Friday, November 12, 2010

New Titles

1) Davies, Alan and Ruth Miller. The Biggest Twitch: Around the World in 4,000 birds. 2010. Helm. Paperback: 301 pages. Price: 12.99 GBP (about $21.00 U.S.).

SUMMARY: Most people dream of packing in their humdrum city life, selling up and heading off into the unknown for a life of adventure. For Ruth Miller and Alan Davies this dream became a reality, albeit with a twist; they decided to pack in their jobs, sell their house and take on the ultimate birder's challenge - to smash the world record for the number of species seen in one calendar year.
     This book is the story of their great expedition, searching for birds from Ecuador to Ethiopia via Argentina, Australia and Arizona. We follow this birding odyssey as they rachet up the species and the stamps in their passports, sharing in amazing birding experiences such as monkey-hunting Harpy Eagles in the Brazilian rain forest, seedsnipes in the Peruvian highlands and lekking bustards in South Africa, all leading to the ultimate question - will they break the magic 4,000?
     Written in an accessible style, this book will be of great interest to birders, readers of travel literature, and to people who simply enjoy a good adventure!
RECOMMENDATION: Birders and eco-tourists will enjoy this book! This title is available here:

2) Donald, Paul F. et al.. Facing Extinction: The World's Rarest Birds and the Race to Save Them. 2010. T & A D Poyser. Hardbound: 312 pages. Price: 45.00 GBP (about $72.50 U.S.).
SUMMARY: Almost two hundred species of birds have become extinct in the past 400 years, and a similar number today are in imminent danger of following them. The world’s conservationists are leading the fight to prevent the demise of these remaining critically endangered birds, with a fair degree of success. This new book examines the process and issues concerning extinction – how and why it happens and what can be done about it. Whilst man is to blame for many of the causes, such as persecution and habitat loss, species have become extinct on a regular basis since life began. After several thought-provoking introductory chapters, the book showcases about 20 species on the brink of extinction from around the world and describes the work that is being undertaken to save them. Some are success stories, but a few are not. This is a subject close to the hearts of all birders and ornithologists and this book, written by a team of leading conservationists, will strike a chord in most of them.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in bird conservation. This title is available here:

3) Laurin, Michel. How Vertebrates Left the Water. 2010. University of California Press. Hardbound:199 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: More than three hundred million years ago—a relatively recent date in the two billion years since life first appeared—vertebrate animals first ventured onto land. This usefully illustrated book describes how some finned vertebrates acquired limbs, giving rise to more than 25,000 extant tetrapod species. Michel Laurin uses paleontological, geological, physiological, and comparative anatomical data to describe this monumental event. He summarizes key concepts of modern paleontological research, including biological nomenclature, paleontological and molecular dating, and the methods used to infer phylogeny and character evolution. Along with a discussion of the evolutionary pressures that may have led vertebrates onto dry land, the book also shows how extant vertebrates yield clues about the conquest of land and how scientists uncover evolutionary history.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in vertebrate paleontology.

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