B.. Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree: Ecology and Adaptive Radiation of Anoles. 2011. University of California Press. Paperback: 507 pages. Price: $49.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Adaptive radiation, which results when a single ancestral species gives rise to many descendants, each adapted to a different part of the environment, is possibly the single most important source of biological diversity in the living world. One of the best-studied examples involves Caribbean Anolis lizards. With about 400 species, Anolis has played an important role in the development of ecological theory and has become a model system exemplifying the integration of ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral studies to understand evolutionary diversification. This major work, written by one of the best-known investigators of Anolis, reviews and synthesizes an immense literature. Jonathan B. Losos illustrates how different scientific approaches to the questions of adaptation and diversification can be integrated and examines evolutionary and ecological questions of interest to a broad range of biologists.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in Anolis lizards.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


1) Harrison, John. A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka (Second Edition). 2011. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 208 pages. Price: $49.50 U.S.

SUMMARY: A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka is the first fully comprehensive, modern field guide to this ornithologically fascinating country. All of Sri Lanka's official avian species are described in the text and depicted in a collection of stunning color plates painted by Tim Worfolk, one of Britain's leading bird artists. The text, accessible to experienced ornithologists and beginners alike, highlights the important identification features such as plumage variations, size, calls and songs, range, distribution, and status for every species. The plates illustrate the various plumage variations for each bird, and show the birds perched and also in flight, where relevant to their identification.
     An introduction to the guide describes briefly some of the best sites for watching Sri Lanka's abundant avifauna, and provides useful contact addresses for the prospective traveller. This will be an essential purchase for all birdwatchers travelling to the region; the beautiful plates and clearly-written text will also make it a must-have for anyone who loves birds, and Sri Lankan birds in particular. Features:

*A new edition of a truly comprehensive, up-to-date, modern guide to Sri Lanka's abundant avifauna
*Contains 49 stunning colour plates by Tim Worfolk
*All species on the official Sri Lankan list are described in the text
*Plumage variations according to age, sex, season, and race are depicted. Birds are shown both perched  and in flight where relevant to their identification
*Includes the latest information on the habits and distribution of the region's bird species
*New and revised colour plates reflect recent changes to the classification of some species, the identification of a completely new species (the Serendib Scops Owl), and the growing number of species on the official list

RECOMMENDATION: If you have an interest in the birds of Sri Lanka you will want this book, even if you have the first edition!

New Title

1) Strycker, Noah. Among Penguins: A Bird Man in Antarctica. 2011. Oregon State University Press. Paperback: 207 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: The year he graduated from college, twenty-two-year-old Noah Strycker was dropped by helicopter in a remote Antarctic field camp with two bird scientists and a thre-month supply of frozen food. His subjects: more than a quarter million penguins.
     Compact, industrious, and approachable, the Adélie Penguins who call Antarctica home visit their breeding grounds each Antarctic summer to nest and rear their young before returning to sea. Because of long-term studies, scientists may know more about how these penguins will adjust to climate change than about any other creature in the world.
     Bird scientists like Noah are less well known. Like the intrepid early explorers of Antarctica, modern scientists drawn to the frozen continent face an utterly inhospitable landscape, one that inspires, isolates, and punishes.
     With wit, curiosity, and a deep knowledge of his subject, Strycker recounts the reality of life at the end of the Earth—thousand-year-old penguin mummies, hurricane-force blizzards, and day-to-day existence in below freezing temperatures—and delves deep into a world of science, obsession, and birds.
     Among Penguins weaves a captivating tale of penguins and their researchers on the coldest, driest, highest, and windiest continent on Earth. Birders, lovers of the Antarctic, and fans of first-person adventure narratives will be fascinated by Strycker’s book.
RECOMMENDATION: In you're interested in penguins or Antarctica, you'll enjoy this book!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Title

1) Marzluff, John M. and Colleen Marzluff. Dog Days, Raven Nights. 2011. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 323 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Twenty years ago, fresh out of graduate school and recently married, John and Colleen Marzluff left Arizona for a small cabin in the mountains of western Maine. Their mission: to conduct the first-ever extensive study of the winter ecology of the Common Raven under the tutelage of biologist Bernd Heinrich.
     Drawing on field notes and personal diaries, they vividly and eloquently chronicle their three-year endeavor to research a mysterious and often misunderstood bird—assembling a gigantic aviary, climbing sentry trees, building bird blinds in the forest, capturing and sustaining 300 ravens as study subjects, and enduring harsh Maine winters in pursuit of their goal. They also shared the unique challenges and joys of raising, training, and racing the sled dogs that assisted them in their work.
     Accompanied by Evon Zerbetz's lovely linocut illustrations, Dog Days, Raven Nights is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the adventures of field science and an insightful exploration of the nature of relationships, both animal and human.
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of John's In the Company of Crows and Ravens will enjoy this book!

New Title

1) Levy, Sharon. Once and Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals. 2011. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 255 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Until about 13,000 years ago, North America was home to a menagerie of massive mammals. Mammoths, camels, and lions walked the ground that has become Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles and foraged on the marsh land now buried beneath Chicago's streets. Then, just as the first humans reached the Americas, these Ice Age giants vanished forever.
     In Once and Future Giants, science writer Sharon Levy digs through the evidence surrounding Pleistocene large animal ("megafauna") extinction events worldwide, showing that understanding this history--and our part in it--is crucial for protecting the elephants, polar bears, and other great creatures at risk today. These surviving relatives of the Ice Age beasts now face an intensified replay of that great die-off, as our species usurps the planet's last wild places while driving a warming trend more extreme than any in mammalian history.
     Inspired by a passion for the lost Pleistocene giants, some scientists advocate bringing elephants and cheetahs to the Great Plains as stand-ins for their extinct native brethren. By reintroducing big browsers and carnivores to North America, they argue, we could rescue some of the planet's most endangered animals while restoring healthy prairie ecosystems. Critics, including biologists enmeshed in the struggle to restore native species like the gray wolf and the bison, see the proposal as a dangerous distraction from more realistic and legitimate conservation efforts.
     Deftly navigating competing theories and emerging evidence, Once and Future Giants examines the extent of human influence on megafauna extinctions past and present, and explores innovative conservation efforts around the globe. The key to modern-day conservation, Levy suggests, may lie fossilized right under our feet.
RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction to Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions and today's endangered species.