Sunday, November 27, 2022

New Titles


1) Myers, Susan. The Bird Name Book: A History of English Bird Names. 2022. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 416 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The Bird Name Book is an alphabetical reference book on the origins and meanings of common group bird names, from “accentor” to “zeledonia.” A cornucopia of engaging facts and anecdotes, this superbly researched compendium presents a wealth of incisive entries alongside stunning photos by the author and beautiful historic prints and watercolors. Myers provides brief biographies of prominent figures in ornithology―such as John Gould, John Latham, Alfred Newton, and Robert Ridgway―and goes on to describe the etymological history of every common group bird name found in standardized English. She interweaves the stories behind the names with quotes from publications dating back to the 1400s, illuminating the shared evolution of language and our relationships with birds, and rooting the names in the history of ornithological discovery.

     Whether you are a well-traveled birder or have ever wondered how the birds in your backyard got their names,
The Bird Name Book is an ideal companion.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in ornithological etymology!


2) De Roy, Tui. A Pocket Guide to Birds of Galápagos. 2022. Princeton University Press. Flexibound: 136 pages. Price: $17.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A lifelong resident of Galápagos, Tui De Roy has been observing, studying, and photographing the islands’ astonishing birdlife for sixty years. In A Pocket Guide to Birds of Galápagos, she distills everything she has learned to create a one-of-a-kind field guide that every birder visiting the archipelago will want to carry with them wherever they go.

     A compact yet comprehensive combination of field guide and natural history, the book features more than 600 of De Roy’s superb photographs and is packed with detailed, easy-to-access information in bullet-point format. Every resident bird species is fully described and abundantly illustrated, showing different aspects of their life cycle, habitat, and behavior. And the islands’ most iconic bird group―Darwin’s Finches―is given special attention. With precise descriptions including plumage and beak variations, the book corrects many common identification errors about this group.

     Unique in design and content,
A Pocket Guide to Birds of Galápagos is a must-have for all wildlife enthusiasts traveling to this fabled archipelago―and anyone who wants to better understand its spectacular birds.

  • A compact yet comprehensive photographic identification guide
  • Covers all resident species and frequent migrants
  • Features more than 600 of Tui De Roy’s superb color photographs
  • Includes distribution maps and easy-to-find information for identifying and understanding each species, including life cycles, habits, range, and conservation status

RECOMMENDATION: Also available from Princeton University Press is: Galápagos: A Natural History (Second Edition) by John Kricher and Kevin Loughlin. Both these titles are a must have for any naturalist interested in the Galapagos Islands!



3) O’Connor, Jingmai. When Dinosaurs Conquered the Skies: The incredible story of bird evolution. 2022. words & pictures. Hardbound: 64 pages. Price: $

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: What are birds, and where did they come from? Discover fascinating facts about bird evolution, including:

  • How the oldest bird fossils are about 150 million years old.
  • That birds evolved from a group of meat-eating dinosaurs called theropods. That’s the same group that Tyrannosaurus Rex belonged to, although birds evolved from small theropods. 
  • How these ancient birds looked quite a lot like small, feathered dinosaurs and they had much in common. Their mouths still contained sharp teeth.
  • That over time, birds lost their teeth and evolved beaks.
      And more! The story of bird evolution is fascinating, and When Dinosaurs Conquered the Skies explores this incredible history in a digestible, accessible way. This book from the successful Incredible Evolution series proves that fact can definitely be stranger and more exciting than fiction! Can you imagine coming face-to-face with a toothy pigeon?!

digestible information and absorbing illustrations, young readers will be given an insight into how dinosaurs evolved flight and conquered the skies.

      This book is from the Incredible Evolution series, a fascinating, informative collection of books which examine the development of life on earth. Other titles available include: When Plants Took Over the PlanetWhen We Became Humans, and When the Whales Walked.

RECOMMENDATION: For ages 8 - 12 years. A must read for any kid with an interest in dinosaurs and their relatives the birds!


4) Clavreul, Denis. In the Footsteps of Audubon. 2022. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 242 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: In the nineteenth century, ornithologist and painter John James Audubon set out to create a complete pictorial record of North American birdlife, traveling from Louisiana and the Florida Keys to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the cliffs of the Yellowstone River. The resulting work, The Birds of America, stands as a monumental achievement in American art. Over a period of sixteen years, recording his own journey in journals and hundreds of original paintings, renowned French watercolorist Denis Clavreul followed in the naturalist’s footsteps.

     In the Footsteps of Audubon brings together some 250 of Clavreul’s stunning watercolors along with illuminating selections from Audubon’s journals and several of his paintings. With pencil and brush in hand, Clavreul turns his naturalist’s eye and painterly skill to the landscapes that Audubon encountered on his travels, and to the animals and plants that Audubon depicted in his art. A passionate ornithologist, Clavreul sketches birds in the wild with rare dexterity, bringing them vividly to life on the page. He documents his encounters along the way with people who live with nature, many of whom are passionately engaged in preserving it, drawing on his insights as both a biologist and an artist to connect the past, present, and future.

      A spellbinding, richly evocative journey,
In the Footsteps of Audubon is an invitation to see the natural world as Audubon saw it―and to see with new eyes what it has become today.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an in interest Audubon and/or bird art!


5) Wilson, Helen F.. Robin (Animal Series). 2022. Reaktion Books. Paperback: 196 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The [European] robin is a small bird with a distinctive ruddy breast, at once a British national treasure and a bird with a global reputation. In this superbly illustrated account, Helen F. Wilson looks at many aspects of the cherished robin, from its status as a harbinger of seasonal change and, in the United Kingdom, an icon of Christmas, to its place in fairy tales, environmental campaigns, and scientific discovery. In moving between cultural and natural histories, Robin asks wide-ranging questions, such as how did the robin’s name travel the world? Why is the robin so melancholy? Who was Cock Robin? And how has the history of the color red shaped the robin’s ambivalent associations and unusual origin stories?

RECOMMENDATION: A must read for those with an interest in the European Robin.


6) Reid, Fiona A. and Gianfranco Gómez Zamora. Pocket Guide to the Mammals of Costa Rica. 2022.  Comstock Publishing Associates. Paperback: 286 pages. Price: $

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Pocket Guide to the Mammals of Costa Rica is the first guide to provide comprehensive coverage of every currently known mammal species found in Costa Rica. From the Central American Silky Anteater to the West Indian Manatee, Fiona A. Reid and Gianfranco Gómez Zamora introduce readers to over 200 species inhabiting the country and its waters. This pocket guide features:

• 60 plates with full-color illustrations and over 100 photographs
• An illustrated introduction covering the history of mammalogy in Costa Rica, how to find mammals, and more
• Up-to-date species accounts, range maps, and natural history vignettes 

     Lavishly illustrated and highly portable, the Pocket Guide to the Mammals of Costa Rica is indispensable for biologists, eco-tourists, and naturalists eager to learn more about the mammalian fauna of this small but biologically rich country.

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



7) Paul, Gregory S.. The Princeton Field Guide to Mesozoic Sea Reptiles. 2022. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 208 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.  

PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: New discoveries are revealing that many ancient oceangoing reptiles were energetic animals capable of inhabiting an array of watery habitats and climates, including polar winters. The Princeton Field Guide to Mesozoic Sea Reptiles provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive coverage of the great Mesozoic groups that commanded the seas for tens of millions of years. This incredible field guide covers 435 species and features stunning illustrations of swimming reptiles ranging in size from little lizards to others with great necks longer than their bodies. It discusses the history of sea reptiles through 185 million years of the Mesozoic, their anatomy, physiology, locomotion, reproduction and growth, and extinction, and even gives a taste of what it might be like to travel back to the Mesozoic. This one-of-a-kind guide also challenges the common image of these reptiles as giants of the prehistoric waters, showing how the largest weighed far less than today’s biggest whales.

  • Features detailed species accounts of 435 different kinds of sea reptiles, with the latest size and mass estimates
  • Written and illustrated by the acclaimed researcher and artist who helped to redefine our understanding of dinosaur anatomy
  • Describes placodonts, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs, sea snakes, sea turtles, marine crocs, and more
  • Covers everything from biology to the colorful history of sea reptile paleontology
  • Includes dozens of original skeletal drawings and full-color life scenes

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in these extinct marine reptiles!


8) Darwin, Charles. On The Origin of Species: Evolutionary Edition. 2014. Simon Phillipson. Paperback: 964 pages. Price: $27.00 Euros (about $28.00 U.S.).

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This "evolutionary edition" is a typographic inspired variorum edition of On the Origin of Species that highlights all the linguistic changes Charles Darwin introduced to the book since its first publication in 1859, by presenting them alongside the complete sixth and final edition of the book later published in 1872. The evolutionary format of this book allows you to compare all the alterations Darwin made over thirteen years due to his further understanding and testing on his own theories.

     The book is printed on 30gsm semi-translucent ‘bible paper’. The text is printed with black and special metallic bronze ink. The special double fold-out of Charles Darwin’s ‘Tree of Life’ diagram that was included in the original book from 1872 also features in this book.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in Darwin's writings! The book can be ordered here.


9) Bashford, Alison. The Huxleys: An Intimate History of Evolution. 2022. University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 529 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Two hundred years of modern science and culture told through one family history.

     This momentous biography tells the story of the Huxleys: the Victorian natural historian T. H. Huxley (“Darwin’s Bulldog”) and his grandson, the scientist, conservationist, and zoologist Julian Huxley. Between them, they communicated to the world the great modern story of the theory of evolution by natural selection. In The Huxleys, celebrated historian Alison Bashford writes seamlessly about these omnivorous intellects together, almost as if they were a single man whose long, vital life bookended the colossal shifts in world history from the age of sail to the Space Age, and from colonial wars to world wars to the cold war.

      The Huxleys’ specialty was evolution in all its forms—at the grandest level of species, deep time, the Earth, and at the most personal and intimate. They illuminated the problems and wonders of the modern world and they fundamentally shaped how we see ourselves, as individuals and as a species.

      But perhaps their greatest subject was themselves. Bashford’s engaging, brilliantly ambitious book interweaves the Huxleys’ momentous public achievements with their private triumphs and tragedies. The result is the history of a family, but also a history of humanity grappling with its place in nature. This book shows how much we owe—for better or worse—to the unceasing curiosity, self-absorption, and enthusiasms of a small, strange group of men and women.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the history of science!


Sunday, October 30, 2022

New Titles


1) Tuttle-Adams, Linda. Baby Bird Identification: A North American Guide. 2022. Comstock/Cornell University Press. Paperback: 401 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Baby Bird Identification is a comprehensive illustrated guide for distinguishing hundreds of North American bird species in their early stages of life. From the just hatched to the fledgling, Linda Tuttle-Adams walks readers through the process of identifying baby birds that they may encounter in the wild―a first step to ensuring proper care and rehabilitation.

     Successful rehabilitation of birds found in the wild requires species-specific attention. But the identification of a baby bird, whether altricial or precocial, may seem overwhelming at first, even to a trained ornithologist. Tuttle-Adams lays out an approachable and systematic method for discerning a baby bird's identity, offering descriptions of telling anatomical and environmental features as well as details of a bird's day-to-day growth.

      With over four hundred original watercolor paintings and an illustrated glossary, Baby Bird Identification is an invaluable resource for wildlife rehabilitators, those who find baby birds in their yards or recreational places, and anyone who enjoys watching or studying birds in the wild.

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all bird rehabilitators in the continental United States and Canada!  



2) Walther, Michael and Julian P. Hume. Extinct Birds of Hawaii (Second Edition). 2022. Mutual Publishing. Hardbound: 260 pages. Price: $23.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Extinct Birds of Hawai'i captures the vanishing world of unique bird species that has slipped away in the Islands mostly due to human frivolity and unconcern. Richly illustrated, including paintings by Julian P. Hume (many painted specifically for this volume), it enables us to enjoy vicariously avian life unique to Hawai'i that exists no longer. Extinct Birds of Hawai'i also sends a powerful message: Although Hawai'i is well-known for its unique scenic beauty and its fascinating native flora, fauna, bird and marine life, it is also called the extinction capital of the world. The Islands' seventy-seven bird species and sub-species extinctions account for approximately fifteen percent of global bird extinctions during the last seven-hundred years. On some islands over eighty percent of the original land bird species are now extinct. 

     This new edition includes many new paintings, photographs, charts, and updates on all of the recently extinct species. The extinction of an entire family, the Mohoidae, receives expanded coverage and new artwork.

     With the many agents of extinction still operating in the Islands' forests, Hawai'i's remaining native land birds are at a high risk of being lost forever. Many birdwatchers, nature lovers, and eco-tourists are unaware of the tremendous loss of species that has occurred in this remote archipelago. Extinct Birds of Hawai'i shows the bird life that has been lost and calls attention to the urgent need for preservation action.
RECOMMENDATION: The page count has increased from 238 to 260. Julian P. Hume's artwork highlights this book! This title is a must have for those with an interest in extinct birds!

3) Millet, Lydia. Dinosaurs: A Novel. 2022. W. W. Norton. Hardbound: 230 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Over twelve novels and two collections Lydia Millet has emerged as a major American novelist. Hailed as "a writer without limits" (Karen Russell) and "a stone-cold genius" (Jenny Offill), Millet makes fiction that vividly evokes the ties between people and other animals and the crisis of extinction.

     Her exquisite new novel is the story of a man named Gil who walks from New York to Arizona to recover from a failed love. After he arrives, new neighbors move into the glass-walled house next door and his life begins to mesh with theirs. In this warmly textured, drily funny, and philosophical account of Gil’s unexpected devotion to the family, Millet explores the uncanny territory where the self ends and community begins―what one person can do in a world beset by emergencies.

      Dinosaurs is both sharp-edged and tender, an emotionally moving, intellectually resonant novel that asks: In the shadow of existential threat, where does hope live?

RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's other books, you will enjoy this one!




4) Contreras, Alan, Vjera Thompson, and Nolan Clements (editors). A History of Oregon Ornithology: From Territorial Days to the Rise of Birding. 2022. Oregon State University Press. Paperback: 284 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The study of birds was, in its early years, often driven by passionate amateurs in a localized context. A History of Oregon Ornithology takes readers  from the Lewis and Clark expedition, through the professionalization of the field, and to the mid-twentieth century, focusing on how birding and related amateur field observation grew outside the realms of academia and conservation agencies.
     Editors Alan Contreras, Vjera Thompson, and Nolan Clements have assembled chapters exploring the differences and interplay between the amateur and professional study of birds, along with discussions of early birding societies, notable observers, and ornithological studies. The book includes chapters on such significant ornithologists as Charles Bendire, William L. Finley, Ira Gabrielson, Stanley Jewett, and David B. Marshall. It also notes the sometimes-overlooked contributions of women to our expanding knowledge of western birds. Special attention is paid to the development of seabird observation, the impact of the Internet, and the rise of digital resources for bird observers.
     Intended for readers interested in the history of Oregon, scientific explorations in the West, and the origins of modern birding and field ornithology, 
A History of Oregon Ornithology offers a detailed and entertaining account of the study of birds in the Pacific Northwest.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in Oregon's ornithological history!


5) Goodison, Natalie Jayne. Introducing the Medieval Swan. 2022. University of Wales Press. Paperback: 197 pages. Price: $15.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Swans possess a striking beauty, and they are imbued with a sense of regal mystery that makes them some of the most fascinating of wild creatures. Introducing the Medieval Swan traces those characteristics to their roots in the medieval era. Opening with a study of the natural history of the swan as understood in the period, the book then moves to literary motifs that feature swans transforming into humans, particularly the legend of the Knight of the Swan. The third chapter examines the place of the swan as an icon of the Lancasters, and the book then explores the swan’s place as a delicacy at extravagant feasts. Finally, we learn how the characteristics the medieval era associated with swans developed over the centuries to the present.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in medieval history and/or swans.

6) Flores, Dan. Wild New World: The Epic Story of Animals and People in America. 2022. W. W. Norton & Company. Hardbound: 448 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: In 1908, near Folsom, New Mexico, a cowboy discovered the remains of a herd of extinct giant bison. By examining flint points embedded in the bones, archeologists later determined that a band of humans had killed and butchered the animals 12,450 years ago. This discovery vastly expanded America’s known human history but also revealed the long-standing danger Homo sapiens presented to the continent’s evolutionary richness.

     Distinguished author Dan Flores’s ambitious history chronicles the epoch in which humans and animals have coexisted in the “wild new world” of North America―a place shaped both by its own grand evolutionary forces and by momentous arrivals from Asia, Africa, and Europe. With portraits of iconic creatures such as mammoths, horses, wolves, and bison, Flores describes the evolution and historical ecology of North America like never before.

      The arrival of humans precipitated an extraordinary disruption of this teeming environment. Flores treats humans not as a species apart but as a new animal entering two continents that had never seen our likes before. He shows how our long past as carnivorous hunters helped us settle America, initially establishing a coast-to-coast culture that lasted longer than the present United States. But humanity’s success had devastating consequences for other creatures. In telling this epic story, Flores traces the origins of today’s “Sixth Extinction” to the spread of humans around the world; tracks the story of a hundred centuries of Native America; explains how Old World ideologies precipitated 400 years of market-driven slaughter that devastated so many ancient American species; and explores the decline and miraculous recovery of species in recent decades.

      In thrilling narrative style, informed by genomic science, evolutionary biology, and environmental history, Flores celebrates the astonishing bestiary that arose on our continent and introduces the complex human cultures and individuals who hastened its eradication, studied America’s animals, and moved heaven and earth to rescue them. Eons in scope and continental in scale, Wild New World is a sweeping yet intimate Big History of the animal-human story in America.

RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's other books, you will enjoy this one!


7) Thorogood, Chris. Chasing Plants: Journeys with a Botanist through Rainforests, Swamps, and Mountains. 2022. Kew/University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 288 pages. Price: $27.50 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: From an acclaimed botanist and artist, a thrilling and beautifully illustrated expedition around the globe in search of the world’s most extraordinary plants.

     After making a strange discovery on a childhood trip to Ikea—a stand of sap-sucking, leafless broomrapes, stealing nutrients from their neighbors’ roots—Chris Thorogood dreamed of becoming a botanist and would stop at nothing to feed his growing addiction to plants. In his hair-raising adventures across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, Thorogood treads a death-defying path over cliffs, up erupting volcanoes, through typhoons, and out into the very heart of the world’s vast, green wilderness. Along the way, he encounters pitcher plants, irises, and orchids more heart-piercingly beautiful than could ever be imagined.
       But with Thorogood as our guide in
Chasing Plants, we not only imagine: we see. An internationally acclaimed botanical illustrator, Thorogood conjures his adventures spent seed-collecting and conserving plants around the world back to life in his electric paintings, which feature throughout the book. They bring plants out of the shadows, challenging us to see their intrigue and their character, and helping us to understand why plant species must be protected. To join Thorogood in his wild adventures is to be cast under his green spell: readers will never think of plants the same way again.
RECOMMENDATION: The author's artwork is worth the price of the book alone!

8) Gruesser, John Cullen (editor). Animals in the American Classics: How Natural History Inspired Great Fiction. 2022. Texas A&M University Press. Hardbound: 298 pages. Price: $38.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: As defined by conservation biologist Thomas Fleishner, natural history is “a practice of intentional, focused receptivity to the more-than-human world . . . one of the oldest continuous human traditions.” Seldom is this idea so clearly reflected as in classic works of American fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

     John Cullen Gruesser’s edited volume Animals in the American Classics: How Natural History Inspired Great Fiction features essays by prominent literary scholars that showcase natural history and the multifaceted role of animals in well-known works of fiction, from Washington Irving in the early nineteenth century to Cormac McCarthy in the late twentieth century, and including short stories and novels by Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, John Steinbeck, and Harper Lee.

     As an introduction to or a new way of thinking about some of the best-known and most beloved literary texts this nation has produced, Animals in the American Classics considers fundamental questions of ethics and animal intelligence as well as similarities among racism, ageism, misogyny, and speciesism.  

      With their awareness of Poe’s “more-than-casual knowledge of natural science,” Mark Twain’s proto–animal rights sensibilities, and Hurston’s training as an anthropologist, the contributors show that by drawing attention to and thinking like an animal, fiction tests the limits of humanity.

RECOMMENDATION: A must read for anyone with an interest in American literature.    


9) Kowal, Mary Robinette. The Spare Man. 2022. Tor Trade. Paperback: 357 pages. Price: $19.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Hugo, Locus, and Nebula-Award winner Mary Robinette Kowal blends her no-nonsense approach to life in space with her talent for creating glittering high-society in this stylish SF mystery, The Spare Man.