Sunday, June 6, 2021

New Titles

 


1) Hansen, Keith et al.. Hansen's Field Guide to the Birds of the Sierra Nevada. 2021. Heyday. Paperback: 339 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Identify and learn about over two hundred and fifty birds of the Sierra Nevada. From tiniest hummingbirds to condors with nine-foot wingspans; from lower-elevation wrens to the rasping nutcrackers of the High Sierra; from urban House Sparrows to wild water–loving American Dippers, Hansen’s Field Guide to the Birds of the Sierra Nevada showcases artist-naturalist Keith Hansen’s sixteen-year project to illustrate the birds of the Sierra Nevada. Paired with stunningly detailed portraits is text informed by decades of birding experience—prose that while firmly grounded in expertise will nonetheless delight readers with its whimsy, allusion, and affection. Take the Bufflehead: “A diminutive and endearing diving duck,” which moves “with spirited abandon.” Or the “scrappy and antagonistic” Merlin, “holding dominion over winter skies, tormenting eagles, hawks, and vultures alike.” The White-tailed Kite is “angelic in poise, a streamlined bird of unblemished tailoring”; the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher sports a black eye-to-eye brow, imparting a “Frida Kahlo–like stare.” This book is the field guide companion to the Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution, also coauthored by Edward C. Beedy and illustrated by Keith Hansen (University of California Press, 2013).

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone birding the Sierra Nevadas! Keith Hansen's artwork highlights this book!

 

 

2) St. John, Alan. Reptiles of the Northwest: British Columbia to California, Rockies to the Coast (Second Edition). 2021. Lone Pine. Paperback: 272 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This updated and revised comprehensive field guide covers 42 native turtles, lizards and snakes, grouped and color coded for quick identification. All of the species are shown in a quick reference guide. Stunning color photos, range maps and notes on identification, distribution, habitat and behavior offer insight into the fascinating lives of these animals, and field notes relate the author's experiences with each species. Also included is a guide to reptile habitats in the Northwest, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, illustrated keys to the species and a life list for you own notes.

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


 

3) Mapes, Lynda V.. Orca: Shared Waters, Shared Home. 2021. Braided River. Hardbound: 192 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Orca whale J35, also known as "Tahlequah," gave birth in July of 2018 in the waters off British Columbia, but her calf died soon after, leading its mother to carry her for 17 days across 1000 miles before finally releasing the calf and rejoining her pod. This extraordinary and caring behavior sparked not only worldwide sympathy, but also a revival of our awareness of the critical need to preserve orcas, the chinook salmon they feed on, and their habitat that together make up the core of Pacific Northwest identity.

      In Orca: Shared Waters, Shared Home journalist Lynda V. Mapes explores the natural history of the orca and the unique challenges for survival of the Southern Resident group that frequents Puget Sound. These whales are among the most urban in the world, a focus of researchers, tourists, and politicians alike. Once referred to as "blackfish" and still known as "killer whales," orcas were for generations regarded as vermin to be avoided or exterminated, then later were captured live for aquariums all over the world. With greater exposure, scientists realized how intelligent the mammal is and are learning about their matriarchal family groups, vocalizations, behavior, and different subspecies. Today only 74 Southern Resident whales are left, and they are threatened by habitat degradation, lack of chinook salmon (their primary food source), relentless growth, and climate change. Can we reverse the trend?

       This special project, co-published with the Pulitzer Prize winning Seattle Times newspaper, features stunning imagery by Times photographer Steve Ringman, as well as from partner organizations including The Whale Museum, NOAA, and Center for Whale Research.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in Puget Sound's Orcas!

 


4) Bezzerides, Alex. Evolution Gone Wrong: The Curious Reasons Why Our Bodies Work (Or Don't). 2021. Hanover Square Press. Hardbound: 384 pages. Price: $28.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: From blurry vision to crooked teeth, ACLs that tear at alarming rates and spines that seem to spend a lifetime falling apart, it’s a curious thing that human beings have beaten the odds as a species.

     After all, we’re the only survivors on our branch of the tree of life. The flaws in our makeup raise more than a few questions, and this detailed foray into the many twists and turns of our ancestral past includes no shortage of curiosity and humor to find the answers.

      Why is it that human mothers have such a life-endangering experience giving birth? Why are there entire medical specialties for teeth and feet? And why is it that human babies can’t even hold their heads up, but horses are trotting around minutes after they’re born?

      In this funny, wide-ranging and often surprising book, biologist Alex Bezzerides tells us just where we inherited our adaptable, achy, brilliant bodies in the process of evolution.

RECOMMENDATION: A readable overview on how evolution has affected the Human body!  

 

 

5) Foth, Christian and Oliver W. M. Rauhut (editors). The Evolution of Feathers: From Their Origin to the Present. 2020. Springer. Hardbound: 243 pages. Price: $119.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Feathers are one of the most unique characteristics of modern birds and represent the most complex and colourful type of skin derivate within vertebrates, while also fulfilling various biological roles, including flight, thermal insulation, display, and sensory function. For years it was generally assumed that the origin of flight was the main driving force for the evolution of feathers. However, various discoveries of dinosaur species with filamentous body coverings, made over the past 20 years, have fundamentally challenged this idea and produced new evolutionary scenarios for the origin of feathers.

     This book is devoted to the origin and evolution of feathers, and highlights the impact of palaeontology on this research field by reviewing a number of spectacular fossil discoveries that document the increasing morphological complexity along the evolutionary path to modern birds. Also featuring chapters on fossil feather colours, feather development and its genetic control, the book offers a timely and comprehensive overview of this popular research topic. 

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in avian paleontology! My favorite chapters are: The Plumage of Basal Birds and Palaeocolour: A History and State of the Art. 


 

6) Soplop, Julia. Equus Rising: How the Horse Shaped U.S. History. 2020. Hill Press. Paperback: 316 pages. Price: $15.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Weapon. Legend. Energy source. Shaper of cultures. Center of controversy. Throughout U.S. history, the horse has served as one of the most powerful influences on the country's development. Beginning fifty-five million years ago with the evolution of the horse across the Great Plains, this story charts its extinction in North America, followed by its reintroduction to the continent by the Spanish. The eventual acquisition of Spanish horses by the native peoples of the plains had profound consequences for the continent's future: it resulted in the explosion of wild horses across the West and unleashed some of the most talented and brutal mounted warriors in the world, the Comanche, who staved off European-American development of much of the plains for nearly two centuries. From there, the story tracks the horse's incredible contributions-through warring and racing and hauling, through companionship and servitude and strength-across the broad arc of the country's next three hundred years. Soplop employs the horse as a narrative thread not only to bind seemingly disparate events, but also to allow for the inclusion of figures often written out of traditional histories: women and minorities. Through a modern, unconventional lens, she skillfully weaves together science, policy, literature, and history to trace the fascinating story of how one animal shaped the nation. Captivating pen and ink illustrations by Montana artist Robert Spannring, interspersed with Soplop's stunning photography, add further depth and visual interest.

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

 


7) Patterson, Daniel and Eric Russell. Tenacious of Life: The Quadruped Essays of John James Audubon and John Bachman. 2021. University of Nebraska Press. Hardbound: 352 pages. Price: $70.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Daniel Patterson and Eric Russell present a groundbreaking case for considering John James Audubon’s and John Bachman’s quadruped essays as worthy of literary analysis and redefine the role of Bachman, the perpetually overlooked coauthor of the essays. After completing The Birds of America (1826–38), Audubon began developing his work on the mammals. The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America volumes show an antebellum view of nature as fundamentally dynamic and simultaneously grotesque and awe-inspiring. The quadruped essays are rich with good stories about these mammals and the humans who observe, pursue, and admire them.

      For help with the science and the essays, Audubon enlisted the Reverend John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina. While he has been acknowledged as coauthor of the essays, Bachman has received little attention as an American nature writer. While almost all works that describe the history of American nature writing include Audubon, Bachman shows up only in a subordinate clause or two. Tenacious of Life strives to restore Bachman’s status as an important American nature writer.

      Patterson and Russell analyze the coauthorial dance between the voices of Audubon, an experienced naturalist telling adventurous hunting stories tinged often by sentiment, romanticism, and bombast, and of Bachman, the courteous gentleman naturalist, scientific detective, moralist, sometimes cruel experimenter, and humorist. Drawing on all the primary and secondary evidence, Patterson and Russell tell the story of the coauthors’ fascinating, conflicted relationship. This collection offers windows onto the early United States and much forgotten lore, often in the form of travel writing, natural history, and unique anecdotes, all told in the compelling voices of Antebellum America’s two leading naturalists.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in Audubon's The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America

 

 

8) Simard, Suzanne. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. 2021. Knopf. Hardbound: 348 pages. Price: $28.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she's been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron's Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

     Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths--that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

     Simard writes--in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies--and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

     Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them—embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey--of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.

RECOMMENDATION: This well received memoir will change your views on forest ecology! 






Sunday, May 9, 2021

New Titles

 


1) Cofta, Tomasz. Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds: An Illustrated and Photographic Guide. 2021. Princeton University Press/WILDGuides. Flexibound: 496 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Opening up new frontiers in birdwatching, this is the first field guide to focus specifically on the identification of European passerines and related landbirds in flight. Showcasing 850 stunning and remarkably lifelike colour illustrations from acclaimed bird artist Tomasz Cofta, produced using the latest digital technology, backed up with more than 2,400 photographs carefully selected to show typical flight profiles, it provides detailed and unsurpassed coverage of 205 European passerines and 32 near-passerines. This cutting-edge book brings a new dimension to birdwatching, the concise and authoritative species accounts presenting novel yet essential information on the flight manner of individual birds and the structure and behaviour of flocks―features that are key to identification. It also includes precise transliterations of flight calls, supported by sonograms, and links to a unique collection of hundreds of online audio recordings. Beautifully designed and written in an accessible style, this book will appeal to birdwatchers of all abilities. It presents the latest knowledge on flight identification of a group of birds that is poorly covered in the literature and is therefore a must-have for all professional ornithologists and scientists involved in migration studies.

  • The first field guide to flight identification of European passerines and related landbirds
  • Covers 205 European passerines and 32 near-passerines
  • Features 850 stunning colour illustrations
  • Includes more than 2,400 photos showing typical profiles of each species in flight
  • Provides detailed information on flight calls, with links to online recordings

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone birding Europe! I wish there was something like this for North America! 

 


2) Paulson, Dennis R. and William A. Haber. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. 2021. Cornell University Press. Paperback: 401 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Among the largest of all insects, dragonflies and damselflies are conspicuous. Active during the day, often brightly colored, and extremely photogenic―something about their appearance and dashing flight suggests a primeval world of tree ferns and dinosaurs.

     The first guide of its kind, this book includes an in-depth introduction with an overview of Costa Rican biodiversity and illustrated morphological terms. The species accounts show males and females of most species, detailed illustrations and close-ups of key distinguishing features, and descriptions of habitat, behavior, and range. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Costa Rica gives readers the information they need to identify nearly every species in the country. Experienced dragonfly fans and new enthusiasts alike will find it an indispensable resource.

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

 



3) Newman, Doug and Gordon King. Southern African LBJs Made Simple. 2021. Struik Nature. Paperback: 152 pages. Price: $16.50 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Southern African LBJs Made Simple is a useful guide to the cryptic little birds that are universally known as ‘little brown jobs’. With the help of color coding and careful design, the reader is systematically guided through successive sorting stages: from family group, to ‘visual group’ within the family, and finally to the species. Each step takes one closer to identifying the bird in question.

     Carefully labeled illustrations, distribution maps, concise text describing key ID criteria (such as size, habitat, habits, call and similar-looking and -sounding birds), and characteristic features summarized in an 'At a glance' box all help pinpoint identity. Calls play a critical role in identification of this challenging group of birds, and a major innovation is the use of barcodes alongside each species to scan and play individual calls and comparative tracks by means of a free downloadable call app.

      This enhanced and updated new edition will be an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to be able to tell one LBJ from another.

RECOMMENDATION: Two titles cover this topic: this one and Chamberlain's LBJs by Faansie Peacock (2012, reprinted 2021). Of the two, this one is more compact thus easier to use in the field, but  Chamberlain's LBJs has more details and better artwork.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

New Titles

 


1) Martínez Piña, Daniel E. and Gonzalo E. González Cifuentes. Field Guide to the Birds of Chile. 2021. Princeton University Press. Flexibound: 224 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: With its diverse range of habitats, Chile boasts a remarkable variety of breeding and visiting birds, from penguins to hummingbirds, making the country one of South America’s top birding destinations. From the Chilean Tinamou and Juan Fernandez Firecrown to the Magellanic woodpecker, this comprehensive and authoritative field guide covers every one of Chile’s 468 recorded species, including vagrants. All are illustrated in superb detail in 89 color plates, which feature every major plumage variation. Concise, facing-page species accounts describe key identification features, status, range, habitat, and voice, and accurate distribution maps are also provided for every species. The result is an essential field guide to the birds of this fascinating and beautiful country.

  • Covers all 468 species recorded in Chile, including vagrants
  • Features 89 color plates illustrating every species, with text and distribution maps on facing pages for quick and easy reference
  • Includes concise species accounts describing key identification features, status, range, habitat, and voice  

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding Chile!

 

 

2) Weidensaul, Scott. A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds. 2021. W.W. Norton. Hardbound: 385 pages. Price: $32.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: In the past two decades, our understanding of the navigational and physiological feats that enable birds to cross immense oceans, fly above the highest mountains, or remain in unbroken flight for months at a stretch has exploded. What we’ve learned of these key migrations―how billions of birds circumnavigate the globe, flying tens of thousands of miles between hemispheres on an annual basis―is nothing short of extraordinary.

     Bird migration entails almost unfathomable endurance, like a sparrow-sized sandpiper that will fly nonstop from Canada to Venezuela―the equivalent of running 126 consecutive marathons without food, water, or rest―avoiding dehydration by "drinking" moisture from its own muscles and organs, while orienting itself using the earth’s magnetic field through a form of quantum entanglement that made Einstein queasy. Crossing the Pacific Ocean in nine days of nonstop flight, as some birds do, leaves little time for sleep, but migrants can put half their brains to sleep for a few seconds at a time, alternating sides―and their reaction time actually improves.

     These and other revelations convey both the wonder of bird migration and its global sweep, from the mudflats of the Yellow Sea in China to the remote mountains of northeastern India to the dusty hills of southern Cyprus. This breathtaking work of nature writing from Pulitzer Prize finalist Scott Weidensaul also introduces readers to those scientists, researchers, and bird lovers trying to preserve global migratory patterns in the face of climate change and other environmental challenges.

     Drawing on his own extensive fieldwork, in A World on the Wing Weidensaul unveils with dazzling prose the miracle of nature taking place over our heads. 16 pages of color photographs; 15 maps.

RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the authors'  Living on the Wind, you should enjoy this book!

 

 

3) Blencowe, Michael. Gone: A search for what remains of the world's extinct creatures. 2021. Leaping Hare Press. Hardbound: 183 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Dynamic naturalist Michael Blencowe has travelled the globe to uncover the fascinating backstories of eleven extinct animals, which he shares with charm and insight in Gone.
 
      Inspired by his childhood obsession with extinct species, Blencowe takes us around the globe – from the forests of New Zealand to the ferries of Finland, from the urban sprawl of San Francisco to an inflatable crocodile on Brighton’s Widewater Lagoon. Spanning five centuries, from the last sighting of New Zealand’s Upland Moa to the 2012 death of the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, Lonesome George, his memoir is peppered with the accounts of the hunters and naturalists of the past as well as revealing conversations with the custodians of these totemic animals today. 
 
      Featuring striking artworks that resurrect these forgotten creatures, each chapter focuses on a different animal, revealing insights into their unique characteristics and habitats; the history of their discovery and just how and when they came to be lost to us. 
 
      Blencowe inspects the only known remains of a Huia egg at Te Papa, New Zealand; views hundreds of specimens of deceased Galapagos tortoises and Xerces Blue butterflies in the California Academy of Sciences; and pays his respects to the only soft tissue remains of the Dodo in the world. Warm, wry and thought-provoking, Gone shows that while each extinction story is different, all can inform how we live in the future. Discover and learn from the stories of the:
 
·         Great Auk. A majestic flightless seabird of the North Atlantic and the ‘original penguin’.
·         Spectacled Cormorant. The ‘ludicrous bird’ from the remote islands of the Bering Sea. 
·         Steller’s Sea Cow. An incredible ten tonne dugong with skin as furrowed as oak bark. 
·         Upland Moa. The improbable birds and the one-time rulers of New Zealand. 
·         Huia. The unique bird with two beaks and twelve precious tail feathers. 
·         South Island Kōkako. The ‘orange-wattled crow’, New Zealand’s elusive Grey Ghost. 
·         Xerces Blue. The gossamer-winged butterfly of the San Francisco sand dunes. 
·         Pinta Island Tortoise. The slow-moving, long-lived giant of the Galápagos Islands. 
·         Dodo. The superstar of extinction. 
·         Schomburgk’s Deer. A mysterious deer from the wide floodplains of central Thailand. 
·         Ivell’s Sea Anemone. A see-through sea creature known only from southern England. 
 
      A modern must-read for anyone interested in protecting our earth and its incredible wildlife, Gone is an evocative call to conserve what we have before it is lost forever.

RECOMMENDATION: Anyone with an interest in recently extinct species should read this book!

 


 

4) Falk, Seb. The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science. 2020. W.W. Norton. Hardbound: 392 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: An illuminating guide to the scientific and technological achievements of the Middle Ages through the life of a crusading astronomer-monk.

     Soaring Gothic cathedrals, violent crusades, the Black Death: these are the dramatic forces that shaped the medieval era. But the so-called Dark Ages also gave us the first universities, eyeglasses, and mechanical clocks. As medieval thinkers sought to understand the world around them, from the passing of the seasons to the stars in the sky, they came to develop a vibrant scientific culture.

     In The Light Ages, Cambridge science historian Seb Falk takes us on a tour of medieval science through the eyes of one fourteenth-century monk, John of Westwyk. Born in a rural manor, educated in England’s grandest monastery, and then exiled to a clifftop priory, Westwyk was an intrepid crusader, inventor, and astrologer. From multiplying Roman numerals to navigating by the stars, curing disease, and telling time with an ancient astrolabe, we learn emerging science alongside Westwyk and travel with him through the length and breadth of England and beyond its shores. On our way, we encounter a remarkable cast of characters: the clock-building English abbot with leprosy, the French craftsman-turned-spy, and the Persian polymath who founded the world’s most advanced observatory.

     The Light Ages offers a gripping story of the struggles and successes of an ordinary man in a precarious world and conjures a vivid picture of medieval life as we have never seen it before. An enlightening history that argues that these times weren’t so dark after all, The Light Ages shows how medieval ideas continue to color how we see the world today. 8 pages of color illustrations.

RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in the history of science.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

New Titles

 


1) Rashid, Scott. Northern Saw-whet Owl: The Deep Woods Gnome. 2021. Self-published. Paperback: 123 pages. Price: $34.99 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The diminutive Northern Saw-whet Owl is the smallest owl found in the east and one of the smallest in the west. Like the other small owls, Northern Saw-whet Owls are a secondary cavity-nesting species that prefer nesting in Northern Flicker cavities and also readily take to, and nest in nest boxes. Knowing this, I have built and placed more than 80 nest boxes for these owls, and placed them throughout the mountains of Northern Colorado. Having these boxes in place and finding several owls nesting in natural cavities, has given me the opportunity to study their nesting habits and food preferences. By trapping and banding the owls in the fall, has given me some insight into their movements after their nesting season has ended. Within the pages of Northern Saw-whet Owl (The Deep Woods Gnome) you will read about the bird’s natural history including their courtship, nesting, food preferences, and movements.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the Northern Saw-whet Owl.

 


2) Meiburg, Jonathan. A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey. 2021. Knopf. Hardbound: 366 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: An enthralling account of a modern voyage of discovery as we meet the clever, social birds of prey called caracaras, which puzzled Darwin, fascinate modern-day falconers, and carry secrets of our planet's deep past in their family history.

     In 1833, Charles Darwin was astonished by an animal he met in the Falkland Islands: handsome, social, and oddly crow-like falcons that were "tame and inquisitive . . . quarrelsome and passionate," and so insatiably curious that they stole hats, compasses, and other valuables from the crew of the Beagle. Darwin wondered why these birds were confined to remote islands at the tip of South America, sensing a larger story, but he set this mystery aside and never returned to it.
 
      Almost two hundred years later, Jonathan Meiburg takes up this chase. He takes us through South America, from the fog-bound coasts of Tierra del Fuego to the tropical forests of Guyana, in search of these birds: striated caracaras, which still exist, though they're very rare. He reveals the wild, fascinating story of their history, origins, and possible futures. And along the way, he draws us into the life and work of William Henry Hudson, the Victorian writer and naturalist who championed caracaras as an unsung wonder of the natural world, and to falconry parks in the English countryside, where captive caracaras perform incredible feats of memory and problem-solving. A Most Remarkable Creature is a hybrid of science writing, travelogue, and biography, as generous and accessible as it is sophisticated, and absolutely riveting.

RECOMMENDATION: Fans of Owls of the Eastern Ice should enjoy this book!

 

 

3) Dunn, Jon. The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds. 2021. Basic Books. Hardbound: 331 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Hummingbirds are a glittering, sparkling collective of over three hundred wildly variable species. For centuries, they have been revered by indigenous Americans, coveted by European collectors, and admired worldwide for their unsurpassed metallic plumage and immense character. Yet they exist on a knife-edge, fighting for survival in boreal woodlands, dripping cloud forests, and subpolar islands. They are, perhaps, the ultimate embodiment of evolution's power to carve a niche for a delicate creature in even the harshest of places.

     Traveling the full length of the hummingbirds' range, from the cusp of the Arctic Circle to near-Antarctic islands, acclaimed nature writer Jon Dunn encounters birders, scientists, and storytellers in his quest to find these beguiling creatures, immersing us in the world of one of Earth's most charismatic bird families.

RECOMMENDATION: Lovers of hummingbirds will enjoy this book!

 


4) Sheldon, Ian and Tamara Hartson. Washington and Oregon Animal Tracks. 2021. Lone Pine. Paperback: 160 pages. Price: $10.95 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Washington and Oregon abound with many species of animals and this book will help you identify their tracks. Concise descriptions of the animals and their tracks are combined with detailed drawings of the front and back prints, stride patterns and other important identifying aspects. A perfect guide for teachers, parents, hikers and urban adventurers.

RECOMMENDATION: Other titles in this series include Rocky Mountain and Northern California. These little guides are now in color and will fit easily into your backpack or large pockets!

 


5) Page, Lawrence M. and Brooks M. Burr. Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico (second edition). 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 663 pages. Price: $25.99 U.S.   

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: There are nearly 1,000 species of freshwater fishes in North America alone, and identifying them can sometimes be a daunting task. In fact, in just the twenty years since publication of the first edition of the Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes, the number of species has risen by almost 150, including 19 marine invaders and 16 newly established nonnative species. This second edition incorporates all of these new species, plus all-new maps and a collection of new and revised plates. Some of the species can be told apart only by minute differences in coloration or shape, and these beautifully illustrated plates reveal exactly how to distinguish each species.
     The guide includes detailed maps and information showing where to locate each species of fish—whether that species can be found in miles-long stretches of river or small pools that cover only dozens of square feet. The ichthyologic world of the twenty-first century is not the same as it was in the twentieth, and this brand-new edition of the definitive field guide to freshwater fishes reflects these many changes. 

RECOMMENDATION: The number of plates have increased from 48 to 57. The range maps are now in color. If you own the first edition you will want the second edition.  

 


6) Kemp, Christopher. The Lost Species: Great Expeditions in the Collections of Natural History Museums. 2020 (2017). The University of Chicago Press. Paperback: 250 pages. Price: $21.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The tiny, lungless Thorius salamander from southern Mexico, thinner than a match and smaller than a quarter. The lushly white-coated Saki, an arboreal monkey from the Brazilian rainforests. The olinguito, a native of the Andes, which looks part mongoose, part teddy bear. These fantastic species are all new to science—at least newly named and identified; but they weren’t discovered in the wild, instead, they were unearthed in the drawers and cavernous basements of natural history museums. As Christopher Kemp reveals in The Lost Species, hiding in the cabinets and storage units of natural history museums is a treasure trove of discovery waiting to happen.

      With Kemp as our guide, we go spelunking into museum basements, dig through specimen trays, and inspect the drawers and jars of collections, scientific detectives on the hunt for new species. We discover king crabs from 1906, unidentified tarantulas, mislabeled Himalayan landsnails, an unknown rove beetle originally collected by Darwin, and an overlooked squeaker frog, among other curiosities. In each case, these specimens sat quietly for decades—sometimes longer than a century—within the collections of museums, before sharp-eyed scientists understood they were new. Each year, scientists continue to encounter new species in museum collections—a stark reminder that we have named only a fraction of the world’s biodiversity. Sadly, some specimens have waited so long to be named that they are gone from the wild before they were identified, victims of climate change and habitat loss. As Kemp shows, these stories showcase the enduring importance of these very collections.

      The Lost Species vividly tells these stories of discovery—from the latest information on each creature to the people who collected them and the scientists who finally realized what they had unearthed—and will inspire many a museum-goer to want to peek behind the closed doors and rummage through the archives.

RECOMMENDATION: This well received title is now available in paperback.