Thursday, October 21, 2021

New Titles


1) Huisman, G. Jelmer. Estrildid Finches of the World: A Photographic, Descriptive and Factual Guide to All 34 Genera of Estrildidae. 2021. Self-published. Hardbound: 396 pages. Price: about $120.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Estrildid Finches of the World was written over a period of nine years and is intended for a wide audience, not only bird lovers and bird watchers, but also ornithologists and other scientists. Estrildid finches are among the most fascinating bird families of the Old World with surprising and special characteristics. The family of Estrildidae comprises 34 genera with 145 species and 239 subspecies, each having its own quirks.

     All 145 species and their subspecies are described in detail and the unique distribution maps present the spread of all subspecies in different colours. The descriptions of the species are supported by beautiful photographs of the birds in their natural habitats.

     These photos represent the work of close to 300 photographers from 40 countries around the world, whose achievements were vitally important to this huge project. Not only did they afford the author permission to use their photos, but they also provided valuable information on the species directly through their first-hand field experience. In fact, some species have never been illustrated photographically before. In addition, the author was very fortunate in that several renowned universities, such as Cambridge and Yale, were extremely helpful.

     The reader will also be treated to photos of nestlings at different stages of their development, which were taken by bird breeders so as not to unnecessarily disturb the breeding birds in their natural habitats. Estrildid Finches of the World depicts the largest number of mouth markings ever published, with 111 species being illustrated. Original photos show nestling mimicry of estrildid finches and their parasitic whydahs and indigobirds, making this a fascinating resource for evolutionary biologists.

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in Estrildid Finches and/or collect bird family monographs! The book can be ordered here.



2) Arlott, Norman et al.. The Complete Birds of the World: Every Species Illustrated. 2021. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 656 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The ultimate reference book for birdwatchers and bird lovers―the first single-volume book to illustrate all of the world’s bird species.

     This is a book like no other―the only truly comprehensive, one-volume illustrated guide to all of the world’s birds, covering the complete International Ornithological Congress World Bird List. Featuring more than 300 stunning large-format, full-color plates, this accessible and authoritative encyclopedic reference presents incredibly detailed, accurate, and beautiful paintings of more than 10,700 species by some of the world’s best bird artists, led by the legendary Norman Arlott and Ber van Perlo. In addition, The Complete Birds of the World provides detailed but concise identification information about each species on facing pages―including facts about voice, habitat, and geographic distribution. The result is a visual and verbal feast that captures the astonishing variety of bird life around the planet―and that will be cherished by any birder.

  • Illustrates more than 10,700 species, covering the complete International Ornithological Congress World Bird List, and including all major adult plumages for each
  • Features more than 300 stunning large-format, full-color plates by some of the world’s leading bird artists
  • Presents detailed but concise identification information about each species on facing pages―including facts about voice, habitat, and geographic distribution

RECOMMENDATION: Of the three "Illustrated Checklist to the Birds of the World" type books, Westoll's 1998 book is out-of-print and out-of-date. The two in print books are this one and Lynx's 2020 title. This book is smaller, has more crowded plates, and minimal text vs. QR codes of the Lynx volume. I prefer the Lynx book over this one.


3) Haak, Bruce A.. Magical Merlins. 2021. Falco Sapiens Press. Hardbound: 184 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S. (plus $6.00 U.S. shipping).

SUMMARY: This book is a detailed study of the biology of the Merlin (Falco columbarius), a small falcon species, found in North America and Eurasia. Most of the research in this book is from the Pacific Northwest region of North America.  This work has four co-authors, six painters, and twelve photographers. It contains thirty-five illustrations (paintings, maps, plates) and sixty-six color photos. Birders will find chapter eight (Plumages of North American Merlins), written and illustrated by N. John Schmitt, the most useful. 

RECOMMENDATION: If you're a fan of Merlins or into falcons in general you will want this book! The book can be ordered here.



4) Beauséjour, Sylvain et al.. All Asian Primates. 2021. Re:wild. Paperback: 536 pages. Price: about $64.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This book features the most beautiful images of the Asian apes, monkeys and prosimians, including the rarest, photographed by more than 200 naturalists, professional and amateur photographers, primatologists and wildlife organizations.

     This collection portrays 131 species and, including the currently recognized subspecies of 26 of them, 193 Asian primates overall. Just for the sake of completeness, also included is the Barbary macaque of northern Africa, the only living member of the genus from outside of Asia. Other than the Barbary macaque and the Hamadryas baboon, all are endemic to South, Southeast and East Asia. Coverage is also provided for some 19 described subspecies that today are not considered valid (the scientific names attributed to them are given in parentheses), along with the different pelage colour forms of nine of the species and subspecies.

     A distribution map, a short introductory text, and a listing of the species and subspecies introduce each chapter devoted to the five Asian primate families, their subfamilies and genera. A photo montage shows a close-up of the face and, behind it, when possible, males, females and young in the habitat, for each species and subspecies. On the opposite page, each taxon is accompanied by its scientific name, a common name in English and French, and its Red List status. There is a map and a description of their geographic range, along with brief but fully referenced notes on their taxonomy (nomenclatural history), and a summary of the threats each face and their conservation measures, including notable protected areas where they mainly occur. There is even a QR code that users can access for details of the taxon on the IUCN Red List website.

      A final section lists the Asian primate species and subspecies in each of the 22 countries where they occur.

      All Asian Primates will engage its readers towards the goal of protecting and restoring a remarkable and vital element of Asia's rich biodiversity. It presents us with the full range of Asian primates, so many of which are today threatened with extinction. It is built on the work of countless scientists, conservationists, and wildlife photographers, providing us with information to learn and understand more about each of the 193 primate species and subspecies in Asia that have been named and described, and their biogeography, which has been uncovered through centuries of research and exploration. The astonishing photos bring to life every species and subspecies, generating hope and inspiration to save our closest cousins.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in Asian primates.


5) Archibald, J. David. Charles Darwin (Critical Lives). 2021. Reaktion Books. Paperback: 224 pages. Price: $19.00 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: In 1859 Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. With this bedrock of biology books, Darwin carved a new origin-story for all life: evolution rather than creation. But this single book is not the whole story. In this new biography, J. David Archibald describes and analyzes Darwin’s prodigious body of work and complex relationships with colleagues, as well as his equally productive home life—he lived with his wife and seven surviving children in the bustling environs of Down House, south of London. There, among his family and friends, Darwin continued to experiment and write many more books on orchids, sex, emotions, and earthworms until his death in 1882, when he was honored with burial at Westminster Abbey. This is a fresh, up-to-date account of the life and work of a most remarkable man.

RECOMMENDATION: A readable overview on the life of Charles Darwin.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

New Titles



1) Raffaele, Herbert A. et al.. Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands: Fully Revised and Updated Third Edition. 2021. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 224 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The only fully illustrated guide to feature all the bird species of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

     This portable and informative field guide describes the bird species found on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Fully updated, the guide presents all 347 species, both naturally occurring as well as introduced, and highlights 19 endemic species found nowhere else in the world. Species are sorted by habitat to facilitate identification and extra illustrations are provided for birds similar in appearance.

  • The only fully illustrated guide to feature all 347 bird species in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
  • Species sorted by habitat for easier identification
  • Text and illustrations on facing pages for ease of identification
  • Extensive introduction covering taxonomy, migration, biogeography, and conservation
  • Useful information on birding hotspots throughout the region

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone birding Puerto Rico and/or the Virgin Islands!

2) Pruett-Jones, Stephen (editor). Naturalized Parrots of the World: Distribution, Ecology, and Impacts of the World's Most Colorful Colonizers. 2021. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 304 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S. 

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A remarkable exploration of naturalized parrots, among the most widely distributed birds in the world.

     There are more than 350 species of parrots in the world, and approximately 300 of these species have been transported to other countries through the caged pet trade. Whether through escaped captivity or purposeful release, many of these parrots are now breeding in new habitats. Indeed, no less than 75 species of parrots have established breeding populations in countries where they were introduced, and parrots are now among the most widely distributed group of birds. Naturalized Parrots of the World is the first book to examine this specific avian population.

     Bringing together the work of leading researchers in one convenient volume, this book explores the biology of naturalized parrots and their interactions with native ecosystems. Experts discuss the global distribution of parrots, their genetics, conservation implications, and human responses to these birds. They also consider debates surrounding management issues and the lack of consensus around nonnative species in the wild. Later chapters feature case studies of the two most successful species―the Rose-ringed Parakeet and Monk Parakeet―as well as studies of the introduced parrot species located in specific countries and regions, including the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, northern Europe, South Africa, and Australia.

     Highlighting critical aspects of conservation biology and biodiversity, Naturalized Parrots of the World will be an invaluable resource for parrot owners, ornithologists, conservation biologists, and birdwatchers.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for all parrot researchers!



3) Newberry, Gretchen. The Nighthawk's Evening: Notes of a Field Biologist. 2021. Oregon State University Press. Paperback: 160 pages. Price: $22.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: In her late thirties, Gretchen Newberry left her office job in Portland, Oregon, to become a wildlife biologist studying nighthawks. The Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor, has long fascinated birders, scientists, farmers, and anyone who has awoken to its raspy calls on a hot city night. In The Nighthawk’s Evening, Newberry charts her journey across North America to study these birds, from the islands of British Columbia to rooftops in South Dakota, Oregon sagebrush, and Wisconsin forests.

      This acrobatic, night-flying bird nests on rooftops and flocks in the thousands as it migrates from Alaska to Argentina and back every year. Nighthawks are strange animals, reptiles with feathers, sleepy during the day, but quick, agile, and especially adept at survival. They have the ability to withstand extreme temperatures and adapt to many habitats, but they are struggling for survival in the Anthropocene.

      Newberry’s story focuses on the bird itself—its complex conservation status and cultural significance—and the larger, often hidden world of nocturnal animals. Along the way, she gives readers insight into the daily life of a scientist, especially one who works primarily at night. The Nighthawk’s Evening uses one scientist and one species to explore the challenges, disappointments, and successes of scientific research and conservation efforts. An accessible work of science, it will appeal to birders, students, wildlife managers, and anyone who is fascinated by urban wildlife.

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the Common Nighthawk or with nightjars in general.   

4) Mass, Cliff. The Weather of the Pacific Northwest (Second Edition). 2021. University of Washington Press. Paperback: 299 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Powerful Pacific storms strike the region. Otherworldly lenticular clouds often cap Mount Rainier. Rain shadows create sunny skies while torrential rain falls a few miles away. The Pineapple Express brings tropical moisture and warmth during Northwest winters. The Pacific Northwest produces some of the most distinctive and variable weather in North America, which is described with colorful and evocative language in this book.

     Atmospheric scientist and blogger Cliff Mass, known for his ability to make complex science readily accessible to all, shares eyewitness accounts, historical episodes, and the latest meteorological knowledge. This updated, extensively illustrated, and expanded new edition features:

• A new chapter on the history of wildfires and their impact on air quality
• Analysis of recent floods and storms, including the Oso landslide of 2014, the 2016 "Ides of October" windstorm, and the tornado that damaged 250 homes in Port Orchard on the Kitsap Peninsula in 2018
• Fresh insight on local weather phenomena such as "The Blob"
• Updates on the latest technological advances used in forecasting
• A new chapter on the meteorology of British Columbia

     Highly readable and packed with useful scientific information, this indispensable guide is a go-to resource for outdoor enthusiasts, boaters, gardeners, and anyone who wants to understand and appreciate the complex and fascinating meteorology of the region.

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


5) Pyne, Stephen J.. The Pyrocene: How We Created an Age of Fire, and What Happens Next. 2021. University of California Press. Hardbound: 172 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A provocative rethinking of how humans and fire have evolved together over time—and our responsibility to reorient this relationship before it’s too late.​

     The Pyrocene tells the story of what happened when a fire-wielding species, humanity, met an especially fire-receptive time in Earth's history. Since terrestrial life first appeared, flames have flourished. Over the past two million years, however, one genus gained the ability to manipulate fire, swiftly remaking both itself and eventually the world. We developed small guts and big heads by cooking food; we climbed the food chain by cooking landscapes; and now we have become a geologic force by cooking the planet.

      Some fire uses have been direct: fire applied to convert living landscapes into hunting grounds, forage fields, farms, and pastures. Others have been indirect, through pyrotechnologies that expanded humanity's reach beyond flame's grasp. Still, preindustrial and Indigenous societies largely operated within broad ecological constraints that determined how, and when, living landscapes could be burned. These ancient relationships between humans and fire broke down when people began to burn fossil biomass—lithic landscapes—and humanity’s firepower became unbounded. Fire-catalyzed climate change globalized the impacts into a new geologic epoch. The Pleistocene yielded to the Pyrocene.

      Around fires, across millennia, we have told stories that explained the world and negotiated our place within it. The Pyrocene continues that tradition, describing how we have remade the Earth and how we might recover our responsibilities as keepers of the planetary flame.

RECOMMENDATION: If you have read the author's other books on fire, you'll want to read this one too.

6) Prothero, Donald R.. The Systematics of North American Peccaries. 2021. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Paperback: 76 pages. Price: $10.00 U.S. (plus shipping).

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The family Tayassuidae (peccaries or javelinas) is a group of New World suiform artiodactyls with an ecology much like that of the family Suidae, the true pigs of the Old World. Their last common ancestor with the family Suidae was over 37 million years ago, and since then tayassuids have evolved and diversified in isolation in North America (and eventually South America) independent of the suids. Even though there are only three living genera in the Americas today, peccaries were once much more diverse. Previous studies recognized only 7-12 genera of peccaries in North America, but very little research has been published on them in decades, and most of that research became obsolete with the large collections of good specimens newly available. The author recognizes 26 genera and 35 valid species in North America (all but one of them extinct).

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the fossil mammals of North America. You can order this publication by calling the museum at (505) 841-2803.

7) Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The Authoritative Text with Original Illustrations. 2021. University of California Press. Hardbound: 561 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A beautiful hardcover repackaging of this timeless classic from the publishers of the Autobiography of Mark Twain and in partnership with the Mark Twain Project.

      This definitive edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the only version of Mark Twain’s masterpiece based on his complete manuscript, including the 663 pages found in a Los Angeles attic in 1990. Prepared by the Mark Twain Papers, the official archive of Sam Clemens’s papers at the University of California, Berkeley, this volume features the gorgeous original illustrations that Twain commissioned from Edward Windsor Kemble and John Harley and also includes historical notes, a glossary, maps, selected manuscript pages, and even a gallery of letters, advertisements, and playbills from Twain’s first “book tour” to promote the original publication—everything the discerning reader needs to enjoy this classic of American literature again and again.

RECOMMENDATION: This edition of Huckleberry Finn is a must have for fans of Mark Twain's writings!