1) Schlinger, Barney A.. The Wingsnappers: Lessons from an Exuberant Tropical Bird. 2023. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 225 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Birds, hormones, and extraordinary behavior: The story of the tiny but mighty golden-collared manakin of Panama.
The personal lives of investigators and the natural history of the Panamanian rainforest provide context for this account of the bird's fascinating behavior. Schlinger clearly and approachably explains basic concepts in disciplines such as avian anatomy, endocrinology, sexual differentiation, and the neurobiology of song and aeroacoustics, offering readers a window into the biology of this exuberant bird.
First her father recruits her to help him install a new batch of bees in the hive in her backyard. Then Mayor Shiffley recruits her to placate the NIMBYs (Not in my backyard), as she calls them – a group of newcomers to Caerphilly who have built McMansions next door to working farms and then do their best to make life miserable for the farmers. And finally Meg’s grandmother, shows up, trailed by a nosy reporter who is writing a feature on her for a genteel Southern ladies’ magazine.
Cordelia drafts Meg to accompany her and Deacon Washington of the New Life Baptist Church – and the reporter, alas – in their search for a long-lost African-American cemetery. Unfortunately what they discover is not an ancient cemetery but a fresh corpse. Can Meg protect her grandmother – and Caerphilly – from the reporter who seems to see the worst in everything . . . and help crack the case before the killer finds another victim?
Animals of all kinds are amply illustrated in Egyptian art, none more so than birds, in both secular and religious contexts and in hieroglyphic scripts. A great variety of bird species has for millennia made twice yearly migrations passing over Egypt, which is also an important overwintering area for many. These migrant birds, together with indigenous species were an abundant and easily exploited source of food for ancient Egyptians, for domestication and status display. Tomb scenes displaying birds provided as food for the deceased are abundant, as are procession scenes of offering with bearers bringing gifts of fowl. Many birds also had religious associations. Houlihan provides a systematic and unparalleled survey of all the bird life depicted by the ancient Egyptians in art and hieroglyphic writing, some 72 species (plus bats), with a list of known mummified species, and discussions on their religious and secular associations and many illustrations. Their present-day distributions are compared with that known from the time of the Pharaohs. A checklist of the birds of modern Egypt is provided by Steven Goodman.
This book traces the unassuming field naturalist’s path through a dramatic and turbulent era: from Hudson’s journey to Britain from Argentina in 1874 to the unveiling by the prime minister of a monument and bird sanctuary in his honour 50 years later, in the heart of Hyde Park – a place where the young immigrant had, for a time, slept rough. At its core, this extraordinary story reveals Hudson’s deep influence on the creation of his beloved Bird Society by its founding women, and the rise of the conservation movement. It reveals the strange magnetism of this mysterious man from the Pampas – unschooled, battle-scarred and once penniless – that made his achievements possible, and left such a profound impression on those who knew him.
By the end of his life, Hudson had Hollywood studios bidding for his work. He was a household name through his luminous and seminal nature writing, and the Bird Society had at last reached the climax of a 30-year campaign, working to create the first global alliance of bird protectionists. A century after Hudson’s death, this is a long-overdue tribute to perhaps our most significant – and most neglected – writer-naturalist and wildlife campaigner.
RECOMMENDATION: A must read for anyone with an interest in British ornithological history.
5) Kaizar, Sarah and A. Scott Meiser. Rare Air: Endangered Birds, Bats, Butterflies, & Bees. 2023. Mountaineers Books. Hardbound: 149 pages. Price: $21.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Rare Air, the culmination of
artist Sarah Kaizar’s dedication to illustrating endangered fauna,
features 66 endangered species of flight--33 birds, 5 bats, 12 bees, and
16 butterflies--presented in her scientifically accurate and utterly
engaging pen-and-ink style. Complementing the art are informative and
story-driven natural histories of each species by writer A. Scott
Meiser, as well as interviews with biologists who are working to sustain
some of the same species. An introduction highlights how Kaizar
developed this project, while the “How to Get Involved” appendix
provides helpful tips on actions readers can take to help these
Kaizar’s work informs readers about the world around them in a way that is beautiful and engaging, while also examining the environmental conditions that put these species at risk. Rare Air broadens the conversation about environmental study and inspires readers across the country to care for our winged creatures.
RECOMMENDATION: Kaizar's artwork highlights this book!
6) LoMedico Marriott, Kate et al.. Evolution of the Ammonoids. 2023. CRC Press. Paperback: 260 pages. Price: $79.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Ammonites are an extinct and charismatic lineage that persisted for over 300 million years. They were used, with other fossils, to corroborate the principle of faunal succession and launch the field of biostratigraphy. Despite intense research, many important questions remain unanswered. Furthermore, outdated hypotheses persist. Many new findings include a better understanding of their appearance in life, their locomotion, and their role in long-gone ecosystems. And, of course, there are still controversies; e.g. why did shell complexity increase during evolutionary history. This richly illustrated book describes the full range of ammonoids and their fascinating evolutionary history.
- Documents the early history of paleontology and the role played by ammonoids
- Describes the basic anatomy of a diverse and long-persisting lineage
- Summarizes the classification and diversity of ammonoids
- Lavishly illustrated with beautiful reconstructions
- Highlights recent findings and outstanding controversies
The book features more than 50 individual species profiles, themed chapters, stunning photographs, and specially commissioned paleo-illustrations of extinct species. It presents detailed accounts of these mammals’ evolutionary path, anatomy, behavior, habitats, and conservation. And because these are key species that complete many food chains and have the widest influence of all sea life, the book also offers insights into a broad variety of marine worlds today and in the future.
8) Engelbrecht, Ian. Field Guide to Scorpions of South Africa. 2023. Struik Nature. Paperback: 292 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: South Africa is home to an astonishing variety of scorpions, with
108 species in three families occurring in most of the region’s biomes,
from desert and grassland to fynbos, savanna and forest. Scorpions are
even found in urban gardens.
Field Guide to Scorpions of South Africa is the first comprehensive guide to describe and illustrate all known species in the country. The clear, detailed species accounts cover appearance, habitat and behavior, and discuss the variation within species according to region. Up-to-date distribution maps are included for all species and exceptional photographs, carefully worked to show astounding detail and vivid colors, bring to life the intricate patterning and colors of different species. Both males and females are presented, as well as a variety of color forms, facilitating accurate identification in the field.
The introduction discusses scorpion classification, anatomy, biology, behavior and habitat, as well as venomosity and the treatment of stings. Tips on how and where to find scorpions and how to contribute to their conservation as a citizen scientist are also included. An invaluable tool for students, researchers, academics, hikers and anyone with an interest in South Africa’s rich and fascinating fauna.
RECOMMENDATION: This book is a must have for anyone with an interest in the region's scorpions!
9) Beolens, Bo et al. (editors). Eponym Dictionary of Fishes. 2023. Whittles Publishing. Hardbound: 1463 pages. Price: $90.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The Eponym Dictionary is a series of brief but concise biographies of all those people after whom fish have been named in both the vernacular and scientific names. It also covers names which seem to be eponyms but are not, such as toponyms, names of organisations, ethnic groups, etc. It also shows the networks of scientific collaboration, friendship or patronage. Each species named after an individual is listed with their authors and years for context and wherever possible it is shown how the authors and the eponym are linked.
Every effort has been made to be accurate and meticulous, and the book is also a repository of biographical knowledge that will entertain as well as inform. In conjunction with the other books it forms a database of everyone named in a vertebrate. For ease of use, this volume is designed as a dictionary, making it easy to find the person behind the name and, in doing so, discover which fish commemorates them and learn something of their lives and background.
Some brief entries summarise whole volumes of biography, especially those honoured in a name because of their standing in society rather than their scientific behaviour. There is a vast range of derivations related not just to scientists, zoologists and scholars, but also pop stars, TV and film personalities and writers. There is a whole world of aquarists and fish hobbyists, many of whom have been immortalised for adding to our knowledge of tropical fish. The Eponym Dictionary of Fishes is a web of relationships and connections, icons and idols.
RECOMMENDATION: This book is a must have for anyone with a serious interest in ichthyological nomenclature!