Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recent Title

1) James, Frances C.and John A. Pourtless IV. Cladistics and the Origin of Birds: A Review and Two New Analyses. 2009. American Ornithologists' Union (Ornithological Monographs: No. 66). Paperback: 78 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: The authors have pursued two goals in this study: evaluation of whether the BMT (birds are maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs) hypothesis is as well supported as it has been claimed, and evaluation of alternative hypotheses for the origin of birds within a comparative phylogenetic framework.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in paleo-ornithology. This publication can be purchased here:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recent Title

1) Lieske, Ewald and Robert Myers. Coral Reef Fishes: Indo-Pacific and Caribbean (revised edition). 2001. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 400 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Expanded and updated to include an additional 44 species, this is a handy guide to those fishes that are likely to be observed by anybody visiting or diving on the coral reefs of the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific to a depth of sixty meters. Accessible to amateur marine life enthusiasts, this book is the first comprehensive guide of its kind. It enables the reader to quickly identify 2,118 species of fish and includes over 2,500 color illustrations depicting the major forms of each species--male, female, immature, or geographical varieties. The text proceeds according to region, depicting each species and its varieties, and offering information on its geographic range and where on the coral reef itself the fish may be found. Important identification characteristics are highlighted on every color plate.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone interested in tropical marine fishes!


1) Stokes, Donald and Lillian. The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. 2010. Little, Brown and Company. Paperback: 791 pages. Price: $24.99 U.S.

SUMMARY: The culmination of many years of research, observation, and study, the new STOKES FIELD GUIDE includes more species, more photographs, and more useful identification information than any other photographic field guide.
     The guide features 853 North American bird species and more than 3,400 stunning color photographs. And yet it's portable enough to fit in your pocket (if you have really BIG pockets!).
     The photographs cover all significant plumages, including male, female, summer, winter, immature, morphs, important subspecies, and birds in flight. Also included
* the newest scientific and common names and phylogenetic order;
* special help for identifying birds in flight through important clues of behavior, plumage, and shape;
* detailed descriptions of songs and calls;
* important behavioral information;
* key habitat preferences of each species; and
* the newest range maps, detailing species' winter, summer, year-round ranges, and migration routes.
* includes a downloadable CD with more than 600 bird sounds and 150 photographs: the calls and songs of 150 common North American species.
 RECOMMENDATION: For intermediate and advanced birders. For beginners I recommend the Kaufman Field Guide here:

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Title

 1) Beletsky, Les. Global Birding: Traveling the World in Search of Birds. 2010. National Geographic. Hardbound: 320 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: This unprecedented new book is the first general "how-to" for international birding. Top-selling author Les Beletsky (Birds of the World, Birdsongs) explains what draws avid birders to other countries and where they like to go.
     For domestic birders who have already spotted many species on their life lists, Global Birding will show them how to build on their local knowledge by seeking out new species on other continents. Each of the book’s six chapters describes bird habitats and birding highlights on each continent, and offers practical pointers on international birding contacts and field guides. Engaging sidebars throughout the book tell short stories about birders’ adventures looking for special species or unique locations.
IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction on the subject.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


1) Lamb, Andy and Phil Edgell. Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest (revised and expanded second edition). 2010. Harbour Publishing. Paperback: 335 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: A completely revised and updated edition of this best-selling comprehensive field guide to marine fishes of BC, Washington, Oregon, southern Alaska and Northern California.
     Written by a marine biologist and illustrated in colour by a prizewinning underwater photographer, Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest identifies each fish by its common name and is illustrated with full-colour photographs and labelled sketches.
     Special sections present catching tips for anglers and commercial fishermen; location hints for divers, beachcombers and pleasure boaters; and cooking ideas for seafood gourmets. The information included in these sections provides a brief but detailed description of each fish’s habitat, physical characteristics and behaviour—everything that a fisherman or an amateur naturalist needs to know!
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone interested in the marine fishes of the Pacific Northwest of North America!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Titles

1) Hangay, George and Paul Zborowski. A Guide to the Beetles of Australia. 2010. CSIRO Publishing. Paperback: 238 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: A Guide to the Beetles of Australia provides a comprehensive introduction to the Coleoptera – a huge and diverse group of insects. Beetles make up 40 per cent of all insects known to science. The number of described beetle species in the world – around 350,000 – is more than six times the number of all vertebrate species.
     New beetle species are being discovered all the time. Of the 30,000 species that may occur in Australia, only 20,000 have been scientifically described. These include around 6500 weevils (Curculionidae), 2600 scarabs, dung beetles and chafers (Scarabaeidae); and 2250 leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae).
     A Guide to the Beetles of Australia highlights the enormous diversity of this unique insect Order. It emphasises the environmental role of beetles, their relationships with other plants and animals, and their importance to humans.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in beetles, especially the Australian species.

2) Keddy, Paul A.. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (Second Edition). 2010. Cambridge University Press. Paperback: 497 pages. Price: $69.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Richly illustrated and packed with numerous examples, this unique global perspective introduces wetland ecology from basic principles to advanced applications.
     Thoroughly revised and reorganised, this new edition of this prize-winning textbook begins with underlying causal factors, before moving on to more advanced concepts that add depth and context. Each chapter begins with an explanation of the basic principles covered, illustrated with clear examples. More difficult concepts and exceptions are introduced only once the general principle is well-established. Key principles are now discussed at the beginning of the book, and in order of relative importance, enabling students to understand the most important material without wading through complex theory. New chapters on wetland restoration and wetland services draw upon practical examples from around the world, providing a global context, and a new chapter on research will be particularly relevant to the advanced student planning their own studies.
RECOMMENDATION: Those with a technical interest in wetland ecology will find this textbook useful.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Title

1) Moller, Anders Pape et al. (editors). Effects of Climate Change on Birds. 2010. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 321 pages. Price: $62.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Climate change affects all living organisms; it has done so in the past and will do so in the future. However, current climate change is exceptional both in terms of the rate of change and the impact of multiple types of global change on individuals, populations, species, and ecosystems.
     Effects of Climate Change on Birds provides an exhaustive and up-to-date synthesis of the science of climate change as it relates to birds. Compared with any other class of animals, birds provide more long-term data and extensive time series (some dating back more than 100 years), a more geographically and taxonomically diverse source of information, and a longer tradition of extensive research. In fact this research record exceeds what is available in all other organisms combined.
 RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest on the subject.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Steampunk Fiction

I've recently taken an interest in Steampunk Fiction and I recommend these three titles:

1&2) Priest, Cherie. Boneshaker and Dreadnought. 2009 and 2010. Tor. Paperbacks: 416 pages and 400 pages. Prices: $15.99 and $14.99 U.S.
SUMMARIES: For Boneshaker; In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska's ice. Thus was Dr. Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

     But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue's widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.
     His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.
     For Dreadnought; Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy’s husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she’ll catch a train over the Rockies and—if the telegram can be believed—be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.

     Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.
     What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can’t imagine why they’re so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?
     Mercy is just a frustrated nurse who wants to see her father before he dies. But she’ll have to survive both Union intrigue and Confederate opposition if she wants to make it off the Dreadnought alive.

3) Westerfeld, Scott. Behemoth. 2010. Simon and Schuster. Hardbound: 485 pages. Price: $18.99 U.S.
SUMMARY: This is the second book in the Leviathan trilogy. The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker Powers.

     Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory. Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.
      Book three of the trilogy will be Mammoth.

The weekly Birdbooker Report

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Saturday, October 16, 2010


1) Forshaw, Joseph M.. Parrots of the World. 2010. Princeton University Press/Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd. Paperback: 328 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: From the macaws of South America to the cockatoos of Australia, parrots are among the most beautiful and exotic birds in the world--and also among the most endangered. This stunningly illustrated, easy-to-use field guide covers all 356 species and well-differentiated subspecies of parrots, and is the only guide organized by geographical distribution--Australasian, Afro-Asian, and neotropical. It features 146 superb color plates depicting every kind of parrot, as well as detailed, facing-page species accounts that describe key identification features, distribution, subspeciation, habitat, and status. Color distribution maps show ranges of all subspecies, and field identification is further aided by relevant upperside and underside flight images. This premier field guide also shows where to observe each species in the wild, helping make this the most comprehensive and user-friendly guide to the parrots of the world.
-The only parrot guide to focus on geographical distribution
-Covers all 356 species
-Features 146 color plates depicting all species and well-differentiated subspecies
-Provides detailed facing-page species accounts that describe key identification features,  distribution, subspeciation, habitat, and status
-Includes color distribution maps
-Shows where to observe each species in the wild

RECOMMENDATION: This book is the field guide version of the author's Parrots of the World: An Identification Guide (2006). The artwork by Frank Knight highlight this book! Anyone interested in parrots will want this book!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Title

 1)Sanchez-Villagra, Marcelo R. et al.(editors). Urumaco and Venezuelan Paleontology. 2010. Indiana University Press. Hardbound: 286 pages. Price: $49.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Urumaco and Venezuelan Paleontology offers a synthesis of the paleontological record of Venezuela, including new discoveries on stratigraphy, paleobotany, fossil invertebrates, and vertebrates. Besides providing a critical summary of the record of decapods, fishes, crocodiles, turtles, rodents, armadillos, and ungulates, several chapters introduce new information on the distribution and paleobiology of groups not previously studied in this part of the world. Given its position in the northern neotropics, close to the Panamanian land bridge, Venezuela is a key location for understanding faunal exchanges between the Americas in the recent geological past. The book reviews the recent paleobotanical and vertebrate fossil record of the region, provides an understanding of Pleistocene climatic change and biogeography for the last few thousand years, and integrates new information with summaries of Spanish language works on Venezuelan geology and paleontology.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in South American paleontology.

Book giveaway and forthcoming titles

Princeton University Press is giving away a copy of Jerry Liguori's Hawks from Every Angle (his forthcoming: Hawks at a Distance is due out in April 2011).  Detail are here:

Their (Spring) 2011 nature catalog (including forthcoming titles) can be found here:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Title

 1) Capainolo, Peter and Carol A. Butler. How Fast Can a Falcon Dive? Fascinating Answers to Questions about Birds of Prey. 2010. Rutgers University Press. Paperback: 220 pages. Price: $21.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: How Fast Can a Falcon Dive? explores the world of raptors in a way that will appeal to bird lovers and biology enthusiasts alike. This colorful volume is complete with more than fifty-five color and black and white images from photographers and artists around the world. In a reader friendly question and answer format, ornithologist Peter Capainolo and science writer Carol A. Butler define and classify raptors, explore the physical attributes of birds of prey, view how their bodies work, and explain the social and physical behaviors of these species—how they communicate, hunt, reproduce, and more. Capainolo, who received one of the first falconry licenses issued in New York state at age eighteen, relates his personal experience in falconry to describe raptor training and husbandry where the human-bird interactions are complex.
     From stories of red-tailed hawks making their homes on the ledges of Manhattan skyscrapers to their role in protecting California’s vineyards from flocks of grape-loving starlings, How Fast Can a Falcon Dive? explores how these predators of the sky have adapted to the human world.
 RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction on the subject.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Titles

1) Conniff, Richard. The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth. 2010. W.W. Norton. Hardbound: 464 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The story of bold adventurers who risked death to discover strange life forms in the farthest corners of planet Earth.
      Beginning with Linnaeus, a colorful band of explorers made it their mission to travel to the most perilous corners of the planet and bring back astonishing new life forms. They attracted followers ranging from Thomas Jefferson, who laid out mastodon bones on the White House floor, to twentieth-century doctors who used their knowledge of new species to conquer epidemic diseases. Acclaimed science writer Richard Conniff brings these daredevil "species seekers" to vivid life. Alongside their globe-spanning tales of adventure, he recounts some of the most dramatic shifts in the history of human thought. At the start, everyone accepted that the Earth had been created for our benefit. We weren't sure where vegetable ended and animal began, we couldn't classify species, and we didn't understand the causes of disease. But all that changed as the species seekers introduced us to the pantheon of life on Earth—and our place within it.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the history of natural history exploration and collecting.

2) Henderson, Carrol L.. Mammals, Amphibians, and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. 2010. University of Texas Press. Paperback: 198 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: To help visitors, as well as local residents, identify and enjoy the wildlife of Costa Rica, Carrol L. Henderson published Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica in 2002, and it instantly became the indispensable guide. Now Henderson has created a field guide dedicated to the monkeys, sloths, treefrogs, lizards, crocodiles, and other animals that travelers are most likely to see while exploring the wild lands of Costa Rica. He includes fascinating information on their natural history, ecology, identification, and behavior gleaned from his forty years of travels, studies, and wildlife viewing in Costa Rica, as well as details on where to see these remarkable and beautiful creatures. The mammals, amphibians, and reptiles are illustrated by stunning and colorful photographs—most of which were taken in the wild by Henderson. A detailed and invaluable appendix that identifies many of Costa Rica's best wildlife-watching destinations, lodges, and contact information for trip-planning purposes completes the volume.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction on the subject.

3) Sedaris, David. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. 2010. Little, Brown. Hardbound:163 pages. Price: $21.99 U.S.
SUMMARY: Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life.
     In "The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck," three strangers commiserate about animal bureaucracy while waiting in a complaint line. In "Hello Kitty," a cynical feline struggles to sit through his prison-mandated AA meetings. In "The Squirrel and the Chipmunk," a pair of star-crossed lovers is separated by prejudiced family members.
     With original illustrations by Ian Falconer, author of the bestselling Olivia series of children's books, these stories are David Sedaris at his most observant, poignant, and surprising.
 RECOMMENDATION: Fans of David Sedaris's work might like this book.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The October 2010 issue of National Geographic has a special report on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The table of contents is here:

Monday, October 4, 2010


1) Beletsky, Les (editor). Bird Songs Bible: The Complete, Illustrated Reference for North American Birds. 2010. Chronicle Books. Hardbound with carrying case: 535 pages. Price: $125.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: From the best-selling Bird Songs series comes the most comprehensive bird book ever published. Bird Songs Bible covers the sights and sounds of every single breeding bird in North America (including Hawaii)—nearly 750 in all. This utterly distinctive package features a state-of-the-art digital audio player that brings to life the birds' songs and calls with the touch of a button. Written by a panel of ornithological experts and produced with the renowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this indispensable reference features lavish illustrations of the birds and their habitats, scientifically accurate range maps, and detailed information on distribution, habitat, behavior, and vocalizations. A beautiful keepsake object, Bird Songs Bible is an essential volume for the true bird lover.
RECOMMENDATION: The perfect holiday/birthday gift for any birder! For a demo see here:

New Title

1) Seeley, Thomas D.. Honeybee Democracy. 2010. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 273 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Honeybees make decisions collectively--and democratically. Every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building. In fact, as world-renowned animal behaviorist Thomas Seeley reveals, these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision making. A remarkable and richly illustrated account of scientific discovery, Honeybee Democracy brings together, for the first time, decades of Seeley's pioneering research to tell the amazing story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees.
     In the late spring and early summer, as a bee colony becomes overcrowded, a third of the hive stays behind and rears a new queen, while a swarm of thousands departs with the old queen to produce a daughter colony. Seeley describes how these bees evaluate potential nest sites, advertise their discoveries to one another, engage in open deliberation, choose a final site, and navigate together--as a swirling cloud of bees--to their new home. Seeley investigates how evolution has honed the decision-making methods of honeybees over millions of years, and he considers similarities between the ways that bee swarms and primate brains process information. He concludes that what works well for bees can also work well for people: any decision-making group should consist of individuals with shared interests and mutual respect, a leader's influence should be minimized, debate should be relied upon, diverse solutions should be sought, and the majority should be counted on for a dependable resolution.
     An impressive exploration of animal behavior, Honeybee Democracy shows that decision-making groups, whether honeybee or human, can be smarter than even the smartest individuals in them.
RECOMMENDATION: Anyone with a serious interest in honeybees will like this book.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Forthcoming Title

A book on Pterosaurs by Mark Witton will be published by Princeton University Press during Fall 2011. See details here:

The weekly Birdbooker Report

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: