Sunday, August 15, 2021

New Titles


1) McFarland, Casey et al.. Peterson Field Guide to North American Bird Nests. 2021. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 500 Pages. Price: $24.99 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A comprehensive field guide to the nests and nesting behavior of North American birds.

     Beyond being a simple reference book, the Peterson Field Guide to North American Bird Nests is a practical, educational, and intimate doorway to our continent’s bird life. The diversity of nests and nesting strategies of birds reflect the unique biology and evolution of these charismatic animals. Unlike any other book currently on the market, this guide comprehensively incorporates nest design, breeding behavior, and habitat preferences of North American birds to provide the reader with a highly functional field resource and an engaging perspective of this sensitive part of a bird’s life cycle.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the breeding biology of North American birds!


2) Dunne, Pete and Kevin T. Karlson. Bird Families of North America. 2021. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 276 pages. Price: $26.00 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Focusing on families and their shared traits makes bird identification easier than ever. 

     This guide takes readers beyond merely identifying birds to understanding them. Many birders can tell the difference between a White-eyed and Bell’s Vireo but cannot begin to describe a vireo and what distinguishes members of this family from warblers or flycatchers. The “species by species” approach makes it difficult to appreciate birds for what they are: members of well-organized groupings united by common traits. Putting the focus on families, and their shared characteristics, makes bird identification easier and more meaningful. More than 150 color photos illustrate the 81 bird families of the United States and Canada.

RECOMMENDATION: A nice overview of North American bird families!

3) Paruk, James D.. Loon Lessons: Uncommon Encounters with the Great Northern Diver. 2021. University of Minnesota Press. Hardbound: 221 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The nature of the common loon, from biology to behavior, from one of the world’s foremost observers of the revered waterbird.  

     Even those who know the loon’s call might not recognize it as a tremolo, yodel, or wail, and may not understand what each call means, how it’s made, and why. And those who marvel at the loon’s diving prowess might wonder why this bird has such skill, or where loons go when they must leave northern lakes in winter. For these and so many other mysteries, Loon Lessons provides evolutionary and ecological explanations that are curious and compelling. Written by one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject, the book is a compendium of knowledge about the common loon and an engaging record of scientific sleuthing, documenting more than twenty-five years of research into the great northern diver.

     James D. Paruk has observed and compared loons from Washington and Saskatchewan to the coasts of California and Louisiana, from high elevation deserts in Nevada to mountain lakes in Maine. Drawing on his extensive experience, a wealth of data, and well-established scientific principles, he considers every aspect of the loon, from its plumage and anatomy to its breeding, migration, and wintering strategies. Here, in the first detailed scientific account of the common loon in more than thirty years, Paruk describes its biology in an accessible and entertaining style that affords a deeper understanding of this beautiful and mysterious bird’s natural history and annual life cycle.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for all loon fans!

4) Tyler, Michael J. and Frank Knight. Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia (Second Edition). 2020. CSIRO Publishing. Paperback: 200 pages. Price: $32.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Throughout much of the world, frog populations are declining, with the survival of many species under threat. In Australia, several species have become extinct in the past 35 years.       

     This second edition of Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia provides fully updated accounts of all the known frogs of Australia. There are 248 species within the five native frog families: Hylidae, Limnodynastidae, Microhylidae, Myobatrachidae and Ranidae. Also included are the introduced Cane Toad and nine "stowaway" species that have arrived in Australia.

     Each species account includes details of size, status, distribution, habitat, behavior and advertisement call. Species are beautifully illustrated with full-color paintings and distribution maps are also included. Closely related frogs are shown in identical poses so that comparisons can be made readily. The introductory section of the book covers frog biology and habitats and includes notes on families and genera.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the frogs of Australia. Frank Knight's artwork highlights this book!

5) Elrick, Krista. A Country No More: Rediscovering the Landscapes of John James Audubon. 2021. George F Thompson Publishing. Hardbound: 255 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The first artist to retrace the steps and revisit the landscapes of John James Audubon, from the East Coast, to the Gulf Coast, to the Heartland and Rocky Mountains.

     In 2010, when photographer Krista Elrick began traversing John James Audubon country in search of the birds the nineteenth-century American naturalist observed, painted, and wrote about, she encountered scarcely a sighting. Instead, she found the lushly forested watersheds and waterways that Audubon had passionately described in his journals vastly altered with many of the bird species extinct and their supporting habitat all but disappeared. Industrial buildings, parking lots, and strip malls had overtaken much of the area, edging out the natural world. It was a country no more.

     With a vintage Hasselblad film camera in hand, Elrick traveled more than 45,000 miles over ten years, following in the footsteps of Audubon as she sought clues to what had happened to these places and to the animals and peoples who once lived there. Starting at his home in Mill Grove near Philadelphia, she retraced Audubon’s many journeys to the bluffs of Cincinnati overlooking the Ohio River; to the key port town of Henderson, Kentucky; to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and the burgeoning frontier towns of Natchez in Mississippi and St. Francisville and New Orleans in Louisiana; then back east to Charleston in South Carolina and St. Augustine and Key West in Florida on the Atlantic Coast; and on to far West and the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers; and on a final journey to Audubon’s gravesite in the Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City. What a journey.

     Audubon’s approach to painting birds was unique. He would kill however many birds he needed, brought them back to a studio or a room where he was lodging, constructed scenes with backdrops from a variety of locales, and rendered them in the paintings we revere today. Elrick responds to that approach by creating collages of her own, integrating the black-and-white images she made of the places Audubon and she traveled through with historic bank notes, period maps, and other ephemera that yield fascinating insights into the landscapes of Audubon today. And we see the changes and resulting effects on the natural world and its species as well as on the lives of the Native Americans and African Americans who once occupied the areas during Audubon’s day.

     In her research Elrick also discovered—as his biographers have—that Audubon himself was something of an enigma, a fabulist who told enchanting yet often conflicting stories about his own history and identity and what he saw in the field. Elrick’s book offers us a fascinating compendium that gives us a fresh and provocative perspective on Audubon—the man and the artist—his times and enduring legacy.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in John James Audubon! 

6) Anderson, Jay et al.. Peterson Field Guide to Weather. 2021. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 536 pages. Price: $27.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A field guide to the weather, including clouds, storm systems, and climate change.

     A resource for those intrigued by events in the sky—clouds, precipitation, storms, aurora, halos—and for those who follow daily weather events. Using a nontechnical approach, the authors describe the flow of energy and moisture through global and local landscapes and how they evolve into day-to-day weather. For those fascinated by the sky’s colors and patterns, there are halos, rainbows, iridescent clouds, and other tapestries in the sky. For the cloud-watcher, common and unusual cloud forms are covered; for those entranced by storms, the guide includes severe thunderstorms, winter blizzards, hurricanes, hail, ice storms, and other challenges that the atmosphere inflicts. It even includes a chapter on weather in the atmospheres of the planets and the sun. More than 400 photographs illustrate visible weather, and diagrams explain the more challenging physical concepts. This book is designed for those who want to look up, marvel, and understand what they see.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the weather!

7) Mount, Toni. How to Survive in Medieval England. 2021. Pen and Sword History. Paperback: 159 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Imagine you were transported back in time to Medieval England and had to start a new life there. Without mobile phones, ipads, internet, and social media networks, when transport means walking or, if you’re fortunate, horseback, how will you know where you are or what to do? Where will you live? What is there to eat? What shall you wear? How can you communicate when nobody speaks as you do and what about money? Who can you go to if you fall ill or are mugged in the street? However can you fit into and thrive in this strange environment full of odd people who seem so different from you?

     All these questions and many more are answered in this new guide book for time-travelers: How to Survive in Medieval England. A handy self-help guide with tips and suggestions to make your visit to the Middle Ages much more fun, this lively and engaging book will help the reader deal with the new experiences they may encounter and the problems that might occur. Know the laws so you don’t get into trouble or show your ignorance in an embarrassing faux pas.

     Enjoy interviews with the celebrities of the day, from a business woman and a condemned felon, to a royal cook and King Richard III himself. Have a go at preparing medieval dishes and learn some new words to set the mood for your time-travelling adventure. Have an exciting visit but be sure to keep this book at hand.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in Medieval England!


Sunday, August 1, 2021

New Titles


1) Harrison, Peter, Martin Perrow, and Hans Larsson. Seabirds: The New Identification Guide. 2021. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 600 pages. Price: $90.00 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This is the first comprehensive guide to the world’s 434 species of seabirds, to be published since the 1983 publication of Harrison’s Seabirds: An Identification Guide. It covers all known seabirds, beginning with seaducks and grebes and ending with cormorants and pelicans. Lavishly illustrated and detailed throughout the 600 pages, this guide gives full treatment to all known seabird species including recently rediscovered and rarely seen species.

- The essential new field guide to the seabirds of the world.
- 239 superb, full-colour plates with extensive captions and detailed facing-plate identification texts and maps, to enable identification at a glance.
- More than 3,800 full-colour figures with illustrations of distinct subspecies, sexes, ages and morphs, are further supported by in-text identification keys and figures.
- Comprehensive and definitive, the text covers status and conservation, geographic range, movements and migration, breeding biology and feeding habits, plus identification and latest taxonomic treatments.
- The only seabird guide to cover all known seabird groups and species. Seabirders worldwide will find this to be an authoritative, one-of-a-kind publication for use around the globe.

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all pelagic birders! This book will be the standard seabirds reference for years to come!


2) Mittermeier, Russell A. et al.. Mammals of Madagascar. 2021. Lynx Edicions. Paperback: 173 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The first book to describe and illustrate every mammal species found in Madagascar. Also includes those of the nearby islands of the Comoros, the Seychelles, RĂ©union and Mauritius.

     This illustrated checklist covers Madagascar, one of the highest-priority Biodiversity Hotspots on our planet given the amazing diversity of its flora and fauna and its long list of extraordinary endemic species. Small though the island is in a global context, it is considered to be one of the world's four major regions for primates, most notably for its more than 100 endemic species of lemur. Given Madagascar's globally unique biodiversity, and the relative ease with which it can be seen and enjoyed, it should be one of the world's premier ecotourism destinations.

      Although not a traditional field guide, Mammals of Madagascar will equip both residents and visitors to the region with an easy-to-use resource that will allow them to quickly learn about the 253 species of mammals known to occur in the area.

- With an easy-to-use format that is very handy for the field, this new book enables visitors to see at a glance which species are present in the region, and gives pointers that will help towards their identification.
- Covering the 253 mammal species occurring naturally in Madagascar, as well as 13 others restricted to the neighbouring islands.
- Texts for each species include common names in English and French; scientific names; conservation status according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; the most relevant details about habitats occupied; and brief descriptive notes.
- Each species account is accompanied by one or more illustrations and a distribution map.
- Two separate sections deal with the land mammals of the neighbouring islands and mammals introduced to the region by humans.
- Also included is a table of selected sites for observing mammals across the region, together with a note of some of the highlight species for each site.
- Convenient checklists are provided for Madagascar and each island group, where you can mark the species you have seen.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the mammals of Madagascar!

3) Drewitt, Ed. Raptor Prey Remains: A Guide to Identifying What’s Been Eaten by a Bird of Prey. 2020. Pelagic Publishing. Paperback: 230 pages. Price: $32.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Are you curious about the remains of an animal you have found? This compilation of the most likely found body parts of animals eaten by raptors will help you identify your discovery. Including over 100 species of bird and mammal prey of raptors such as sparrowhawks, peregrines and hen harriers, this photographic guide highlights the common feathers, fur and other body parts found at raptor nests, roosts, plucking posts and other opportunistic spots.

      Discovering what raptors eat is an important part of confirming their feeding ecology and how this might change over time, vary on a local level or in response to changing prey populations, as well as dispelling myths and assumptions about what certain raptors species eat. Diet studies are vital for the conservation of raptor species; the more we know about what they need for survival the more we can predict and plan long-term for the protection and survival of raptors that may be vulnerable and in decline.

      This is the first book to show in detail the actual parts of a bird, mammal or other animal that you are likely to find in a garden, woodland or beneath a raptor roost. As more people take an interest in raptors and watch species such as peregrines via webcams and through watch groups, there is greater opportunity for finding prey remains. This book provides the first and most important step in identifying a prey species. 

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for all European raptor researchers. I wish we had a book like this for North America! 

4) Morgan-Grenville, Roger. Shearwater: A Bird, an Ocean, and a Long Way Home. 2021. Icon Books. Hardbound: ‎ 304 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A very personal mix of memoir and natural history from the author of Liquid Gold.

     Ten weeks into its life, a Manx Shearwater chick will emerge from its burrow and fly 8,000 miles from the west coast of the British Isles to the South Atlantic. It will be unlikely to touch land again for four years.

     Part memoir, part homage to wilderness, Shearwater traces the author’s 50-year obsession with one of nature’s supreme travellers. In the finest tradition of nature writing, Roger Morgan-Grenville, author of Liquid Gold – described by Mary Colwell (Curlew Moon) as ‘a book that ignites joy and warmth’ – unpicks the science behind its incredible journey; and into the story of a year in the shearwater’s life, he threads the inspirational influence of his Hebridean grandmother who instilled in him a love of wild places and wild animals.

     Full of lightly-worn knowledge, acute human observation and self-deprecating humour, Shearwater brings to life a truly mysterious and charismatic bird.

RECOMMENDATION: A well written narrative about an uncommon species in the literature. 

5) Arno, Stephen and Ramona P. Hammerly. Northwest Trees: Identifying and Understanding the Region's Native Trees. 2020.  Mountaineers Books. Paperback: 302 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: No other guide duplicates Arno and Hammerly’s blend of expertise and visual artistry. Covering Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and north into Canada, they identify and illustrate more than 60 species of indigenous Northwestern trees by characteristic shape, size, needles or leaves, and cones or seeds. This essential guide:

  • Provides an easy-to-use illustrated identification key based on the most reliable and non-technical features of each species
  • Features the ecology and human history associated with all Northwest trees
  • Includes 185 exceptionally accurate drawings as well as historical photos that bring these trees to life


6) Jensen, Edward C.. Trees to Know in Oregon and Washington. 2020. Oregon State University Press. Paperback: 172 pages. Price: $20.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: For 70 years, people have turned to one book to learn about Northwest trees: Trees to Know in Oregon. This new edition, retitled Trees to Know in Oregon and Washington, expands its scope to cover more territory and include more trees.
      The book was first published in 1950. Charles R. Ross, an Oregon State University Extension forester, wanted to introduce readers to the towering giants in their backyards. Since then, Edward C. Jensen has stewarded the publication through several more editions. This edition features several rare species native to southwest Oregon. It also updates scientific names and adds a new section on how Northwest forests are likely to be affected by changing climates.

      Since its initial publication, Trees to Know has become a mainstay for students, gardeners, small woodland owners and visitors to the Pacific Northwest. Along with all the details on native conifers, broadleaves, and more than 50 ornamental trees, readers will find:

  • More than 400 full-color photos and 70 maps depicting habitat, range and forest type.
  • Easy-to-follow identification keys.
  • Handy guides to help distinguish one variety from another.
  • The story of Northwest forests — past, present and future.

RECOMMENDATION: Of these two tree books, Arno's is illustrated with drawings and has more text. Jensen's is illustrated by color photos and has range maps (for the native species). Therefore I see Arno's book mainly as a reference book and Jensen's as a field guide.