Sunday, April 4, 2021

New Titles



 

 

1) Hilty, Steven L.. Birds of Colombia. 2021. Lynx Edicions. Flexibound: 608 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This addition to the Lynx and BirdLife International Field Guides series covers the birder's paradise that is Colombia. Not only have more species been recorded there than in any other country, but almost one-fifth of the world's birds occur in Colombia, packed into an area slightly greater than 1,100,000 km2.

     Stretching east to west from the Orinoco River to the Pacific Ocean, and north to south from the Caribbean to Amazonian headwaters, the country's topography is remarkably diverse. Here, the Andes are separated into three ranges by two important valleys, the Cauca and the Magdalena, and there are two very important massifs, Santa Marta and Perijá, in the north of the country – in particular, the Santa Marta range is one of the great endemic hotspots in the world. In recent years, a series of standard birding routes has evolved, many of them focused on the country's privately and publicly owned protected areas, permitting keen birders to see nearly all of Colombia's many special birds, from extravagantly plumaged parrots and hummingbirds to skulking antpittas.

     Nevertheless, in South America the capacity to escape the beaten track and make novel findings is perhaps nowhere better than Colombia, as exemplified by the recent discovery of an apparently new species of antpitta close to the city of Cali.

      As with previous volumes, the taxonomy follows the Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Detailed texts cover status, habitat and behaviour, age, sex and geographical variation, voice, and confusion species. The guides draws on Lynx's vast image bank and includes almost 3000 illustrations covering all species and distinctive subspecies, birds in flight, males and females, juveniles and non-breeding plumages, where appropriate. Close to 2000 full-colour range maps show distribution for all regularly occurring species. For each species a QR code is included, linking to complementary audiovisual material. Well-marked subspecies groups receive full accounts, and the distributions of subspecies breeding in the region are clearly mapped and local species names included. In total, 2089 species and subspecies groups; 111 endemics, 85 near-endemics, 3 introduced, 69 vagrants are covered.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone birding Colombia!


2) Eaton, James A. et al.. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago: Greater Sundas and Wallacea (Second Edition). 2021. Lynx Edicions. Flexibound: 536 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The first ornithological field guide covering the vast chain of the Indonesian archipelago has been completely revised following years of meticulous research. This second edition now encompasses over 2,800 illustrations, including 325 entirely new figures and nearly 500 alterations to the original artwork, supplemented by 1,350 maps of all regularly occurring species. The species are mapped with improved accuracy by including three magnified geographical regions, or by a larger archipelago-wide map frame. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago describes all 1,456 bird species known to occur in the region, including 628 endemics, 106 vagrants, 4 introduced species and 10 species yet to be formally described. Together these represent over 13% of global bird diversity. Importantly, all subspecies are described in detail.

     Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago fully covers the biogeographic regions of the Greater Sundas (Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Bali) and Wallacea (Sulawesi, the Moluccas and the Lesser Sundas), plus all satellite islands. This region spans an arc of over 4,000 km along the Equator, including East Timor, Brunei Darussalam, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and most of the territory of the Republic of Indonesia.

     The authors' combined vast, unparalleled experience and knowledge of the region's birds brings together the latest taxonomic insights, knowledge of distribution, field identification features, vocalisations and more to create an indispensable reference for anyone with an interest in the avifauna of this fabulously diverse region. The additional attention to detail allows Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago to be used elsewhere in Asia as particular attention is paid to help the reader identify even the trickiest of species.

- Taxonomy follows an integrative approach based on bioacoustics, genomics and morphology, often based on the authors’ own peer-reviewed systematic work in the region.
- Detailed texts covering status, taxonomy, habitat and behaviour, all plumage variations, vocalisations, and similar species.
- 1,456 species, 628 endemics, 106 vagrants, 4 introduced and 10 undescribed species.
- Over 2,800 illustrations covering all species and distinctive subspecies, birds in flight, males and females, immatures and non-breeding plumages, where appropriate.
- 1,350 full-colour range maps for all regularly occurring species, spread across four regional map frames.
- List of all the bird names in Bahasa Indonesia, useful for travelling birders, researchers and to help interaction with Bahasa Indonesia speakers.
- A revised, more traditional and familiar index.
- Keeping within the taxonomic constraints, species accounts have been moved so that similar and/or regional species are on the same page, allowing for easier comparisons, and less time spent flicking between pages.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone birding the region!

 



3) Cirigliano, Jim (editor). National Audubon Society Birds of North America. 2021. Knopf. Flexibound: 907 pages. Price: $49.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Developed by the creators of the best-selling Audubon field guides, this handsome volume is the result of a collaboration among leading scientists, scholars, taxonomic and field experts, photo editors, and designers. An indispensable reference, it covers more than 800 species, with over 3,500 full-color photographs of birds in their natural habitat, often with four or five images of each species. For ease of use, the book includes a glossary, an index, and a ribbon marker, and is arranged according to the American Ornithological Society's latest Checklist of North and Middle American Birds--[through 2019]--with birds sorted by taxonomic orders and grouped by family, so that related species are presented together. Range maps, reflecting the impact of climate change, accompany nearly every entry, along with a physical description and information on voice, nesting, habitat, and similar species. This guide also includes an important new category on conservation status and essays by leading scholars in each field who provide holistic insights into the world of birds. Whether trying to determine which owl is interrupting your dinner or successfully identifying all of the warblers that arrive in spring, readers will come to rely on this work of remarkable breadth, depth, and elegance. It is a must-have reference for the library of any birder, and is poised to become the number one guide in the field.

RECOMMENDATION: Best for intermediate level birders. 

 



4) Davis, Kate. Falcons of North America (Second Edition). 2021. Mountain Press. Paperback: 252 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Bold and beautiful, falcons hold a special place in the hearts of people. In Falcons of North America, renowned raptor advocate and environmental educator Kate Davis opens a door into the lives of these extraordinary, enigmatic birds of prey.

Since the publication of the first edition 13 years ago, advances in technology have revolutionized the study of falcons. This updated and revised second edition contains completely new classifications of the six North American falcon species based on DNA studies. Population trends are explored, with discussions of the mysterious decline of the American Kestrel and the impact of global warming on falcons, particularly the arctic-dwelling Gyrfalcon. Davis also includes fascinating details on one of the greatest conservation success stories--that of the Peregrine Falcon--from a brush with extinction in North America to greater populations than ever before, even thriving as city dwellers across the continent.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the falcons of North America!




5) Cirigliano, Jim (editor). National Audubon Society Trees of North America. 2021. Knopf. Flexibound: 591 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This handsome volume is the result of a collaboration among leading scientists, scholars, taxonomic and field experts, photo editors, and designers. An indispensable reference, it covers more than 540 species, with nearly 2,500 full-color photographs--including images of the bark, fruit, and flowers, as well as photos that illustrate leaf shape and seasonal color changes. For ease of use, the book includes a glossary, a robust index, and a ribbon marker, and is arranged according to the latest Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification system--with trees sorted by taxonomic orders and grouped by family, so that related species are presented together. Readers will appreciate the crisp detail of the photographs; range maps (reflecting the impact of climate change); physical descriptions; and information on fruit, habitat, uses, and similar species. The guide includes an important new category on conservation status and essays by leading scholars who provide holistic insights into the world of trees. Whether putting a name to the towering conifers spotted along a hike or getting to know the trees that grow in the backyard, readers will come to rely on this work of remarkable breadth, depth, and elegance. It is a must-have reference for the library of any nature lover, and is poised to become the number one guide in the field.

RECOMMENDATION: The most up-to-date North American tree guide currently available!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

New Titles

 


1) Brinkhuizen, Dušan and Jonas Nilsson. Birds and Mammals of the Galapagos. 2020. Lynx Edicions. Flexibound: 184 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The Galapagos archipelago is one of the most famous destinations on Earth for lovers of natural history. Straddling the equator in the Pacific Ocean c. 1000 km west of Ecuador lies 'the world's natural laboratory' with its large radiations of mockingbirds and Darwin's finches. These remote islands of volcanic origin have been colonized by a remarkable and diverse wildlife, many of the animals being quite fearless of man. With 33 endemic bird species plus 12 endemic subspecies, and six endemic mammals, the islands are unsurprisingly popular with birders and general naturalists alike. This comprehensive field guide covers all of the birds and mammals known to occur, providing the latest insights on field identification and taxonomy for challenging groups such as pelagic birds, Darwin's finches, and cetaceans. The Galapagos is also known for its vagrants, which too are covered in detail, including several new records not published previously. Many hypothetical and potential species have been included in a separate section, to further promote exploration of these unique islands.

- Taxonomy follows the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World and the Illustrated Checklist of the Mammals of the World.
- Detailed texts covering status, habitat and behaviour, age, sex and geographical variation, and confusion species, as well as voice for birds.
- More than 660 illustrations covering all species and distinctive subspecies, males and females, birds in flight, juveniles and non-breeding plumages, where appropriate.
- More than 110 full-colour range maps for all species except cetaceans and vagrant birds and mammals.
- For birds, well-marked subspecies groups receive full accounts, and the distributions of subspecies breeding in the region are clearly mapped.
- QR code for every bird species, linked to complementary audiovisual material.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for naturalists visiting the Galapagos Islands!

 

2) Keller, Verena et al.. European Breeding Bird Atlas 2: Distribution, Abundance and Change. 2020. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 967 pages. Price: $95.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Determining properly where birds are in this changing world is of paramount importance for their conservation, and doing that at a continental scale is something that can be only achieved under a strong willingness of international cooperation. To do that, the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) is organised as a network of expert ornithologists that boost bird atlas work across Europe.

    The first European Breeding Bird Atlas (EBBA1) published by the EBCC in 1997 was a milestone in European ornithology. The project of the second European Breeding Bird Atlas (EBBA2) was carried out by the EBCC network of partner organisations from 48 countries. In total, around 120,000 fieldworkers contributed data to the atlas, the great majority of them on a voluntary basis. As such this project constitutes one of the biggest citizen science projects on biodiversity ever. Data collection and analysis followed a rigorous scientific protocol, led by a team of researchers from ornithological institutes with many years of experience in atlas work.

     The huge fieldwork effort resulted in unprecedented geographical coverage for a biodiversity atlas in Europe, including all areas up to the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea that were not well covered for EBBA1. These data were mainly collected for the period lasting from 2013 to 2017.

     European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 presents information on all species reported to breed in the study period and some with more uncertain breeding status. A total of 556 species are treated with a full species account including maps, text and an illustration; information on 69 very rare or irregularly breeding species is presented in an Appendix. Full species accounts include distribution maps at a resolution of 50×50 km (usually showing abundance data), modelled distribution maps with a resolution of 10×10 km (for 224 breeding birds) and change maps documenting changes in distribution since the first atlas.

     Original artwork illustrates all species with a full account. Illustrations were provided by 45 artists from 18 countries, with different styles and techniques, reflecting European diversity.

      This book represents the most up-to-date source of information on bird distribution and change in Europe, and a great contribution to the global aim of understanding biodiversity to ensure its conservation.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for all serious birders, ornithologists and conservationists of Europe!

 


3) Monroe Jr., Burt L.. The Birds of Kentucky. 2021 (1994). University Press of Kentucky. Hardbound: 145 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The first book of its kind to be published for the Bluegrass State, The Birds of Kentucky is designed to provide an accurate and scientifically rigorous description of all the species of birds found in Kentucky. This comprehensive guide features a wealth of information, including abundance records, migration dates, and additional reference material, and indicates whether a bird is a permanent resident, winter resident, summer resident, visitant, or transient. Additionally, author Burt L. Monroe reviews the history of ornithologists who have worked in Kentucky and outlines the physiography of the state as it relates to birding.

     More than just a verbal portrait of Kentucky avifauna, The Birds of Kentucky includes fifty-one color paintings by the renowned wildlife artist William Zimmerman, whose work has been favorably compared to that of John James Audubon. In contrast to Audubon's romanticism and often tortuous style, however, Zimmerman offers us "comfortable" birds that look as if they are about to take wing and leave the page.

     Beautifully illustrated and based on a lifetime of field observation and research, this book provides an excellent guide to the natural history of the birds of the Bluegrass.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the birds of Kentucky.

 



4) Walters, Mark Jerome. Florida Scrub-Jay: Field Notes on a Vanishing Bird. 2021. University Press of Florida. Hardbound: 165 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The only bird species that lives exclusively in Florida, the Florida scrub-jay was once common across the peninsula. But as development over the last 100 years reduced the habitat on which the bird depends from 39 counties to three, the species became endangered. With a writer’s eye and an explorer’s spirit, Mark Walters travels the state to report on the natural history and current predicament of Florida’s flagship bird.

     Tracing the millions of years of evolution and migration that led to the development of songbirds and this unique species of jay, Walters describes the Florida bird’s long, graceful tail, its hues that blend from one to the next, and its notoriously friendly manner. He then focuses on the massive land-reclamation and canal-building projects of the twentieth century that ate away at the ancient oak scrub heartlands where the bird was abundant, reducing its population by 90 percent.

     Walters also investigates conservation efforts taking place today. On a series of field excursions, he introduces the people who are leading the charge to save the bird from extinction―those who gather for annual counts of the species in fragmented and overlooked areas of scrub; those who relocate populations of scrub-jays out of harm’s way; those who survey and purchase land to create wildlife refuges; and those who advocate for the prescribed fires that keep scrub ecosystems inhabitable for the species.

     A loving portrayal of a very special bird, Florida Scrub-Jay is also a thoughtful reflection on the ethical and emotional weight of protecting a species in an age of catastrophe. Now is the time to act, says Walters, or we will lose the scrub-jay forever.

RECOMMENDATION: A must read for those with an interest in the Florida Scrub-Jay. 

 


5) Moclock, Leslie and Jacob Selander. Rocks, Minerals, and Geology of the Pacific Northwest. 2021. Timber Press. Flexibound: 357 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Rocks, Minerals, and Geology of the Pacific Northwest highlights100 rocks, minerals, and fossil types found in Oregon and Washington. Each entry has color photography that shows a range of possibilities in appearance and a description of the defining physical properties and textures. Lists of minerals organized by other physical properties like habit, hardness, and cleavage are included. Rocks, Minerals, and Geology of the Pacific Northwest also includes 40 landscape features viewable along trails in Washington and Oregon that will empower hikers to make observations and interpretations about how these features came to be. 

  • The essential reference for rockhounds, hikers, climbers, and geology enthusiasts
  • More than 400 photographs, illustrations, tables, and maps showcase and explain everything from minuscule crystals to planetary tectonics
  • Interprets the histories of dominant landscape features along regional hiking trails
  • Profiles more than 100 minerals and rocks in detailed entries with photos, descriptions, identification graphics, and mini indexes
  • Covers the geologic composition and 13 physiographic regions of Washington and Oregon

 RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the geology of the region!

 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

New Titles


 

1) Pearman, Mark et al.. Birds of Argentina and the South-west Atlantic. 2021. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 480 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Argentina is one of South America’s premier birding destinations, encompassing a wide range of habitats―from lush rainforests and vast pampas grasslands to the extensive wetlands of the Pantanal and the windswept wilderness of Tierra del Fuego. Surprisingly, despite the strong interest in Argentina’s rich avian population, the country has until now lacked a credible, modern field guide to its birds. Authoritative and up-to-date, Birds of Argentina and the South-west Atlantic provides detailed species accounts, a plethora of maps, and more than 170 stunning color plates illustrating every species and subspecies, and all major plumages for males, females, and many juveniles. This essential book will satisfy all birders, from newcomers to the most serious enthusiasts.

  • The only up-to-date English-language guide to the birds of Argentina
  • Beautifully illustrated with more than 170 color plates
  • Depictions of all species and subspecies
  • Detailed and authoritative species accounts
  • Plentiful maps

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone birding Argentina!

 


2) Vickery, Peter et al.. Birds of Maine. 2020. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 642 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The first comprehensive overview of Maine’s incredibly rich birdlife in more than seven decades, Birds of Maine is a detailed account of all 464 species recorded in the Pine Tree State. It is also a thoroughly researched, accessible portrait of a region undergoing rapid changes, with southern birds pushing north, northern birds expanding south, and once-absent natives like Atlantic Puffins brought back by innovative conservation techniques pioneered in Maine.

     Written by the late Peter Vickery in cooperation with a team of leading ornithologists, this guide offers a detailed look at the state’s dynamic avifauna―from the Wild Turkey to the Arctic Tern―with information on migration patterns and timing, current status and changes in bird abundance and distribution, and how Maine's geography and shifting climate mold its birdlife. It delves into the conservation status for Maine's birds, as well as the state's unusually textured ornithological history, involving such famous names as John James Audubon and Theodore Roosevelt, and home-grown experts like Cordelia Stanwood and Ralph Palmer. Sidebars explore diverse topics, including the Old Sow whirlpool that draws multitudes of seabirds and the famed Monhegan Island, a mecca for migrant birds.

     Gorgeously illustrated with watercolors by Lars Jonsson and scores of line drawings by Barry Van Dusen, Birds of Maine is a remarkable guide that birders will rely on for decades to come.
 

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the birds of Maine!

 

 



3) McKnight, Karl B. et al.. Peterson Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America, Second Edition. 2021. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 411 pages. Price: $23.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A new approach to identifying mushrooms based on five key features that can be observed while in the field. 

     Toadstools, truffles, boletes and morels, witches’ butter, conks, corals, puffballs and earthstars: mushrooms are both mysterious and ecologically essential. They can also be either delicious or deadly.
 
      Thousands of different species of mushrooms appear across North America in the woods, backyards, and in unexpected corners. Learning to distinguish them is a rewarding challenge for a naturalist or chef. Covering most of the common edible and poisonous species readers are likely to encounter, this portable-sized field guide takes a new, simple approach to the method of mushroom identification based on key features that do not require a microscope or technical vocabulary.
 
      In addition to the watercolors from the original edition, hundreds more illustrations have been added. These paintings make use of the limited space available in a field guide and focus on the distinguishing details of each species, thereby serving as an ideal tool for beginner and intermediate mycologists alike.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in North American mushrooms!

 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Titles


 

1) Fjeldså, Jon et al.(editors). The Largest Avian Radiation The Evolution of Perching Birds, or the Order Passeriformes. 2020. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 445 pages. Price: $95.00 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: With more than 6200 species, the perching – or passerine – birds represent one of the most remarkably rapid proliferations of species. The traditional classification of birds, which was mainly based on comparative anatomical studies more than 100 years ago, could do little to resolve the relationships among passerines because they were generally too anatomically uniform. Therefore, the classification that was used for most of the 20th century was a practical arrangement, where the thousands of species were accommodated in a few broad groups based mainly on ecological adaptations.

     Recent DNA studies have dramatically changed the understanding of passerine evolutionary relationships. Apparently, the passerines originated during the early radiation of modern birds, on the austral continents (South America, Antarctica and Australia), after a global catastrophe had wiped out most of the ancient terrestrial life, including large dinosaurs and early birds.

     The Largest Avian Radiation reveals the remarkable new history of how passerines diversified and dispersed across the entire world. It also presents and explains the new classification, which reflects the phylogenetic history. The new insights reveal that many of the old evolutionary lineages comprise only a few species that remained in their area of origin or underwent limited dispersal. Only a small number of groups underwent significant proliferation of new species and just five (of 145) passerine families are represented on all continents but Antarctica. Even so, the global variation in species richness generally correlates well with the variation in productivity across different environments. We see how a seemingly constant overall rate of evolution of new species is possible because of rapid proliferation in new ecological niches, including archipelagos, and an extraordinary accumulation of endemic species in certain tropical mountain ranges.

     In addition to describing the revised evolutionary history of passerine birds, the authors try to identify adaptational changes, including shifts in life-history strategies, that underlie major evolutionary expansions. Their aim is to further the development of a unified theory to explain how the prodigious variation of Earth's biodiversity is generated.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in avian evolution!

 

2) Allen, Desmond. Birds of the Philippines. 2020. Lynx Edicions. Flexibound: 400 pages. Price: $59.95 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The world's fifth-largest island nation comprises in excess of 7600 islands and islets, and is one of the most populous and ethnically diverse in all of Asia, with more than 180 native languages still spoken. To birders, however, the Philippines is famed for the country's remarkable endemic avifauna. Of the c. 770 species or distinctive subspecies groups covered by Birds of the Philippines almost 300 occur nowhere else on Earth. Sadly, the looming threat of extinction, due to sometimes rampant and ongoing habitat loss and fragmentation, imperils many of these species: among the endemic birds, no fewer than 75 are categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. These unsurprisingly include some of the Philippines most sought-after birds, from the stunningly beautiful Palawan Peacock-pheasant to the emblematic Philippine Eagle, via an array of secretive pigeons, spectacular kingfishers, hornbills and broadbills, fancy woodpeckers, no fewer than 17 owls, and of course many babblers and flycatchers. If this was not enticement aplenty, in addition to the resident backbone, the islands receive many visitors, including migrants moving between northern Asia and Australasia, whereas others such as the globally threatened Chinese Crested Tern have only recently been discovered to winter in the Philippines.

- Taxonomy follows the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World.
- Detailed texts covering status, habitat and behaviour, age, sex and geographical variation, voice, and confusion species.
- Over 1615 illustrations covering all species and distinctive subspecies, birds in flight, males and females, juveniles and non-breeding plumages, where appropriate.
- QR code for every species, linked to complementary audio-visual material.
- More than 620 full-colour range maps for all regularly occurring species.
- Well-marked subspecies groups receive full accounts, and the distributions of subspecies breeding in the region are clearly mapped.
- Local conservation status included.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding the Philippines!

 

3) Copete, Jose Luis (compiler). Mammals of China. 2020. Lynx Edicions. Paperback: 204 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.  

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This illustrated checklist covers China, a region with a great habitat diversity which is especially rich in mammalian life and attracts numerous wildlife watchers. Although not a traditional field guide, this book will equip both residents and visitors to the region with an easy-to-use resource that will allow them to quickly learn about the c. 600 species of mammals known to occur in the area.

     This book is part of the Lynx Illustrated Checklists Collection created from the massive amounts of data, illustrations, and maps compiled for the Handbook of the Mammals of the World series, that has been distilled into useful and portable books for your visit to a specific destination.

Highlighted features:
- Short descriptive texts
- Indications of the main habitats used
- Distribution maps that include the latest published data
- At least one illustration per species complemented in some cases by others showing differences between sexes, subspecies, or various colour morphs.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the mammals of China!

 


4) Sinclair, Ian et al..The Sasol Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa (Revised Edition). 2020. Struik Nature. Paperback: 488 pages. Price: $29.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This larger edition is based on the updated and expanded fifth edition of the authoritative Sasol Birds of Southern Africa, which has been brought fully up to date by an expert panel of ornithologists, with additional contributions from two new birding experts. Greatly enhanced, this comprehensive, best-selling guide is sure to maintain its place as one of Africa’s most trusted field guides. It offers:

• New ‘bird-call’ feature – access calls by scanning barcodes with a free downloadable call app.
• More than 800 new illustrations, including all-new plates for raptors and seabirds.
• Comprehensive coverage of all 989 of southern Africa’s birds, including latest species records.
• Redesigned plates with diagnostic features noted.
• Calendar bars depicting species’ occurrence and breeding periods.
• Fully updated species accounts and distribution maps.
• Fresh input from new contributing authors and illustrators.
• Alphabetical and illustrated quick references to bird groups.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding southern Africa! This title is also available in a regular field guide size.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

New Titles

 


1) Stevenson, Terry et al.. Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi Second Edition. 2020. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 638 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Birds of East Africa is widely regarded as one of the best field guides to any region of the world. Named a BirdTwitch Best Bird Book of the year for Africa when it was first published, it has become the go-to guide for anyone visiting this spectacular birding region, which is home to a remarkably diverse and colorful birdlife. Now this indispensable guide has been fully revised and updated to make it even better. Featuring revised text and distribution maps, the latest taxonomy, and much more, this comprehensive but compact guide describes and illustrates 1,388 species―all the resident, migrant, and vagrant birds of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi―in convenient facing-page layout. Featuring 289 color plates with more than 3,400 painstakingly rendered images, the guide depicts all the plumages and major races likely to be encountered. Introductory sections include information on conservation and where to send records, as well as maps of important bird areas. More than ever, this is the must-have guide for birding in East Africa.

  • The standard field guide to the birds of East Africa―now fully revised and updated
  • New edition features revised text and distribution maps, the latest taxonomy, and much more
  • Covers all 1,388 regularly occurring species, with more than 3,400 images on 289 color plates
  • Features concise, facing-page species accounts that cover identification features, status, range, habits, and voice
  • More than ever, the must-have guide for birding in East Africa

 RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding eastern Africa!

 

2) Taylor, Marianne. The Gull Next Door: A Portrait of a Misunderstood Bird. 2020. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 192 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: From a distance, gulls are beautiful symbols of freedom over the oceanic wilderness. Up close, however, they can be loud, aggressive and even violent. Yet gulls fascinate birdwatchers, and seafarers regard them with respect and affection. The Gull Next Door explores the natural history of gulls and their complicated relationship with humans.

     Marianne Taylor grew up in an English seaside town where gulls are ever present. Today, she is a passionate advocate for these underappreciated birds. In this book, Taylor looks at the different gull species and sheds light on all aspects of the lives of gulls―how they find food, raise families, socialize and migrate across sea, coastland and countryside. She discusses the herring gull, Britain's best-known and most persecuted gull species, whose numbers are declining at an alarming rate. She looks at gulls in legend, fiction and popular culture, and explains what we can do to protect gull populations around the world.

     The Gull Next Door reveals deeper truths about these remarkable birds. They are thinkers and innovators, devoted partners and parents. They lead long lives and often indulge their powerful drive to explore and travel. But for all these natural gifts, many gull species are struggling to survive in the wild places they naturally inhabit, which is why they are now exploiting the opportunities of human habitats. This book shows how we might live more harmoniously with these majestic yet misunderstood birds.

RECOMMENDATION: Lariphiles will enjoy this book.


 


3-4) Bannick, Paul. Snowy Owl and Great Gray Owl: A Visual Natural History. 2020. Mountaineers Books. Hardbound: 128 pages each. Price: $18.95 U.S. each. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:  The Snowy Owl--also known as the Arctic Owl, Snowy White Owl, and White Owl--is one of the most easily identified but least understood owls in the world.

    Award-winning author and photographer Paul Bannick delves into the natural history of this owl species, including the latest research, providing readers with comprehensive yet accessible looks at their preferred habitat, hunting and feeding behavior, mating and nesting actions, owlets and fledglings, and more.

     This beautiful book follows Bannick’s bestselling titles, The Owl and the Woodpecker and Owl, providing fans with another emotionally rich photographic portfolio and engaging, informative text.

      The Great Gray Owl--also known as the Phantom of the North, Great, Gray Ghost, and Bearded Owl--is one of the largest owl species and lives in the western mountains and boreal regions of North America.

       Award-winning author and photographer Paul Bannick delves into the natural history of this owl species, including the latest research, providing readers with comprehensive yet accessible looks at their preferred habitat, hunting and feeding behavior, mating and nesting actions, owlets and fledglings, and more.

       Bannick’s unique and gorgeous owl images are enhanced by additional images of the owls’ habitats and other species that share the Great Gray ecosystems. Throughout each narrative, his time in the field observing and photographing these enigmatic birds comes to life in evocative, experiential passages.

RECOMMENDATION: These two books are must haves for fans of Paul Bannick's photography!




5) Long, Kim. What Birds Eat: How to Preserve the Natural Diet and Behavior of North American Birds. 2020. Skipstone. Paperback: 367 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The more than 900 bird species in North America have natural diets ranging from seeds, foliage, nectar, and nuts to fish, insects, crustaceans, carrion, and mammals--and sometimes other birds! What Birds Eat explores the senses that birds depend on--sight, sound, odor, taste, and touch--and their food ingestion. Extensive feeding profiles then detail what various species eat naturally and how we can support those diets in backyards and feeders. What Birds Eat enriches our understanding, allowing us to engage more meaningfully with birds along the way.

RECOMMENDATION: A good general overview of the subject. 




6) Steller, Georg Wilhelm (author), Margritt A. Engel, et al. (translators). Eastbound through Siberia: Observations from the Great Northern Expedition. 2020. Indiana University Press. Paperback: 220 pages. Price: $32.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: In the winter of 1739, Georg Steller received word from Empress Anna of Russia that he was to embark on a secret expedition to the far reaches of Siberia as a member of the Great Northern Expedition. While searching for economic possibilities and strategic advantages, Steller was to send back descriptions of everything he saw. The Empress's instructions were detailed, from requests for a preserved whale brain to observing the child-rearing customs of local peoples, and Steller met the task with dedication, bravery, and a good measure of humor. In the name of science, Steller and his comrades confronted horse-swallowing bogs, leaped across ice floes, and survived countless close calls in their exploration of an unforgiving environment. Not stopping at lists of fishes, birds, and mammals, Steller also details the villages and the lives of those living there, from vice-governors to prostitutes. His writings rail against government corruption and the misuse of power while describing with empathy the lives of the poor and forgotten, with special attention toward Native peoples.


     What emerges is a remarkable window into life―both human and animal―in 18th century Siberia. Due to the secret nature of the expedition, Steller's findings were hidden in Russian archives for centuries, but the near-daily entries he recorded on journeys from the town of Irkutsk to Kamchatka are presented here in English for the first time.

RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in Georg Steller and/or Russian history. 


Thursday, December 10, 2020

BEST BIRD BOOKS OF 2020

The following are my picks for the best bird books of 2020:

BEST BOOK:

 


1) del Hoyo, Josep (Editor). All the Birds of the World. 2020. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 967 pages. Price: about $95.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The easiest and most enjoyable way to browse through all the birds of the world and compare them.

For the first time ever, you can literally contemplate All the Birds of the World together in a single, easy-to-use, fully-illustrated volume. Created for a broad audience, from novice birders to expert ornithologists and anyone interested in the spectacular diversity of birds, this fascinating book has something for everyone to discover.

- Presents every taxon accepted as species by any of the four major world lists: 11,524 species in total.
- Checkboxes for personal record-keeping (the boxes are hard to spot though).

- 20,865 illustrations covering sexual dimorphism, morphs and many distinctive subspecies.
- 11,558 distribution maps with altitudinal ranges included.
- All 3313 one-country endemic species marked.
- IUCN/BirdLife International conservation status given.
- Taxonomic treatment by the four major world lists indicated and compared.
- Nomenclatural discrepancies explained.
- All English and scientific names from eBird included.
- QR codes for instant access to videos, photos and sound recordings species-by-species.
- All species known to have become extinct since the year 1500 presented separately in their own appendix.
- A 37-page world atlas of colour reference maps with all the details that interest birders and ornithologists.
- The easiest and most enjoyable way to browse through all the birds of the world and compare them.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the World’s birds! The feature I like the most is the “ Taxonomic Circle” which compares the taxonomies of the four major World bird lists.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:


 

1) Norevik, Gabriel et al.. Ageing & Sexing of Migratory East Asian Passerines. 2020. Avium Förlag. Hardbound: 423 pages. Price: about $124.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This generously illustrated handbook covers 62 East Asian passerine species, including many that appear as sought-after vagrants in both Europe and North America. It provides a comprehensive and detailed summary of current knowledge, based on data and photographs of birds in the hand, collected during three years of study in China, primarily at Beidaihe, Hebei province.

The texts are presented in a pedagogical manner and, together with an ample collection of over 1,400 photographs, guide the reader through the process of determining the age and sex of the bird in both autumn and spring. This guide is an essential introduction to the subject for bird ringers/banders in China, and it will also prove indispensable for any birdwatcher with an interest in the ageing and sexing of East Asian passerines. This book is bilingual in English and Chinese.

RECOMMENDATION: Birders with a serious interest in Chinese/East Asian birds will want this book! Also, hardcore birders and bird record committee members outside the region will want it as a reference for those species covered.


 

2) Gregory, Phil. Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds: An Identification Guide. 2020. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 416 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Renowned for their dazzling plumages and elaborate courtship displays, birds of paradise and bowerbirds exhibit some of the most astonishing behaviors in the natural world. Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds is the ultimate identification guide to these marvelous birds. This beautiful book features stunning color plates that depict all 108 recognized taxa in these two groups along with more than 200 color photos that showcase a broad range of racial and age-related plumage varieties. The comprehensive text covers identification, taxonomy, and ecology, and is accompanied by detailed distribution maps. Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds is the product of more than two decades of research and field observations, and is a must-have guide for birders, ornithologists, and anyone interested in these sensational birds.

  • The ultimate identification guide to these marvelous birds of New Guinea and Australia
  • Features stunningly illustrated color plates that depict all 108 recognized taxa
  • Covers identification, taxonomy, and ecology
  • Includes hundreds of color photos and detailed distribution maps
  • Based on more than two decades of research and original field observations

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those interested in these species and/or collect bird family monographs.

 


3) Sibley, David. What It’s Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing — What Birds Are Doing, and Why (Sibley Guides). 2020. Knopf. Hardbound: 203 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The bird book for birders and nonbirders alike that will excite and inspire by providing a new and deeper understanding of what common, mostly backyard, birds are doing — and why. 
 “Can birds smell?” “Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?” “Do robins ‘hear’ worms?” In What It’s Like to Be a Bird, David Sibley answers the most frequently asked questions about the birds we see most often. This special, large-format volume is geared as much to nonbirders as it is to the out-and-out obsessed, covering more than two hundred species and including more than 330 new illustrations by the author. While its focus is on familiar backyard birds — blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees — it also examines certain species that can be fairly easily observed, such as the seashore-dwelling Atlantic puffin. David Sibley’s exacting artwork and wide-ranging expertise bring observed behaviors vividly to life. (For most species, the primary illustration is reproduced life-sized.) And while the text is aimed at adults — including fascinating new scientific research on the myriad ways birds have adapted to environmental changes — it is nontechnical, making it the perfect occasion for parents and grandparents to share their love of birds with young children, who will delight in the big, full-color illustrations of birds in action. Unlike any other book he has written, What It’s Like to Be a Bird is poised to bring a whole new audience to David Sibley’s world of birds.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for fans of Sibley’s works!


 

4) Slaght, Jonathan C.. Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl. 2020. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardbound: 348 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A field scientist and conservationist tracks the elusive Blakiston’s Fish Owl in the forbidding reaches of eastern Russia.
     When he was just a fledgling birdwatcher, Jonathan C. Slaght had a chance encounter with one of the most mysterious birds on Earth. Bigger than any owl he knew, it looked like a small bear with decorative feathers. He snapped a quick photo and shared it with experts. Soon he was on a five-year journey, searching for this enormous, enigmatic creature in the lush, remote forests of eastern Russia.  That first sighting set his calling as a scientist. 
      Despite a wingspan of six feet and a height of over two feet, the Blakiston’s fish owl is highly elusive. They are easiest to find in winter, when their tracks mark the snowy banks of the rivers where they feed. They are also endangered. And so, as Slaght and his devoted team set out to locate the owls, they aim to craft a conservation plan that helps ensure the species’ survival. This quest sends them on all-night monitoring missions in freezing tents, mad dashes across thawing rivers, and free-climbs up rotting trees to check nests for precious eggs. They use cutting-edge tracking technology and improvise ingenious traps. And all along, they must keep watch against a run-in with a bear or an Amur tiger. At the heart of Slaght’s story are the fish owls themselves: cunning hunters, devoted parents, singers of eerie duets, and survivors in a harsh and shrinking habitat. 
      Through this rare glimpse into the everyday life of a field scientist and conservationist, Owls of the Eastern Ice testifies to the determination and creativity essential to scientific advancement and serves as a powerful reminder of the beauty, strength, and vulnerability of the natural world.

RECOMMENDATION: A must read for those with an interest in owls.