Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Title

1) Morris, Craig and Adriana von Hagen. The Incas. 2011. Thames & Hudson. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: This new survey provides the most up-to-date and authoritative account available of the ascendancy of the Incas, their politics, economics, religion, architecture, art and technology.
     Richly illustrated and written by leading experts, The Incas is the ideal introduction for the tourist, armchair traveller or student.
     The Incas built one of the largest empires of the ancient world. The sheer scale makes their achievement truly remarkable. At its zenith it extended northwards from the Inca capital Cusco along the Andes to embrace parts of modern Peru and Ecuador, and southwards into Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
     Uniquely, the authors look in detail at Cusco and at the four parts of the empire, following the vast road system to explore not just famous sites such as Machu Picchu, but all the major regional settlements.
     This vivid portrait shows how the Incas ruled some peoples directly but allowed others to maintain their traditional leaders with little interference. The concluding chapter is devoted to the end of the empire: the arrival of the Spaniards, the assassination of the Inca ruler Atawallpa, and the final years of the rebellious, neo-Inca state in the tropical forest of Vilcabamba.
RECOMMENDATION: If you have an interest in the Incas, you'll want this book!

New Titles

1) Goodfellow, Peter. Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer & Build. 2011. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 160 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. Avian Architecture describes how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, deconstructing all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use. This spectacularly illustrated book features 300 full-color images and more than 35 case studies that profile key species worldwide. Each chapter covers a different type of nest, from tunnel nests and mound nests to floating nests, hanging nests, woven nests, and even multiple-nest avian cities. Other kinds of avian construction--such as bowers and harvest wells--are also featured.
     Avian Architecture includes intricate step-by-step sequences, visual spreads on nest-building materials and methods, and insightful commentary by a leading expert.

*Illustrates how birds around the world design, engineer, and build their nests
*Features architectural blueprints, step-by-step sequences, visual spreads on nest-building materials and   methods, and expert commentary
*Includes 300 full-color images
*Covers more than 100 bird species worldwide

RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction into the nest building behavior of birds.

2) van Perlo, Ber. Collins Field Guide: Birds of New Zealand, Hawaii, Central and West Pacific. 2011. Collins UK. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: GBP 29.99 (about $48.35 U.S.).

SUMMARY: The essential guide to identifying every species of bird you may see in this area, for both tourists and wildlife enthusiasts.
      Featuring over 750 species, Birds of New Zealand, Hawaii, Central and West Pacific is the only field guide to illustrate and describe every species of bird you may see in the area, from Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea to Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
      Other features include:
• Text gives information on key identification features, habitat, and songs and calls
• All plumages for each species are illustrated, including those of males, females and juveniles
* The stunning 95 colour plates appear opposite their relevant text for quick and easy reference.
* Distribution maps are included, showing where each species can be found and how common it is, to further aid identification.
     This comprehensive and highly portable guide is a must for all birdwatchers visiting the region.
RECOMMENDATION: The range maps are too small and the text is brief. I prefer: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific by H. Douglas Pratt et al. (1987, I understand a second edition is in the works!).


1) Redfern, Margaret. Plant Galls. 2011. Collins UK. Paperback: 562 pages. Price: GBP 30 (about $45.00 U.S.).

SUMMARY: A much-needed new study on plant galls – growths on plants formed of plant tissue that are caused by other organisms.
     Most naturalists have come across oak apples, robin’s pincushions, marble galls and witches’ brooms, a few of the more familiar examples of the strange growths that are plant galls. They are beautiful, often bizarre and colourful, and amazingly diverse in structure and in the organisms which cause them. They have been known since ancient times and have attracted superstitions and folk customs. Both the ancient Greeks and the Chinese used them in herbal medicine, and until well into the nineteenth century, they had a variety of commercial uses: important for dyeing cloth, tanning leather and for making ink.
     Knowledge of gall types increased during the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century as more species were described and their structure became more clearly understood, and yet even today, little is known about the mechanisms that cause gall formation as well as the life cycles of the organisms that initiate gall growth. Since most galls do not cause any economic damage to crop plants, research funding has traditionally been sparse in this area. However, the insect cycles and gall structures are amazing examples of the complexity of nature. Margaret Redfern explores these fascinating complexities in this latest New Naturalist volume, providing much-needed insight into the variety of galls of different types caused by a wide range of organisms including fungi, insects and mites. She discusses the ecology of galls more generally and focuses on communities of organisms within galls, the evolution and distribution of galls, as well as human and historical perspectives.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in plant galls or for collectors of the New Naturalist titles!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Titles

1) Foege, William H.. House On Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox. 2011. University of California Press. Hardbound: 218 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: A story of courage and risk-taking, House on Fire tells how smallpox, a disease that killed, blinded, and scarred millions over centuries of human history, was completely eradicated in a spectacular triumph of medicine and public health. Part autobiography, part mystery, the story is told by a man who was one of the architects of a radical vaccination scheme that became a key strategy in ending the horrible disease when it was finally contained in India. In House on Fire, William H. Foege describes his own experiences in public health and details the remarkable program that involved people from countries around the world in pursuit of a single objective—eliminating smallpox forever. Rich with the details of everyday life, as well as a few adventures, House on Fire gives an intimate sense of what it is like to work on the ground in some of the world’s most impoverished countries—and tells what it is like to contribute to programs that really do change the world.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting account on how smallpox was eradicated.

2) Lewis-Williams, David and Sam Chalis. Deciphering Ancient Minds: The Mystery of San Bushman Rock Art. 2011. Thames & Hudson. Hardbound: 224 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: How did ancient peoples – those living before written records – think? This elegantly written, enlightening book demonstrates that the ‘prehistoric’ mind was as complex and sophisticated as our own.
     Researchers over the years have believed their modes of thought fundamentally different from ours. Along with the Aborigines of Australia, the San people of southern Africa – among the last hunter-gatherers on Earth – were viewed either as irrational fantasists or childlike, spiritual conservationists.
     New research has overturned these misconceptions. Here, the great authority David Lewis-Williams and his colleague Sam Challis reveal how the rock paintings and engravings can be made to yield insights into San beliefs and ways of thought.
     Comprehensive transcriptions, made in the nineteenth century, exist of interviews with San people who were shown copies of the art and gave their interpretations of them. Using these and the analogy of the Rosetta Stone with its parallel texts, the authors move between the rock art and the San texts, teasing out the subtle meanings behind them both. The picture that emerges is very different from past analysis: this art is not a naïve narrative of daily life but rather is imbued with power and religious depth.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in African prehistory.

New Title

1) Camp, Pamela and John G. Gamon (editors). Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Washington. 2011. University of Washington Press. Paperback: 392 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Washington offers a window into the beauty and diversity of the rarest plants in the state.
     The field guide includes:

-317 vascular plants, six mosses, and one lichen
-Full-color photographs of the plants and their habitats, line drawings, and distribution maps
-Detailed species descriptions, identification tips, and easiest times to identify the plants
-Current conservation status and state rank
-Complete reference list, and glossary

     Each rare plant is fully characterized according to its appearance, reproductive strategy, associated plants, habitat, current threats, and scarcity in areas outside the state. A trip across Washington presents an array of habitats, from dripping spruce and hemlock forests along the coast to arid grasslands, shrub-steppe, and sand dune systems east of the mountains, from low-elevation outwash prairies to alpine slopes, from basalt flows and rocky islands to salt marshes and riverbanks. This book brings attention to the rarest and least understood plant species that find niches in this complex landscape.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the plants of Washington State!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Title

1) Deamer, David. First Life: Discovering the Connections between Stars, Cells, and How Life Began. 2011. University of California Press. Hardbound: 272 pages. Price: $28.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: This pathbreaking book explores how life can begin, taking us from cosmic clouds of stardust, to volcanoes on Earth, to the modern chemistry laboratory. Seeking to understand life’s connection to the stars, David Deamer introduces astrobiology, a new scientific discipline that studies the origin and evolution of life on Earth and relates it to the birth and death of stars, planet formation, interfaces between minerals, water, and atmosphere, and the physics and chemistry of carbon compounds. Deamer argues that life began as systems of molecules that assembled into membrane-bound packages. These in turn provided an essential compartment in which more complex molecules assumed new functions required for the origin of life and the beginning of evolution. Deamer takes us from the vivid and unpromising chaos of the Earth four billion years ago up to the present and his own laboratory, where he contemplates the prospects for generating synthetic life.
     Engaging and accessible, First Life describes the scientific story of astrobiology while presenting a fascinating hypothesis to explain the origin of life.
RECOMMENDATION: A semi-technical account on the origin of life on Earth.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recent Title

1) Fitter, Julian, Daniel Fitter and David Hosking. Wildlife of the Galapagos. 2002. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 256 pages. Price: 19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The Galápagos is a truly special place. Unlike the rest of the world's archipelagoes, it still has 95 percent of its prehuman quota of species. Wildlife of the Galápagos is the most superbly illustrated and comprehensive identification guide ever to the natural splendor of these incomparable islands--islands today threatened by alien species and diseases that have diminished but not destroyed what so enchanted Darwin on his arrival there in 1835. Covering over 200 commonly seen birds, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, and plants, it reveals the archipelago's striking beauty through more than 400 color photographs, maps, and drawings and well-written, informative text.

     While the Galápagos Giant Tortoise, the Galápagos Sea Lion, and the Flightless Cormorant are recognized the world over, these thirty-three islands--in the Pacific over 600 miles from mainland Ecuador--are home to many more unique but less famous species. Here, reptiles well outnumber mammals, for they were much better at drifting far from a continent the archipelago was never connected with; the largest native land mammals are rice rats. The islands' sixty resident bird species include the only penguin to breed entirely in the tropics and to inhabit the Northern Hemisphere.
     There is a section offering tips on photography in the Equatorial sunlight, and maps of visitors' sites as well as information on the archipelago's history, climate, geology, and conservation. Wildlife of the Galápagos is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to know what so delighted Darwin.

*Covers over 200 commonly seen species including birds, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, plants, and coastal and marine life
*Illustrated with over 400 color photographs, maps, and drawings; includes maps of visitors' sites
*Written by wildlife experts with extensive knowledge of the area
*Includes information on the history, climate, geology, and conservation of the islands

The most complete identification guide to the wildlife of the Galápagos.
RECOMMENDATION: Although quite useful, it needs to be updated!

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Title

1) Ernst, Carl H. and Evelyn M. Ernst. Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico (Volume 1: Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, and Sistrurus). 2011. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 352 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years.
     Volume One of this definitive work presents dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico's twenty-fifth parallel. Volume Two will cover the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.
     Ernst and Ernst have painstakingly researched and verified the highly valuable and detailed information in this volume, including every detail of the lives of these fascinating and sometimes deadly animals. Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico provides facts on each animal's diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.
     Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico represents the latest research on these animals and includes the most extensive bibliography of literature on the subject. Anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general will find a wealth of information within the pages of these impressive volumes.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in venomous reptiles. Volume 2 is due out in Spring 2012.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Title

1) Shipman, Pat. The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human. 2011. W.W. Norton. Hardbound: 336 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: A bold, illuminating new take on the love of animals that drove human evolution.
     Why do humans all over the world take in and nurture other animals? This behavior might seem maladaptive-after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat-but in this heartening new study, acclaimed anthropologist Pat Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species' greatest strengths. For the last 2.6 million years, Shipman explains, humans who coexisted with animals enjoyed definite adaptive and cultural advantages. To illustrate this point, Shipman gives us a tour of the milestones in human civilization-from agriculture to art and even language-and describes how we reached each stage through our unique relationship with other animals. The Animal Connection reaffirms our love of animals as something both innate and distinctly human, revealing that the process of domestication not only changed animals but had a resounding impact on us as well.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting take on human/animal interactions throughout prehistory and recent history.

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Edition

1) Oddie, Bill. Bill Oddie's Little Black Bird Book. 2011. Portico. Hardbound: 144 pages. Price: GBP 9.99 (about $16.15 U.S.).

SUMMARY: Bird-watchers are tense, competitive, selfish, shifty, dishonest, distrusting, boorish, pedantic, unsentimental, arrogant and – above all – envious'. So says Bill Oddie, and he should know! This scurrilous little classic - unavailable for some years and now reissued - is a must for all those obsessed birders and twitchers (and as Bill relates, there is a mighty difference!) who trudge the moors and riverbanks, sewage farms and power stations, come gale or come shine, in search of that ever illusive rare beauty that no one else has spotted. The joy of Bill Oddie's book is that he has so obviously been there, and he dares to say in his knowledgeable and often hilarious way all the things that other b's and t's will recognize as true but which they have never dared to own up or admit to, even to themselves. Whether Bill is talking about equipment, apparel, sightings, cock-ups, the kind of places to go to and the places (and people) to avoid, the birds he's seen and the birds that got away, his enthusiasm is infectious and boundless - just those delightful qualities that make his regular TV series so very popular. Described by British Birdwatching as 'the funniest book on bird watching I have ever read' this is the one book that no serious birdwatcher can afford to leave out of the rucksack.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for every serious (and especially unserious!) Birdwatcher/birder!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


1) Abbott, John C.. Damselflies of Texas: A Field Guide. 2011. University of Texas Press. Paperback: 268 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: On any warm summer day, you can easily observe damselflies around a vegetated pond or the rocks along the banks of a stream. Like the more familiar dragonfly, damselflies are among the most remarkably distinctive insects in their appearance and biology, and they have become one of the most popular creatures sought by avocational naturalists.
     Damselflies of Texas is the first field guide dedicated specifically to the species found in Texas. It covers 77 of the 138 species of damselflies known in North America, making it a very useful guide for the entire United States. Each species account includes:

*illustrations of as many forms (male, female, juvenile, mature, and color morphs) as possible
*common and scientific names, with pronunciation
*distribution map
*key features
*identifying characteristics
*discussion of similar species
*status in Texas
*habitat, seasonality, and general comments

    In addition to photographing damselflies in the wild, the author and illustrator have developed a new process for illustrating each species by scanning preserved specimens and digitally painting them. The resulting illustrations show detail that is not visible in photographs. The book also contains chapters on damselfly anatomy, life history, conservation, names, and photography, as well as a list of species that may eventually be discovered in Texas, state and global conservation rankings, seasonality of all species in chronological order, and additional resources and publications on the identification of damselflies.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the Odonata of Texas!

New Title

1) Canfield, Michael R. (editor). Field Notes on Science & Nature. 2011. Harvard University Press. Hardbound: 297 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Once in a great while, as the New York Times noted recently, a naturalist writes a book that changes the way people look at the living world. John James Audubon’s Birds of America, published in 1838, was one. Roger Tory Peterson’s 1934 Field Guide to the Birds was another. How does such insight into nature develop?
     Pioneering a new niche in the study of plants and animals in their native habitat, Field Notes on Science and Nature allows readers to peer over the shoulders and into the notebooks of a dozen eminent field workers, to study firsthand their observational methods, materials, and fleeting impressions.
     What did George Schaller note when studying the lions of the Serengeti? What lists did Kenn Kaufman keep during his 1973 “big year”? How does Piotr Naskrecki use relational databases and electronic field notes? In what way is Bernd Heinrich’s approach “truly Thoreauvian,” in E. O. Wilson’s view? Recording observations in the field is an indispensable scientific skill, but researchers are not generally willing to share their personal records with others. Here, for the first time, are reproductions of actual pages from notebooks. And in essays abounding with fascinating anecdotes, the authors reflect on the contexts in which the notes were taken.
     Covering disciplines as diverse as ornithology, entomology, ecology, paleontology, anthropology, botany, and animal behavior, Field Notes offers specific examples that professional naturalists can emulate to fine-tune their own field methods, along with practical advice that amateur naturalists and students can use to document their adventures.
 RECOMMENDATION: An interesting look into the art and science of field note taking.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Titles

1) Haahtela, Tari et al.. Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide. 2011. A&C Black. Paperback: 383 pages. Price: GBP:16.99 (about $27.53 U.S.).

SUMMARY: This book looks in detail at the 440 species of European butterflies. Showcasing the stunning macro photography of the authors, this is a photographic field guide with a difference. Detailed text provides information on features such as identification, confusion species, habitat, lifestyle and larval host plant, accompanied by accurate range maps. The photographs have been carefully selected to allow identification from views of upperwing and, where possible, underwing.
     This comprehensive and detailed book is the ideal companion for anyone interested in European butterflies. The book is available here: http://www.acblack.com/naturalhistory/Butterflies-of-Britain-and-Europe/Tari-Haahtela-Kimmo-Saarinen-Pekka-Ojalainen-Hannu-Aarnio/books/details/9781408104743
RECOMMENDATION: If you're into European butterflies, you'll want this book! I also recommend this book:

2) Louv, Richard. The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder. 2011. Algonquin Books Of Chapel Hill. Hardbound: 317 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: The immediacy of Richard Louv’s message in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder galvanized an international movement to reconnect children with nature. Now, in The Nature Principle, Louv reaches even further with a powerful call to action for the rest of us.
     Our society, says Louv, has developed such an outsized faith in technology that we have yet to fully realize or even adequately study how human capacities are enhanced through the power of nature. Supported by groundbreaking research, anecdotal evidence, and compelling personal stories, Louv shows us how tapping into the restorative powers of the natural world can boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies; and ultimately strengthen human bonds. As he says in his introduction, The Nature Principle is “about the power of living in nature—not with it, but in it. We are entering the most creative period in history. The twenty-first century will be the century of human restoration in the natural world.”
     Richard Louv makes a convincing case that through a nature-balanced existence—driven by sound economic, social, and environmental solutions—the human race can and will thrive. This timely, inspiring, and important work will give readers renewed hope while challenging them to rethink the way we live.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's Last Child in the Woods, you'll enjoy this book!

3) Lowen, James. Antarctic Wildlife: A Visitor's Guide. 2011. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 240 pages. Price: $22.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Antarctic Wildlife is the definitive identification guide to the birds and marine mammals of the Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage, and Beagle Channel. This easy-to-use photographic field guide enables visitors to this unique region of the world--newcomer and seasoned traveler alike--to identify with confidence the penguins, whales, seals, seabirds, and other stunning wildlife they encounter on their journey. Full-color photographs show typical views of each species of bird or marine mammal, together with the terrestrial plants likely to be seen. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, give tips on where to look, and highlight interesting facts. This one-of-a-kind guide also includes introductory chapters that cover the wildlife of each Antarctic environment by season, as well as information on tourism and Antarctic cruising that will help visitors get the most from their trip.
     Antarctic Wildlife is a must-have photographic guide for travelers taking the standard cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina, to the great white continent, and for anyone interested in the diverse wildlife found in this remote part of the world.

*Covers the wildlife of the Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage, and Beagle Channel
*Features full-color photographs throughout
*Describes key identification features and gives tips on where to look
*Includes an introduction to Antarctic environments and information on Antarctic cruising

RECOMMENDATION: A must have guide for those visiting Antarctica! I also recommend this title:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Title

1) Jio, Sarah. The Violets of March: A Novel. 2011. Plume. Paperback: 296 pages. Price: $15.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.
      In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.
     Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.
     A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.
RECOMMENDATION: A good Summer beach read (preferably on an island!).

New Titles

1) Mattison, Chris. Frogs and Toads of the World. 2011. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 192 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: With nearly 6,000 species currently identified, frogs and toads are the most familiar and abundant amphibians on the planet. Frogs and Toads of the World is a comprehensive guide to the natural history of this large and diverse group of creatures. Stunningly illustrated throughout with 200 color photographs, this one-of-a-kind book traces the evolution and classification of frogs and toads, providing detailed information about each of the 49 unique families and highlighting distinctive and notable species. It vividly describes their remarkable diversity in shape, color, and markings; anatomy and development; life cycle; habitats; the various methods they use to attract mates and hunt for food; and the physiological and behavioral tricks they use to survive and thrive around the world.
     This indispensable guide also explores frogs' interaction with humans, from modern-day collection for the meat trade, scientific research, and the trade in exotic pets to how their survival is being threatened by habitat destruction, climate change, and disease.

*A comprehensive guide to the natural history of frogs and toads
*Features 200 stunning color photographs
*Covers each of the 49 unique frog families
*Describes anatomy, life cycle, habitats, survival tricks, and more.

RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction on the subject.

2) Tveit, Bjorn Olav. A Birdwatcher's Guide to Norway. 2011. Orn Forlag. Paperback: 471 pages. Price: 44 EUR (about $62.09 U.S.).
SUMMARY: For the first time ever, here is a guide to the birdwatching sites of Norway, including the arctic archipelago of Svalbard (Spitsbergen). More than 350 sites are covered with detailed maps and descriptions on what to see, when to go and how to get there on your own. The book includes famous places such as Finnmark, Varanger, Pasvik, Lofoten, Utsira, Lista and Jæren, and shows you many of the best birds near cities such as Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger and Tromsø.
     Here are also suggestions and advice on how to find the most sought-after species, including Lesser White-fronted Goose, King Eider, Steller’s Eider, Smew, Hazel Grouse, Rock Ptarmigan, Capercaillie, White-billed Diver, Storm Petrel, White-tailed Eagle, Gyr Falcon, Dotterel, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Great Snipe, Grey Phalarope, Long-tailed Skua, Ross’s Gull, Ivory Gull, Sabine’s Gull, Brünnich’s Guillemot, Little Auk, Puffin, Eagle Owl, Snowy Owl, Hawk Owl, Ural Owl, Great Grey Owl, Black Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-throated Pipit, Waxwing, Thrush Nightingale, Bluethroat, Barred Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Bearded Tit, Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay, Arctic Redpoll, Parrot Crossbill, Common Rosefinch, Pine Grosbeak, Rustic Bunting, Little Bunting and many more.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding in Norway! The book can be ordered here: http://www.ornforlag.no/BirdwatchersGuideNorway                              This title is now available from Buteo Books here:

3) Wild, Cole (with Nicholas Komar). Wild Birding Colorado: The Big Year of 2010. 2011. Outskirts Press. Paperback: 136 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: This book provides the thrilling account of Cole Wild’s amazing feat of establishing the record for most Colorado bird species seen in one year, a Colorado BIG YEAR. The text is a treasure trove of birding tips for where and when to find some of the state’s most elusive species, such as Boreal Owl and Black Swift. One chapter recounts the discovery near Denver of a Ross's Gull, which attracted thousands of birders from around the country. Photos of some of the rarer finds and the complete checklist are included. This book is a must read for anyone interested in birds and birding in Colorado, and for birders everywhere, experts and novices alike.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoy reading about birding big years, you should enjoy this book.


1) Cunningham, Laura. A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California. 2010. Heyday Books. Hardbound: 350 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: A remarkable vision of the Golden State.
     Vernal pools, protected lagoons, grassy hills rich in bunchgrasses and, where the San Francisco Bay is today, ancient bison and mammoths roaming a vast grassland. Through the use of historical ecology, Laura Cunningham walks through these forgotten landscapes to uncover secrets about the past, explore what our future will hold, and experience the ever-changing landscape of California.
     Combining the skill of an accomplished artist with passion for landscapes and training as a naturalist, Cunningham has spent more than two decades poring over historical accounts, paleontology findings, and archaeological data. Traveling with paintbox in hand, she tracked the remaining vestiges of semipristine landscape like a detective, seeking clues that revealed the California of past centuries. She traveled to other regions as well, to sketch grizzly bears, wolves, and other magnificent creatures that are gone from California landscapes. In her studio, Cunningham created paintings of vast landscapes and wildlife from the raw data she had collected, her own observations in the wild, and her knowledge of ecological laws and processes.
     Through A State of Change, readers are given the pure pleasure of wandering through these wondrous and seemingly exotic scenes of Old California and understanding the possibilities for both change and conservation in our present-day landscape. A State of Change is as vital as it is visionary.
RECOMMENDATION: The artwork highlights this book! A must have for those with an interest in prehistoric California.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Title

1) Hutchins, Ray. Apes: Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Orangutans and Gibbons. 2011. Merlin Publications. Hardbound: 80 pages. Price: GBP 12.99 (about $21.04 U.S.).

SUMMARY: Excellent, well-illustrated introductory guide to all species and subspecies of gorilla, chimpanzee, orangutan and gibbon, which would also serve as an educational resource. Preliminary sections explain how the apes are related and provide information on biology, ecology, life history, behaviour and physiology.
     The bulk of the book is devoted to species accounts: 7 species of Great ape in 4 genera and 16 species of Lesser ape in 4 genera. Each species account contains information on appearance, distribution, population size, conservation, breeding biology and ecology. Each account is laid out as a 2-page spread for easy cross-referencing.
     It is the artwork that makes the book stand out. Ray Hutchins brings his skills as an artist to produce attractive, accurate images of all the species.
     The title has been endorsed by the Jane Goodall Institute and The Orangutan Foundation.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to our closest living relatives that will be most useful to the general public, especially school children!

New Title

1) Macdougall, Doug. Why Geology Matters: Decoding the Past, Anticipating the Future. 2011. University of California Press. Hardbound: 285 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Volcanic dust, climate change, tsunamis, earthquakes—geoscience explores phenomena that profoundly affect our lives. But more than that, as Doug Macdougall makes clear, the science also provides important clues to the future of the planet. In an entertaining and accessibly written narrative, Macdougall gives an overview of Earth’s astonishing history based on information extracted from rocks, ice cores, and other natural archives.
     He explores such questions as: What is the risk of an asteroid striking Earth? Why does the temperature of the ocean millions of years ago matter today? How are efforts to predict earthquakes progressing? Macdougall also explains the legacy of greenhouse gases from Earth’s past and shows how that legacy shapes our understanding of today’s human-caused climate change. We find that geoscience in fact illuminates many of today’s most pressing issues—the availability of energy, access to fresh water, sustainable agriculture, maintaining biodiversity—and we discover how, by applying new technologies and ideas, we can use it to prepare for the future.
RECOMMENDATION: A readable introduction to Earth's geology.


1) Seba, Albertus. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. 2011. Taschen. Hardbound: 415 pages. Price: $39.99 U.S.

SUMMARY: Albertus Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities is one of the 18th century's greatest natural history achievements and remains one of the most prized natural history books of all time. Though scientists of his era often collected natural specimens for research purposes, Amsterdam-based pharmacist Albertus Seba (1665-1736) was unrivaled in his passion. His amazing collection of animals, plants and insects from all around the world gained international fame during his lifetime. In 1731, after decades of collecting, Seba commissioned illustrations of every specimen and arranged the publication of a four-volume catalog–from strange and exotic plants to snakes, frogs, crocodiles, shellfish, corals, birds, and butterflies, as well as fantastic beasts, such as a hydra and a dragon.
     Seba's scenic illustrations, often mixing plants and animals in a single plate, were unusual even for the time. The more peculiar creatures from the collection–some of them now extinct–were as curious in Seba's day as they are today.
     This reproduction is taken from a rare, hand-colored original. The introduction supplies background information about the fascinating tradition to which Seba's curiosities belonged.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those that collect early natural history books and/or art! This multilingual edition comes in English, French, and German.

New Title

1) Barber, Lynn E.. Extreme Birder: One Woman's Big Year. 2011. Texas A&M University Press. Flexibound: 283 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: One woman . . . one year . . . 723 species of birds. . .
     In 2008, Lynn Barber's passion for birding led her to drive, fly, sail, walk, stalk, and sit in search of birds in twenty-five states and three provinces. Traveling more than 175,000 miles, she set a twenty-first century record at the time, second to only one other person in history.
     Over 272 days, Barber observed 723 species of birds in North America north of Mexico, recording a remarkable 333 new species in January but, with the dwindling returns typical to Big Year birding, only eight in December, a month that found her crisscrossing the continent from Texas to Newfoundland, from Washington to Ontario. In the months between, she felt every extreme of climate, well-being, and emotion. But, whether finally spotting an elusive Blue Bunting or seeing three species of eiders in a single day, she was also challenged, inspired, and rewarded by nearly every experience.
     Barber's journal from her American Birding Association-sanctioned Big Year covers the highlights of her treks to forests, canyons, mountain ranges, deserts, oceans, lakes, and numerous spots in between. Written in the informal style of a diary, it captures the detail, humor, challenges, and fun of a good adventure travelogue and also conveys the remarkable diversity of North American birds and habitat. For actual or would-be “travel birders,” Lynn Barber’s Extreme Birder provides a fascinating, binoculars-eye view of one of the best-loved pastimes of nature lovers everywhere.
RECOMMENDATION: The author's artwork and photography highlight this book. Birders should enjoy this big year narrative.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Title

1) Sodhi, Navjot S. et al. Conservation of Tropical Birds. 2011. Wiley-Blackwell. Hardbound: 300 pages. Price: $129.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Conservation of Tropical Birds has been written by four conservation biologists whose expertise spans all the tropical regions of the world. It is the first book to cover all the major issues in tropical bird conservation. Current problems faced by tropical bird conservationists are summarised and potential solutions outlined based on the results of case studies.
     Birds are key indicators of ecosystem health, and such a well-studied group of organisms, that they provide an excellent lens through which to examine global conservation problems caused by phenomena such as climate change, declines in ecosystem services, habitat loss, fires, overexploitation, and invasive species. Therefore, the book also provides an engaging synopsis of the general issues in conservation and the problems faced by other wildlife.
     This book serves as an important resource and companion to all people interested in observing and conserving birds in the tropics and elsewhere. For more information go to here:
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in bird conservation.

New Title

1) Boyle, William J. Jr.. The Birds of New Jersey: Status and Distribution. 2011. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 308 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: New Jersey provides some of the most varied and exciting birding in North America, and more than 450 species have been recorded in the state. Yet there has been no comprehensive and readily available guide to the status and distribution of all these species--until now. The Birds of New Jersey is the most up-to-date and succinct guide for the birds of New Jersey and includes all species known to the state from historical times to the present. Featuring over 200 color photos of rarities and regular species, this book authoritatively provides individual entries that include a summary of status and seasonal distribution, and comments on changes over time. Detailed color-coded maps accompany species accounts, and for species recorded five or fewer times, dates and locations of each record are noted. The introduction examines the state's geography, the history of bird records, and background information to species accounts, and the extensive bibliography guides birders to original sources used in the book. This is the essential resource for birders, ornithologists, and nature enthusiasts interested in the birds of New Jersey and the greater surrounding region.

*Most up-to-date status and distribution guide for New Jersey and surrounding region
*All bird species known to the state
*Species accounts describe the preferred habitat and abundance of species
*Range maps in color detail seasonal distribution
*For migratory birds, spring and fall migration times indicated
*More than 200 color photographs of rare and common species

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for birders with an interest in the birds of New Jersey!