Saturday, December 15, 2018

New Titles


1) Craik, Richard and Le Quy Minh. Birds of Vietnam. 2018. Lynx Edicions and Birdlife International. Flexibound: 400 pages. Price: $59.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: For birders, Vietnam is unquestionably one of the key countries to visit in Asia. A global biodiversity hotspot, Vietnam boasts 19 endemic species and subspecies groups, and another 27 near-endemic species, the largest number of any country in mainland South-East Asia. Among these are several species new to science discovered at the end of the 20th century, like Chestnut-eared and Golden-winged Laughingthrushes, or species rediscovered after long periods without records, such as the enigmatic Grey-crowned Crocias, all of them the result of a renewed wave of ornithological exploration in the decades since the end of the Vietnam War.
     This book, the first comprehensive modern field guide dedicated to Vietnam's rich and diverse avifauna, describes all 916 species in text, illustrations and distribution maps.
     Taxonomy follows the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Detailed texts covering status, habitat and behavior, age, sex and geographical variation, voice, and confusion species. Over 1900 illustrations covering all species and distinctive subspecies, birds in flight, males and females, juveniles and non-breeding plumages, where appropriate. QR code for each species, linking to the Internet Bird Collection gallery of photos, videos and sounds. More than 870 full-color range maps for all species other than vagrants. Well-marked subspecies groups receive full accounts, and the distributions of subspecies breeding in the region are clearly mapped. Local species name included. 911 species; 37 endemics or near-endemics, 2 introduced, 71 vagrants, over 1900 illustrations and over 870 distribution maps.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding Vietnam!


2) Fozzi, Ilaria and Davide De Rosa. Where to Watch Birds in Sardinia. 2018. Pelagic Publishing. Paperback: 140 pages. Price: $32.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Sardinia is in the middle of the western Mediterranean between Europe and Africa. Its location on the Mediterranean flyway makes it an important refueling stop for migrating birds – especially on its extensive wetlands. A popular destination for birders and naturalists, Sardinia has a great diversity of fauna and flora, along with rich cultural and historical attractions.
     Where to Watch Birds in Sardinia is written by two ornithologists with extensive experience of Sardinian birding, provides detailed information on the 43 key birding sites in Sardinia. For each site the target species are highlighted, along with information on habitat, when to visit, other wildlife, facilities, access, how long you'll need, the photographic opportunities and recommendations for your visit. A map of each site helps with planning and navigation to the site.  
     Often described as a micro-continent for the variety of its ecosystems, Sardinia has mountains, forests, lowlands, gorges, wetlands, long sandy beaches and rocky shores. It is home to around 300 bird species, 41 mammals, 18 reptiles and 8 amphibians as well as a hugely diverse invertebrate fauna. Owing to its geographical isolation, altitudinal variation and limited human presence, Sardinia has retained many habitats that are favourable for the development and preservation of a large number of endemic plants, accounting for 10 per cent of the island's flora and including several orchid species.  
     Sardinia's 'must-see' birds include Greater Flamingo, Eleonora's Falcon, Purple Swamphen, Little Bustard, Audouin's Gull, Marmora's Warbler, Corsican Finch, Griffon Vulture and Barbary Partridge. In spring, April and May are the best months for migration, while for the autumn migration the best period stretches from the end of August to the end of October. Wetlands are the most important sites in springtime, with many species stopping for some days before going north. During the breeding season these areas are very important for Greater Flamingo, Audouin's Gull, Little Tern and several other species of waders, gulls and terns. The breeding season is also a good time to see 'special' resident species like the Little Bustard in display or to hear the flight call of the Corsican Finch. In winter, large concentrations of ducks and gulls are found on the island, with the occasional vagrant from Siberia or North America.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding Sardinia!


3) Dingus, Lowell. King of the Dinosaur Hunters: The Life of John Bell Hatcher and the Discoveries that Shaped Paleontology. 2018. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 520 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The story of the extraordinary adventures behind the man who has discovered some of the amazing wonders of natural history.     Every year millions of museum visitors marvel at the skeletons of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures discovered by John Bell Hatcher. The life of the “King of Collectors” is every bit as fascinating as the mighty bones and fossils he unearthed.
     Hatcher helped discover and mount much of the Carnegie Museum's world famous, 150 million-year-old skeleton of Diplodocus, a slender-necked, long-tailed, plant-eater whose skeleton has captivated our collective imaginations for more than a century. But that wasn’t all Hatcher discovered.  During a now legendary collecting campaign in Wyoming between 1889 and 1892, Hatcher discovered a 66 million-year-old horned dinosaur, Torosaurus, as well as the first scientifically significant set of skeletons from its evolutionary cousin, Triceratops. Refusing to restrict his talents to enormous dinosaurs, he also discovered the first significant sample of mammal teeth from our relatives that lived 66 million years ago. The teeth might have been minute, but this extraordinary discovery filled a key gap in humanity’s own evolutionary history.
     Hatcher’s discoveries form the bases of some of the most beloved and well-known collections and institutions in the world―Yale, The Peabody Museum, Princeton University, the Carnegie Museum, and more. Nearly one hundred and twenty-five years after Hatcher’s monumental “hunts” ended, acclaimed paleontologist Lowell Dingus invites us to revisit Hatcher’s captivating expeditions and marvel at this real-life Indiana Jones and the vital role he played in our understanding of paleontology.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the history of paleontology.



Sunday, December 9, 2018

Best Bird Books of 2018



The following are my picks for the best bird books of 2018:

 BEST BOOK:



1) Shirihai, Hadoram and Lars Svensson. Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds: Passerines. 2018. Helm. Hardbound: 1271 pages in 2 volumes with slipcase. Price: $250.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This unique and spectacular handbook is the most complete and comprehensive photographic guide to the passerines of the Western Palearctic. Written by two of the world's most respected ornithologists, Hadoram Shirihai and Lars Svensson, the Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds contains the most up-to-date information available on bird identification covering all aspects of plumage, moult, aging and sexing, with sections on voice and other identification criteria, and detailed taxonomic notes.
     The handbook is divided into two volumes, with the first covering larks, hirundines, pipits and wagtails, bulbuls, accentors, robins, chats, wheatears, thrushes, prinias and cisticolas, and warblers, and the second covering flycatchers, reedlings, tits, nuthatches, orioles and sunbirds, shrikes, corvids, finches, and buntings, along with extreme vagrants.
     The exceptional text is backed up by a stunning collection of more than 4,000 photographs, featuring a comprehensive range of plumages that illustrate every race and morph of each species in the region.
     This stunning handbook will be the definitive reference for the region for years to come--no birder's shelf will be complete without it. 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST HAVE for those with a serious interest in the birds of the Western Palearctic!

 
HONORABLE MENTIONS:
 
 
 
1) Greeney, Harold and David Beadle. Antpittas and Gnateaters. 2018. Helm. Hardbound: 496 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Elusive study organisms for ornithologists and highly prized additions to the birder's life-list, the antpittas (Grallariidae) and gnateaters (Conopophagidae) are among the most poorly known Neotropical bird groups. This authoritative handbook is the first book dedicated solely to these two families, combining an exhaustive review of more than two centuries of literature with original observations by the author and many knowledgeable contributors.
     Antpittas and Gnateaters provides a thorough guide to the identification and ecology of these birds, with detailed maps accompanying the text. A series of superb plates illustrate most of the 156 recognized taxa; supplemented by more than 250 colour photographs, the immature plumages and natural history of many species are depicted for the first time.
     This book is the ultimate reference on these remarkable and beautiful birds, and an indispensable addition to the libraries of researchers and birders for many years to come.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with an interest in these species! David Beadle's artwork highlights this book.
 
 
2) Clark, Bill and Rob Davies. African Raptors. 2018. Helm. Hardbound: 336 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Africa has the most diverse range of raptors of any continent, with almost a third of the world's species occurring in the region. This comprehensive new book examines all of these species in impressive detail, emphasizing their field identification. A full range of plumages is illustrated for each species, with each plate usually covering only two species.
     The specially commissioned artwork has been painted by raptor enthusiast Rob Davies. The authoritative text treats the identification of both perched and in-flight birds and covers all major plumages and morphs. These texts are accompanied by up-to-date range maps and many fabulous color photographs from some of the world's leading bird photographers. This new book will be an essential reference for all those with an interest in raptors and especially in African raptors.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in African raptors!
 
 
 
3) Olsen, Klaus Malling. Gulls of the World: A Photographic Guide. 2018. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 368 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: With more than 50 gull species in the world, this family of seabirds poses some of the greatest field identification challenges of any bird group: age-related plumage changes, extensive variations within species, frequent hybridization, and complex distribution.
     Gulls of the World takes on these challenges and is the first book to provide a comprehensive look at these birds. Concise text emphasizes field identification, with in-depth discussion of variations as well as coverage of habitat, status, and distribution. Abundant photographs highlight identification criteria and, crucially, factor in age and subspecific field separation. Informative species accounts are accompanied by detailed color range maps.
     Gulls of the World is the most authoritative photographic guide to this remarkable bird family.
  • The first book to provide in-depth coverage of all the world's gull species
  • More than 600 stunning color photographs
  • Concise text looks at variations, habitat, status, and distribution
  • Informative species accounts and color range maps
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all Larophiles!
 
 
 
4) Johnson, Kirk Wallace. The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century. 2018. Viking. Hardbound: 308 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins—some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin's, Alfred Russel Wallace, who'd risked everything to gather them—and escaped into the darkness.
     Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man's destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.

RECOMMENDATION: An interesting true life crime story involving bird specimens and fly-fishing.
 
 
 
5) Vallely, Andrew and Dale Dyer. Birds of Central America: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. 2018. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 584 pages. Price: $49.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birds of Central America is the first comprehensive field guide to the avifauna of the entire region, including Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Handy and compact, the book presents text and illustrations for nearly 1,200 resident and migrant species, and information on all rare vagrants. Two hundred sixty detailed plates on convenient facing-page spreads depict differing ages and sexes for each species, with a special focus on geographic variation. The guide also contains up-to-date range maps and concise notes on distribution, habitat, behavior, and voice. An introduction provides a brief overview of the region’s landscape, climate, and biogeography.
     The culmination of more than a decade of research and field experience, Birds of Central America is an indispensable resource for all those interested in the bird life of this part of the world.
  • Detailed information on the entire avifauna of Central America
  • 260 beautiful color plates
  • Range maps, text, and illustrations presented on convenient facing-page spreads
  • Up-to-date notes on distribution supported by an extensive bibliography
  • Special focus on geographic variation of bird species
 RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those birding the region!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

New Title


1) Hitchcock, C. Leo, Arthur Cronquist et al.. Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual (second edition). 2018. University of Washington Press. Hardbound: 882 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Flora of the Pacific Northwest, first published in 1973, became an instant classic for its innovative style of providing species descriptions in the identification keys, and for its comprehensive illustrations of nearly all treated taxa (species, subspecies, and varieties). Students rely on it as an essential primer, while veteran botanists and natural resource managers use it as the definitive reference for the region's flora.
     This completely revised and updated edition captures the advances in vascular plant systematics over the decades since publication of the first edition. These advances, together with significant changes in plant nomenclature, the description of taxa new to science from the region, and the recent documentation of new native and nonnative species in the Pacific Northwest required a thorough revision of this authoritative work.
     Flora of the Pacific Northwest covers all of Washington, the northern half of Oregon, Idaho north of the Snake River Plain, the mountainous portion of western Montana, and the southern portion of British Columbia. It accounts for the wild-growing native and introduced vascular plants falling within those boundaries and includes:

Treatment of 5,545 taxa (more than 1,000 taxa added from the first edition)

Illustrations for 4,716 taxa (1,382 more than the first edition)

Nomenclature changes for more than 40 percent of the taxa included in the first edition

     These enhancements make this new edition the most comprehensive reference on Pacific Northwest vascular plants for professional and amateur botanists, ecologists, rare plant biologists, plant taxonomy instructors, land managers, nursery professionals, and gardeners.


RECOMMENDATION: The page count has increased from 730 in the first to 882 in the second. A must have for those with a serious interest in the plants of the region.