Sunday, April 24, 2022

New Titles


1) De Roy, Tui, Mark Jones, and Julie Cornthwaite. Penguins: The Ultimate Guide (Second Edition). 2022. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 240 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: An acclaimed photographic guide to these marvelous and enigmatic birds―now in a new, updated edition. 

     Penguins are perhaps the most beloved birds. On land, their behavior appears so humorous and expressive that we can be excused for attributing to them moods and foibles similar to our own. Few realize how complex and mysterious their private lives truly are, as most of their existence takes place far from our prying eyes, hidden beneath the ocean waves. Now in a new, updated edition, this stunningly illustrated book provides a unique look at these extraordinary creatures and the cutting-edge science that is helping us to better understand them. Featuring more than 400 breathtaking photos, this is the ultimate guide to all 18 species of penguins, including those with retiring personalities or nocturnal habits that tend to be overlooked and rarely photographed. This revised second edition features updated scientific information and some spectacular new photographs.

     Penguins is the most ambitious book to date by Tui De Roy, Mark Jones, and Julie Cornthwaite. Their travels, spanning more than two decades, have seen them crisscross the southern hemisphere to virtually everywhere that penguins are found, from the sun-baked lava shores of the Gal├ípagos to some of the remotest subantarctic islands, as well as all around the Antarctic continent, where Emperor penguins breed on the deep-frozen sea.

     A book that no bird enthusiast or armchair naturalist should do without,
Penguins includes discussions of penguin conservation, informative species profiles, fascinating penguin facts, and tips on where to see penguins in the wild.

  • Covers all 18 species of the world’s penguins
  • Features more than 400 stunning photos
  • Explores the latest science on penguins and their conservation
  • Includes informative species profiles and fascinating penguin facts. 
RECOMMENDATION: This well illustrated title is a must have for penguin fans!

2) Shaffer, Fred. Gulls of North America. 2022. Schiffer. Paperback: 287 pages. Price: $19.99 U.S. 
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Although they are familiar and amusing characters, gulls are frequently dismissed as common "parking lot" birds or because their diverse species can be hard to identify. Both assumptions disregard the beauty and grace of gulls, which are among the most approachable of North America's birds. This photographic field guide provides a user-friendly introduction to the plumages of 27 North American gull species in different stages of maturity. Ranging in size from the dovelike Little Gull to the eagle-like Great Black-backed Gull, their behavior and habitats are equally varied. With more than 500 color photos, detailed captions, and foldout comparison guides, this book allows readers to better appreciate these charismatic birds by learning shortcuts for easy identification in the field. 

RECOMMENDATION: Best for beginning birders.


3) Bowser, Tom. A Sky Full of Kites: A Rewilding Story. 2021. Birlinn. Paperback: 256 pages. Price: $

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Red kites were once Britain’s most common bird of prey. By the early 1900s they'd been wiped out in Scotland and England following centuries of ruthless persecution. When some reintroduced kites began roosting on their 1,400-acre farm at Argaty in Perthshire, Tom Bowser’s parents, Lynn and Niall, decided to turn their estate into a safe haven. They began feeding the birds and invited the world to come and see them, learn about them and fall in love with them.

     A Sky Full of Kites is the story of the Argaty Red Kite project, and the re-establishing of these magnificent raptors to Scotland, but it is also much more than that. Ill at ease with the traditional rural values of livestock farming, Lynn and Niall’s son Tom, who returned to work on the farm after a career in journalism, reveals his passion for nature and his desire to dedicate his family’s land to conservation.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in Red Kites and/or raptor conservation!


4) Schwartz, Christopher W. et al. (editors). Birds of the Sun: Macaws and People in the U.S. Southwest and Mexican Northwest. 2022. The University of Arizona Press. Hardbound: 359 pages. Price: $70.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Scarlet macaws are native to tropical forests ranging from the Gulf Coast and southern regions of Mexico to Bolivia, but they are present at numerous archaeological sites in the U.S. Southwest and Mexican Northwest. Although these birds have been noted and marveled at through the decades, new syntheses of early excavations, new analytical methods, and new approaches to understanding the past now allow us to explore the significance and distribution of scarlet macaws to a degree that was previously impossible.

     Birds of the Sun explores the many aspects of macaws, especially scarlet macaws, that have made them important to Native peoples living in this region for thousands of years. Leading experts discuss the significance of these birds, including perspectives from a Zuni author, a cultural anthropologist specializing in historic Pueblo societies, and archaeologists who have studied pre-Hispanic societies in Mesoamerica and the U.S. Southwest and Mexican Northwest. Chapters examine the highly variable distribution and frequency of macaws in the past, their presence on rock art and kiva murals, the human experience of living with and transporting macaws, macaw biology and life history, and what skeletal remains suggest about the health of macaws in the past. Experts provide an extensive, region-by-region analysis, from early to late periods, of what we know about the presence, health, and depositional contexts of macaws and parrots, with specific case studies from the Hohokam, Chaco, Mimbres, Mogollon Highlands, Northern Sinagua, and Casas Grandes regions, where these birds are most abundant.

      The expertise offered in this stunning new volume, which includes eight full color pages, will lay the groundwork for future research for years to come.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with a serious interest in macaws!



5) Beintema, Albert J.. The Remotest Island. 2022. New Generation Publishing. Paperback: 366 pages. Price: $24.10 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Tristan da Cunha, Britain's remotest territory, lies in the middle of the South Atlantic, halfway Cape Town and Buenos Aires. It has a fascinating history, yielding many good stories. Tristan has about 250 inhabitants, who grow potatoes, fish for lobsters, and sell postal stamps.

     The Tristan archipelago hosts millions of seabirds and a handful of peculiar, endemic landbirds. Half a century ago, Albert Beintema stumbled upon the story of a mysterious flightless Moorhen of Tristan da Cunha, called Island Cock, which became extinct more than a hundred years ago, and which, according to the islanders and some scientists, did not even ever exist. Beintema unraveled the history of this strange bird, and brings it back to life, together with lots of other stories about the island. Over a period of almost thirty years he has been to Tristan da Cunha fourteen times. The Remotest Island also includes chapters on Tristan's 'sister islands' South Georgia, Saint Helena and Ascension.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in extinct birds and/or oceanic islands! 

6) Halliday, Thomas. Otherlands: A Journey Through Earth's Extinct Worlds. 2022. Random House. Hardcover: 385 pages. Price: $28.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The past is past, but it does leave clues, and Thomas Halliday has used cutting-edge science to decipher them more completely than ever before. In Otherlands, Halliday makes sixteen fossil sites burst to life on the page.

     This book is an exploration of the Earth as it used to exist, the changes that have occurred during its history, and the ways that life has found to adapt―or not. It takes us from the savannahs of Pliocene Kenya to watch a python chase a group of australopithecines into an acacia tree; to a cliff overlooking the salt pans of the empty basin of what will be the Mediterranean Sea just as water from the Miocene Atlantic Ocean spills in; into the tropical forests of Eocene Antarctica; and under the shallow pools of Ediacaran Australia, where we glimpse the first microbial life. 

     Otherlands also offers us a vast perspective on the current state of the planet. The thought that something as vast as the Great Barrier Reef, for example, with all its vibrant diversity, might one day soon be gone sounds improbable. But the fossil record shows us that this sort of wholesale change is not only possible but has repeatedly happened throughout Earth history.

      Even as he operates on this broad canvas, Halliday brings us up close to the intricate relationships that defined these lost worlds. In novelistic prose that belies the breadth of his research, he illustrates how ecosystems are formed; how species die out and are replaced; and how species migrate, adapt, and collaborate. It is a breathtaking achievement: a surprisingly emotional narrative about the persistence of life, the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, and the scope of deep time, all of which have something to tell us about our current crisis.
RECOMMENDATION: A must read for anyone with an interest in Earth's history and/or fossils!

7) Chinsamy-Turan, Anusuya. Dinosaurs of Africa. 2021. Penguin Random House South Africa. Paperback: 64 pages. Price: $10.26 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: As much of the African continent is covered in dense vegetation, dinosaur fossils have been relatively rare. Yet parts of the continent – from the Sahara Desert and the dusty plains of Kenya and Tanzania to the sandstone flats of the Karoo – have yielded a significant number of these fascinating creatures, thereby making an important contribution to the science of palaeontology.

     A brief general introduction on the subject is followed by short chapters on different dinosaur species, including fish-eating, sociable, and predatory dinosaurs, as well as the biggest meat-eating dinosaur of all time. Details are given about where these creatures were found, the meaning of their scientific names, and their size and diet.

     Spectacular, colorful illustrations bring the dinosaurs vividly to life; photographs, maps, and line drawings further illustrate the subject; and a variety of information boxes add to the intrigue.

     Previously published as
Famous Dinosaurs of Africa, this revised edition includes newly discovered species, the latest scientific information, and vibrant new illustrations. Although written for children, it is sure to have broad appeal for anyone interested in learning more about dinosaurs.
RECOMMENDATION: For grades: 3 - 4. Luis V. Rey's artwork highlights this book!


Monday, March 28, 2022

New Titles


1) Lees, Alexander and James Gilroy. Vagrancy in Birds. 2022. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 400 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Avian vagrancy―the appearance of birds outside of their expected habitat―is a phenomenon that has fascinated natural historians for centuries, from Victorian collectors willing to spend fortunes on a rare specimen to today’s bird-chasing “twitchers.” Yet despite the obsessions of countless ornithologists, what do we actually know about the enigma of vagrancy? In Vagrancy in Birds, Alexander Lees and James Gilroy explore the causes, patterns, and processes behind the occurrences of these unique birds.

     Lees and Gilroy draw on recent research to answer fundamental questions: What causes avian vagrancy? Why do some places attract so many vagrant birds? Why are some species more predisposed to long-range vagrancy than others? The authors present readers with everything known about the subject, and bring together different lines of evidence to make the case for vagrancy as a biological phenomenon with important implications for avian ecology and evolution.

     Filled with a wealth of photographs, Vagrancy in Birds will fascinate avian enthusiasts everywhere.

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in this aspect of bird migration!


2) Howe, William H. (editor). New Mexico Bird Finding Guide: Fourth Edition. 2022. New Mexico Ornithological Society/Outskirts Press. Paperback: 404 pages. Price: $38.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: New Mexico has the 4th highest bird diversity of any state in the U.S. with nearly 550 species documented within its borders including over 300 species known to breed. At a biological crossroad between east and west and north and south, the state's birdlife is influenced by the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, Great Basin and Chihuahuan deserts, and the sierras of northwest Mexico. An elevational range from lowland desert and rivers below 3,000 feet to alpine tundra over 13,000 feet also greatly contributes to its diversity. This Fourth Edition of the New Mexico Bird Finding Guide contains chapters covering each of the state's 33 counties addressing nearly 400 birding locations to explore. These include easily accessed, well known destinations as well as sites that are obscure and remote. Detailed maps, directions, and lists of expected and 'specialty' species accompany each location. The guide also includes an annotated checklist presenting the status, distribution, frequency, and abundance, for all species recorded in the state. This will be a valuable reference for resident and visiting birders alike.

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone birding New Mexico! 



3) Leichter, Jill (editor). All About Birds Northwest: Northwest US and Canada. 2022. Princeton University Press/The Cornell Lab Publishing Group. Paperback: 296 pages. Price: $17.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The All About Birds Regional Field-Guide Series brings birding enthusiasts the best information from the renowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website,, used by more than 21 million people each year. These definitive books provide the most up-to-date resources and expert coverage on bird species throughout North America.

     This dynamic guide is the perfect companion for anyone interested in the birds of the northwestern United States and western Canada. The guide offers fascinating details about the birds around you, useful bird ID tips, and handy bird-watching information. It presents full accounts of the 213 species most commonly seen in these regions; beautiful photographs of male, female, and immature birds, as well as morphs, and breeding and nonbreeding plumage (so you can ID birds all year long); current range maps; and so much more. The northwestern USA and western Canada edition of All About Birds is easy to use and easy to share.

     This volume features the following states, provinces, and territories: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, British Columbia, Yukon, and western Northwest Territories.

  • Descriptions of 213 bird species, including four photos for each bird chosen specifically for better ID and sourced from the Macaulay Library (a collection of bird photos from citizen scientists)
  • Quick and easy index with illustrations on cover flaps, with complete index at the back
  • Information on Cornell Lab citizen-science programs and how to participate
  • Bonus content includes identification best practices and tips on bird photography, birdscaping, food and feeding, and more
  • Free MERLIN Bird ID app (downloaded more than 5 million times) for quick ID in the wild using photos and birdsong 

RECOMMENDATION: Best for beginning birders.


4) Gorman, Gerard. The Wryneck. 2022. Pelagic Publishing. Paperback: 202 pages. Price: $41.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A comprehensive study on the natural history and cultural symbolism of an unusual woodpecker. Detailed information is presented on the species' origins, taxonomy, anatomy, appearance, calls, distribution, conservation status, habitats, movements, breeding, diet and relationships. With a chapter on its closest relative, the Red-throated Wryneck.

RECOMMENDATION: This well illustrated monograph is a MUST have for anyone with an interest in the Wryneck! 


5) Ellis, David H. and John N. Schmitt. Behavior of the Golden Eagle: an illustrated ethogram. 2017. Hancock House. Paperback: 96 pages. Price: $

     In this volume, the action patterns and activities of the golden eagle are described and most are illustrated in great detail. Names/titles are given for each action pattern, and those that are most useful in determining health and level of disturbance are discussed. There is also a brief chapter on the history of behavioral studies as they apply to raptors. The dangers associated with studying raptors at close range are presented and techniques are outlined for minimizing disturbance. Recommendations are also made for exclusion zones for various environmental stressors/hazards around eagle eyries and in prey concentration zones.

      This book on the behavior of the golden eagle is broadly useful because hawks and other eagles behave very much like the golden eagle. When a reader becomes familiar with the ideas and terms presented herein, he/she is prepared for doing behavioral research on dozens of species. The illustrations are also designed for use in training technicians to recognize and report healthy and aberrant behavior of diurnal raptors. Further, in a day when web cameras broadcast intimate details of bird behavior around the world, this book provides the lexicon, the nomenclature, for discussing all that is seen.

RECOMMENDATION: N. John Schmitt's artwork highlights this book! This title is a must have for anyone with an interest in Golden Eagle behavior.

6) Stark, Mike. Chasing the Ghost Bear: On the Trail of America’s Lost Super Beast. 2022. Bison Books. Paperback: 227 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: No animal shakes the human consciousness quite like a bear, and few compare to the giant short-faced bears that stalked North America during the Pleistocene. Even among the mammoths and saber-toothed cats, they were a staggering sight: on all fours, the biggest would stare a six-foot person in the face and weigh close to a ton. On hind legs they towered more than ten feet, with jaws powerful enough to crush skulls and snap bones like twigs.

      The bears weren’t invincible, however. Despite their size, they were swept off the planet in a mysterious wave of Ice Age extinctions more than ten thousand years ago, then mostly forgotten. Chasing the Ghost Bear is Mike Stark’s journey into the bear’s enigmatic story—its life, disappearance, and rediscovery—and those trying to piece it together today. An engaging guide through his intrepid search, Stark’s story leads us from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles to a cornfield in Indiana, the far ends of the Arctic, the plains of Texas, and the swamps of Florida.

      Part natural history, part travelogue, and part meditation on extinction and loss, Chasing the Ghost Bear returns these magnificent beasts to their rightful place in our understanding of the world just an epoch past.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in prehistoric bears!


7) Dijkstra, Klaas-Douwe B. and Callan Cohen. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Madagascar and the Western Indian Ocean Islands. 2022. Association Vahatra. Paperback: 194 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This is the first book on the spectacular dragonflies and damselflies of the Malagasy Region, covering over 190 species known from Madagascar, as well as thirty-six additional species found in the archipelagos of the Comoros, Mascarenes, and Seychelles. About 180 species, four of every five present, live nowhere else on Earth. Over 205 photographs illustrate 138 species, many in print for the first time.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the Odonata of the region!


8) Scheer, Roddy.  Oregon and Washington's Roadside Ecology: 33 Easy Walks Through the Region’s Amazing Natural Areas. 2022. Timber Press. Paperback: 367 pages. Price: $

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Have you ever seen a raging river disappear completely into a lava tube? Petrified subtropical plants in the middle of a high desert? Do you know how a 10,000-year-old argillite boulder can wind up 800 miles away from any similar rocks? In this insightful guide, environmental journalist and photographer Roddy Scheer reveals the hidden stories of the Pacific Northwest's unique ecosystems and teaches you how to "read a landscape," as you explore 33 spectacular natural areas. All hikes are within easy walking distance of the road, less than 2 miles long, and include clues to deciphering the terrain—making Oregon and Washington's Roadside Ecology a must-have guide to some of the area's most spectacular and unusual natural sights.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the ecology of these two states.


9) Knoll, Andrew H.. A Brief History of Earth: Four Billion Years in Eight Chapters. 2021.  Custom House. Hardbound: 260 pages. Price: $24.00 U.S.


     How well do you know the ground beneath your feet? 

     Odds are, where you’re standing was once cooking under a roiling sea of lava, crushed by a towering sheet of ice, rocked by a nearby meteor strike, or perhaps choked by poison gases, drowned beneath ocean, perched atop a mountain range, or roamed by fearsome monsters. Probably most or even all of the above. 

     The story of our home planet and the organisms spread across its surface is far more spectacular than any Hollywood blockbuster, filled with enough plot twists to rival a bestselling thriller. But only recently have we begun to piece together the whole mystery into a coherent narrative. Drawing on his decades of field research and up-to-the-minute understanding of the latest science, renowned geologist Andrew H. Knoll delivers a rigorous yet accessible biography of Earth, charting our home planet's epic 4.6 billion-year story. Placing twenty first-century climate change in deep context, A Brief History of Earth is an indispensable look at where we’ve been and where we’re going.

     Features original illustrations depicting Earth history and nearly 50 figures (maps, tables, photographs, graphs).

RECOMMENDATION: A readable introduction to Earth's history.