Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Title

1) Withers, Martin B. and David Hosking. Wildlife of Southern Africa. 2011. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 272 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Highly portable, concise, and informative, this is the essential guide for identifying Southern Africa's most visible wildlife. Featuring full-color photos of more than 400 species of birds, mammals, snakes, lizards, and insects, Wildlife of Southern Africa provides a spectacular sense of what travelers can see in the major game reserves and national parks of South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and southern Mozambique. Each species in this guide is accompanied by at least one full-color photograph plus a full textual description. Tips on wildlife photography as well as information on how to make the most of a safari are also included. This is a must-have guide for anyone planning or dreaming about a visit to this fascinating part of the world.
     This book includes:

*Highly portable and informative guide to the wildlife of Southern Africa
*Hundreds of full-color photos detail more than 400 species
*At least one full-color photograph and full textual description for each species
*Tips on wildlife photography and making the most of a safari

RECOMMENDATION: Focuses mostly on birds and mammals. This book will be most useful for ecotourists and general naturalists.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Title

1) Mulder, Christa P.H. et al. (editors). Seabird Islands: Ecology, Invasion, and Restoration. 2011. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 492 pages. Price: $79.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Islands with large colonies of seabirds are found throughout the globe. Seabird islands provide nesting and roosting sites for birds that forage at sea, deposit marine nutrients on land, and physically alter these islands. Habitats for numerous endemic and endangered animal and plant species, seabird islands are therefore biodiversity hotspots with high priority for conservation.
     Successful campaigns to eradicate predators (e.g., rats and cats) from seabird islands have been conducted worldwide. However, removal of predators will not necessarily lead to natural recovery of seabirds or other native species. Restoration of island ecosystems requires social acceptance of eradications, knowledge of how island food webs function, and a long-term commitment to measuring and assisting the recovery process.
     This book, written collaboratively by and for ecologists and resource managers, provides the first large-scale cross-system compilation, comparison, and synthesis of the ecology of seabird island systems. Offering a new conceptual framework into which to fit the impacts of seabirds on island ecology, this is an essential resource for academics and resource managers alike. This book features:

*Proves the first large-scale cross-system comparisons of seabird islands
*Global focus: identifies a globally widespread ecosystem, the threats to it and methods that can be applied to resolve these threats
*Connects the restoration of islands through predator removal and native species re-establishment with community and ecosystem processes that support those species
*Contributors bring first-hand experience of fifteen island systems, and reference over 250 islands and archipelagos that cover a broad range of climatic variables, vegetation types, and human histories.

RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in seabird conservation. For a non-technical read on the same subject, I recommend Rat Island by William Stolzenburg here:

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Title

1) Dunne, Pete. The Art of Bird Finding: Before You ID Them, You Have to See Them. 2011. Stackpole Books. Paperback: 82 pages. Price: $14.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Filling a gap in the vast literature on birding, Pete Dunne explains in his distinctive style how to find birds--the often-ignored first step in identifying, observing, and listing bird species. This book includes information on:
    *The best strategies for locating birds in any season and in every kind of weather
    *Techniques and expert advice applicable to species in habitats and environments throughout North America
    *For beginning bird-watchers or experienced birders who want to improve their chances for success.

RECOMMENDATION: Most birders will find something useful in this book!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


1) Pratt, H. Douglas. The Hawaiian Honeycreepers (Bird Families of the World). 2005. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 342 pages. Price: $260.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: The Hawaiian Honeycreepers are typified by nectar feeding, their bright colouration and canary-like songs. They are considered one of the finest examples of adaptive radiation, even more diverse than Darwin's Galapagos finches, as a wide array of different species has evolved in all the different niches provided by the Hawaiian archipelago. The book will therefore be of interest to evolutionary biologists and ecologists as well as professional ornithologists and amateur bird watchers. As with the other books in the Bird Family of the World series, the work is divided into two main sections. Part one is an overview of the Hawaiian Honeycreeper evolution and natural history and Part two comprises accounts of each species. The author has produced his own outstanding illustrations of these birds to accompany his text. This book features:
    *No book like this one on Hawaiian Honeycreepers is available
    *Part of Bird Families of the World series
    *Worldwide interest in these unique birds because of their evolutionary significance
    *New colour illustrations created especially for the book by author
    *Up to date descriptions of the species and their biology

RECOMMENDATION: As with the other titles in the Bird Families of the World series, this one is an excellent book. My major complaint about this series are the prices! These books sell for $225.00 U.S. and higher, so most people can't afford them! The most recent titles in the similar Helm series are about $100.00 U.S.. I don't know why Oxford University Press can't sell their books for $100.00 U.S.?

25 July 2011 UPDATE: I received this email from Murray Lord of Sydney, Australia:

The author of the book would agree with you - this is taken from his website. [And as I also got my copy via the NHBS sale I wonder what portion of the world sales occurred at that time?]:
     "I consider this book the most important thing I have ever done as a scientist. Unfortunately, Oxford's pricing policy, and their stinginess with review copies and advertising, has meant that fewer than 1,000 copies have been sold worldwide, with about a third of those sold by me to friends using my discount! Even libraries are reluctant to cough up the ridiculous king's ransom price, so my magnum opus has become a major disappointment for me. Warning to other authors thinking of publishing with Oxford."

MY RESPONSE:  As I understand it, Oxford will discontinue the Bird Families of the World series after they publish the Titmice volume (in 2012?). Perhaps then they will remainder the series (they remaindered the earlier volumes in 2002) and then people can buy the volumes at an affordable price!

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Forthcoming Titles News

These blog stories are behind the scenes looks of forthcoming books from A & C Black Publishers:

Snapping Scavengers (re: Avian Survivors):

A Sticky Situation (re: Cuckoos of the World):

Seabird Adventures in the South Seas (re: Albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters of the world: a handbook to their taxonomy, identification, ecology and conservation, and Field Guide to the Seabirds of the World):

A Passion For Puffins (re: The Puffin):

Monday, July 18, 2011


1) Duivendijk, Nils Van. Advanced Bird ID Handbook: The Western Palearctic. 2011. New Holland. Paperback: 416 pages. Price: 24.99 GBP (about $40.16 U.S.).

SUMMARY: New Holland's Advanced Bird ID Guide has taken the birding world by storm, being described by leading authorities as 'ground-breaking', 'innovative' and 'brilliant', and scooping the prestigious Birdwatch Magazine Bird Book of the Year Award 2010. The guide accurately describes every key detail of every plumage of all 1,350 species and subspecies that have ever occurred in Britain, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East - the region known as the Western Palearctic. Its level of detail is unprecedented for a book of its size. The book broke the mould for field guides as it contains no colour plates or illustrations, but instead its unique selling point is that for every species the detailed text lists the key characters of each recognizable plumage, including male, female, immature, juvenile, all subspecies and all other variations. This level of detail includes, for example, all eleven forms of 'Canada goose' and all eleven forms of 'yellow wagtail' known in the region. The detailed yet concise nature of the guide means that it has become an instant classic, with many birders, including the reviewer for BirdGuides, buying two copies: one for the field and one for reference to keep at home. The Advanced Bird ID Handbook is intended as a reference companion for the original field guide. It has larger and more widely spaced text, and more than 100 additional pages, making it much more easy to use. In addition it has been fully updated with additions and amendments to the accounts of nearly every species, all recent taxonomic changes and new species in the region taken on board, and more than 20 tables giving side-by-side comparisons of the features of sets of similar species. There is also a full checklist of Western Palearctic species. Again the book will be endorsed by the renowned journal British Birds, which has been running for more than 100 years and which has a dedicated and enthusiastic readership.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for serious birders in the Western Palearctic, even if you own the author's 2010 Guide book!

Sample page from: Advanced Bird ID Guide: The Western Palearctic (2010). The pages in the Handbook are similar but larger and easier to read!

New Titles

1) Forsman, Eric D. et al.. Population Demography of Northern Spotted Owls. 2011. University of California Press (Studies In Avian Biology, 40). Hardbound: 106 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: The Northern Spotted Owl, a threatened species that occurs in coniferous forests in the western United States, has become a well-known environmental symbol. But how is the owl actually faring? This book contains the results of a long-term effort by a large group of leading researchers to document population trends of the Northern Spotted Owl. The study was conducted on 11 areas in the Pacific Northwest from 1985 to 2008, and its objectives were both to evaluate population trends and to assess relationships between reproductive rates and recruitment of owls and covariates such as weather, habitat, and the invasion of a closely related species, the Barred Owl. Among other findings, the study shows that fecundity was declining in five populations, stable in three, and increasing in three areas. Annual apparent survival rates of adults were declining in 10 out of 11 areas. This broad, synthetic work provides the most complete and up-to-date picture of the population status of this inconspicuous forest owl, which is at the center of the complex and often volatile debate regarding the management of forest lands in the western United States.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in Northern Spotted Owls. You can read the Introduction here:

2) Wood, Elizabeth and Michael Aw. Reef Fishes Of South-East Asia (Including Marine Invertebrates and Corals). 2011. New Holland. Paperback: 144 pages. Price: 10.99 GBP (about $17.64 U.S.).

SUMMARY:A new and updated edition of this popular title. Visitors to South-East Asia are astonished at the profusion of marine life that exists in this biodiversity hot-spot. This concise, easy-to-follow field guide to 270 species of fish, corals and marine invertebrates is an essential companion for anyone interested in this fascinating underwater world, from the casual snorkeller to the most experienced diver. It includes stunning colour photographs of each species, as well as concise and informative text and at-a-glance symbols summarising habitat, diet and behaviour. A visual key to fish families at the start of the book aids the quick location and identification of species.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in the marine life of Southeast Asia.

3) Wood, Lawson. Sea Fishes Of The Mediterranean Sea (Including Marine Invertebrates). 2011. New Holland. Paperback: 128 pages. Price:10.99 GBP (about $17.64 U.S.).
SUMMARY:This is a new and updated edition of this popular title. "Sea Fishes and Invertebrates of the Mediterranean" is the first book of its kind and reveals the fascinating wealth of sea life found in this diverse, but little-documented region. This compact and easy-to-follow guidebook, illustrated with many specially-commissioned colour photographs taken in a number of unique and exotic locations, is an essential companion for anyone interested in the marine life of the many seas that make up the Mediterranean Sea. Designed to be of utmost practical use to divers, snorkellers, and underwater photographers, this guide will be welcomed by the increasing number of visitors to the Mediterranean, which has become one of the most popular dive destinations in the world. It covers Gibraltar, Spain, France, Monaco, Corsica, Sardinia, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Greece, Crete, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The Mediterranean includes some of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, such as France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey. It is ideal for divers, snorkellers and underwater photographers at all levels. With the growing focus on marine conservation, this book is designed to attract anyone interested in the natural history of the region's seas and oceans.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in the marine life of the Mediterranean Sea.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New Title

1) Ryan, Christopher and Cacilda Jetha. Sex At Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships. 2011. Harper Perennial. Paperback: 416 pages. Price: $15.99 U.S.

SUMMARY: In this controversial, thought-provoking, and brilliant book, renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá debunk almost everything we “know” about sex, weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality to show how far from human nature monogamy really is. In Sex at Dawn, the authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity.
RECOMMENDATION: What initially interested me in this book was its original subtitle: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. The approach the authors take in discussing the origins of modern human sexuality makes for an interesting read. Everyone with a serious interest in human sexuality, especially women, should read this book!

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Title

1) Webb, Sophie. Far From Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 80 pages. Price: $17.99 U.S.

SUMMARY: In extremely deep waters (two miles deep), the vast sea appears empty. But as naturalist and artist Sophie Webb shows us, it is full of fascinating—yet difficult to study—life. Together with her shipmates, Sophie counts and collects samples of life in the deep ocean, from seabirds to dolphins, from winged fish to whales. Only their long-term field work can really help scientists determine the health of these remarkable creatures who need the clean deep ocean to survive.
RECOMMENDATION: For ages 9-12. If you liked the author's other children's books, you'll like this one!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Title

1) Giblin, David and Donovan Tracy. Alpine Flowers of Mt. Rainier. 2011. University of Washington Herbarium, Burke Museum. 1 double-sided map-like sheet. Price: $8.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: This guide is printed on waterproof, tear resistant paper, folds open to two sides of 20" x 26" showing 90 flowers commonly found above the tree line. It's arranged by color for easy identification and brief descriptions highlight interesting facts with close-up photo inserts that show key features. The guide is available at the gift shops and visitor centers in Mt. Rainier National Park as well as some outlets in the Seattle area including the Burke Museum, Metsker Maps, Seattle Audubon Society and Third Place Books.
RECOMMENDATION: Take it along with you on your next hike into the alpine zone of Mt. Rainier!

New Title

1) Winker, Kevin. On the Origin of Species Through Heteropatric Differentiation: A Review and a Model of Speciation in Migratory Animals. 2010. American Ornithologists' Union (Ornithological Monograph no. 69). Paperback: 30 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Differentiation and speciation without extended isolation appear to be common among migratory animals. Historical oversight of this is probably due to temporal distortion in distribution maps and a tendency to consider that lineages had different historical traits, such as being sedentary or much less mobile. Mobility among cyclic migrants makes population isolation difficult, and diminished levels of intraspecific differentiation occur in avian migrants (the author calls this "Montgomery's rule"). Nevertheless, many lineages have differentiated despite increased mobility and a high propensity for gene flow, conditions that speciation theory has not addressed adequately. Populations of seasonal migrants usually occur in allopatry and sympatry during a migratory cycle, and this distributional pattern (heteropatry) is the focus of a model empirically developed to explain differentiation in migratory lineages. Divergence arises through disruptive selection from resource competition and heterogeneously distributed cyclic resources. Heteropatric speciation is a type of ecological speciation in which reproductive isolation increases between populations as a byproduct of adaptation to different environments that enhances breeding allopatry and allochrony despite degrees of sympatry that occur during the nonbreeding period in migration cycles. Mating or pair bonding in nonbreeding areas is rare. Patterns such as leapfrog migration and limited morphological divergence suggest that differentiation is driven by these ecological factors rather than by sexual selection or nontemporal changes in the resource base itself, although the additional presence of either of the latter would have additive divergent effects. Migratory lineages provide a largely neglected series of natural experiments in speciation in which to test predictions stemming from this model and others focusing on ecological speciation.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in avian speciation.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Title

1) Pilkey, Orrin H. et al.. The World's Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline. 2011. University of California Press. Paperback: 283 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Take this book to the beach; it will open up a whole new world. Illustrated throughout with color photographs, maps, and graphics, it explores one of the planet’s most dynamic environments—from tourist beaches to Arctic beaches strewn with ice chunks to steaming hot tropical shores. The World’s Beaches tells how beaches work, explains why they vary so much, and shows how dramatic changes can occur on them in a matter of hours. It discusses tides, waves, and wind; the patterns of dunes, washover fans, and wrack lines; and the shape of berms, bars, shell lags, cusps, ripples, and blisters. What is the world’s longest beach? Why do some beaches sing when you walk on them? Why do some have dark rings on their surface and tiny holes scattered far and wide? This fascinating, comprehensive guide also considers the future of beaches, and explains how extensively people have affected them—from coastal engineering to pollution, oil spills, and rising sea levels.
RECOMMENDATION: A well-illustrated introduction to the geology and ecology of beaches.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Title

1) Oppenheimer, Clive. Eruptions That Shook The World. 2011. Cambridge University Press. Hardbound: 392 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: What does it take for a volcanic eruption to really shake the world? Did volcanic eruptions extinguish the dinosaurs, or help humans to evolve, only to decimate their populations with a super-eruption 73,000 years ago? Did they contribute to the ebb and flow of ancient empires, the French Revolution and the rise of fascism in Europe in the 19th century? These are some of the claims made for volcanic cataclysm. Volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer explores rich geological, historical, archaeological and palaeoenvironmental records (such as ice cores and tree rings) to tell the stories behind some of the greatest volcanic events of the past quarter of a billion years. He shows how a forensic approach to volcanology reveals the richness and complexity behind cause and effect, and argues that important lessons for future catastrophe risk management can be drawn from understanding events that took place even at the dawn of human origins.
RECOMMENDATION: A thorough and readable account of the effects volcanoes have had on Planet Earth.

New Title

1) Stolzenburg, William. Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World's Greatest Wildlife Rescue. 2011. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 278 pages. Price: $26.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: As we face what scientists are calling "the sixth great extinction" in the history of life on Earth-with the demise of tens of thousands of species every year-William Stolzenburg chronicles the highly controversial mission to rescue endangered island species by killing their predators.
     Rat Island rises from the icy gray waters of the Bering Sea, a mass of volcanic rock covered with tundra, midway between Alaska and Siberia. Once a remote sanctuary for enormous flocks of seabirds, the island gained a new name when shipwrecked rats colonized, savaging the nesting birds by the thousands. Now, on this and hundreds of other remote islands around the world, a massive-and massively controversial-wildlife rescue mission is under way.
     Islands, making up just 3 percent of Earth's landmass, harbor more than half of its endangered species. These fragile ecosystems, home to unique species that evolved in peaceful isolation, have been catastrophically disrupted by mainland predators-rats, cats, goats, and pigs ferried by humans to islands around the globe. To save these endangered islanders, academic ecologists have teamed up with professional hunters and semiretired poachers in a radical act of conservation now bent on annihilating the invaders. Sharpshooters are sniping at goat herds from helicopters. Biological SWAT teams are blanketing mountainous isles with rat poison. Rat Island reveals a little-known and much-debated side of today's conservation movement, founded on a cruel-to-be-kind philosophy.
     Touring exotic locales with a ragtag group of environmental fighters, William Stolzenburg delivers both perilous adventure and intimate portraits of human, beast, hero, and villain. And amid manifold threats to life on Earth, he reveals a new reason to hope
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting read for those with an interest in wildlife conservation, especially of island species. Here's a link to an interview with the author from LiveScience:

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Title

1) Unwin, Mike. The Atlas of Birds: Mapping Avian Diversity, Behavior and Habitats Worldwide. 2011. A&C Black/Princeton University Press. Paperback: 144 pages. Price: GBP 16.99/ $22.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The Atlas of Birds captures the breathtaking diversity of birds, and illuminates their conservation status around the world. Full-color maps show where birds are found, both by country and terrain, and reveal how an astounding variety of behavioral adaptations--from flight and feeding to nest building and song--have enabled them to thrive in virtually every habitat on Earth. Maps of individual journeys and global flyways chart the amazing phenomenon of bird migration, while bird classification is explained using maps for each order and many key families.
     Conservation provides a strong focus throughout, with maps illustrating where and why birds are most under threat, and what is being done to protect them. Separate sections examine key factors influencing their distribution and endangering their survival, from deforestation and climate change to invasive species and the cage-bird trade. Bird groups most affected, such as island endemics, are highlighted, while a fascinating chapter explores the complex historical relationship between birds and humans, with maps and data for everything from poultry farming to birdwatching.
     The maps are supported by an authoritative text that uses the very latest data and case studies from BirdLife International. Packed with sumptuous photos, original diagrams, and imaginative graphics that bring the numbers to life, this book is a stunning and timely insight into perhaps the most colorful and intriguing group of organisms on our planet. This book features:

*The premier illustrated atlas of bird diversity, behavior, and conservation
*Features full-color maps, photos, and diagrams
*Covers bird evolution, classification, and behavior
*Describes the complex relationship between birds and their habitats
*Explores the impact of human activities on species survival
*Illustrates where and why birds are most under threat--and how to protect them

RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction to bird biology and conservation.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


1) Gillespie, Rosemary G. and David A. Clague (editors). Encyclopedia of Islands. 2009. University of California Press. Hardbound: 1074 pages. Price: $95.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Islands have captured the imagination of scientists and the public for centuries—unique and rare environments, their isolation makes them natural laboratories for ecology and evolution. This authoritative, alphabetically arranged reference, featuring more than 200 succinct articles by leading scientists from around the world, provides broad coverage of all the island sciences. But what exactly is an island? The volume editors define it here as any discrete habitat isolated from other habitats by inhospitable surroundings. The Encyclopedia of Islands examines many such insular settings—oceanic and continental islands as well as places such as caves, mountaintops, and whale falls at the bottom of the ocean. This essential, one-stop resource, extensively illustrated with color photographs, clear maps, and graphics will introduce island science to a wide audience and spur further research on some of the planet's most fascinating habitats.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in islands! You can read a sample chapter here:

2) Powell, Jerry A. and Paul A. Opler. Moths of Western North America. 2009. University of California Press. Hardbound: 369 pages. Price: $95.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Insects boast incredible diversity, and this book treats an important component of the western insect biota that has not been summarized before—moths and their plant relationships. There are about 8,000 named species of moths in our region, and although most are unnoticed by the public, many attract attention when their larvae create economic damage: eating holes in woolens, infesting stored foods, boring into apples, damaging crops and garden plants, or defoliating forests. In contrast to previous North American moth books, this volume discusses and illustrates about 25% of the species in every family, including the tiny species, making this the most comprehensive volume in its field. With this approach it provides access to microlepidoptera study for biologists as well as amateur collectors. About 2,500 species are described and illustrated, including virtually all moths of economic importance, summarizing their morphology, taxonomy, adult behavior, larval biology, and life cycles.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the Lepidoptera of Western North America. You can read a sample chapter here:

Friday, July 8, 2011

New Title

   Binocular Vision: The Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides (Critical Perspectives in the History of Environmental Design)                                                                           
1) Schaffner, Spencer. Binocular Vision: The Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides. 2011. University of Massachusetts Press. Paperback: 201 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: From meadows to marshlands, seashores to suburbs, field guides help us identify many of the things we find outdoors: plants, insects, mammals, birds. In these texts, nature is typically represented, both in words and images, as ordered, clean, and untouched by human technology and development. This preoccupation with species identification, however, has produced an increasingly narrow view of nature, a “binocular vision,” that separates the study of individual elements from a range of larger, interconnected environmental issues. In this book, Spencer Schaffner reconsiders this approach to nature study by focusing on how birds are presented in field guides.
     Starting with popular books from the late nineteenth century and moving ultimately to the electronic guides of the current day, Binocular Vision contextualizes birdwatching field guides historically, culturally, and in terms of a wide range of important environmental issues. Schaffner questions the assumptions found in field guides to tease out their ideological workings. He argues that the sanitized world represented in these guides misleads readers by omitting industrial landscapes and so-called nuisance birds, leaving users of the guides disconnected from environmental degradation and its impact on bird populations.
    By putting field guides into direct conversation with concerns about species conservation, environmental management, the human alteration of the environment, and the problem of toxic pollution, Binocular Vision is a field guide to field guides that takes a novel perspective on how we think about and interact with the world around us.
RECOMMENDATION: In this book the author argues that field guides about birds separate birds from their surrounding landscapes (especially human-made ones) and pressing social debates. It's an interesting point-of-view that should be read by everyone involved in the publication of bird field guides!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


1) Garcia-del-Rey, Eduardo. Field Guide to the Birds of Macaronesia. 2011. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 341 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: This Field Guide describes and illustrates all the species and subspecies of birds in Macaronesia (the Azores, Madeira, the Savage Islands, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde). Special features include detailed distribution maps, species status for each archipelago and the official list of the birds of Macaronesia compiled by the S.O.C. (Canary Islands Ornithological Society).

*Includes the Atlantic islands of Macaronesia, a region which covers the archipelagos of the Azores, Madeira, the Savage Islands, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.
*Describes 573 species and subspecies, covering all resident, nesting, migrating and vagrant birds.
*More than 230 detailed distribution maps.
*150 colour plates.
*Updated to December 2010.

There is a Spanish version.

IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: When compared to Birds of the Atlantic Islands by Tony Clarke (Helm Field Guides) this book is smaller, hardbound, with range maps and has the text and range maps opposite the color plates. This format makes this book more useful in the field than the Helm Field Guide. The book is available from NHBS in the U.K. here:
and from Buteo Books in the U.S.A. here:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Title

1) van Perlo, Ber. Birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific. 2011. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 256 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: This is the only comprehensive and handy pocket guide that illustrates and describes the bird species of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific. Featuring more than 750 species illustrated in vivid and stunning detail on 95 color plates, this authoritative guide provides information on key identification features, habitat, songs, and calls. Birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific is a must-have for birders of all levels interested in this region of the world.
     The only guide to illustrate the birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific. It includes the following:

*Depictions of all plumages for males, females, and juveniles
*Detailed distribution maps show where each species is commonly found
*Information on key identification features, habitat, songs, and calls
*In-depth look at flight signatures, vagrant populations, and much more
*Concise and highly portable

IAN'S 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. (Published in 1987 -- but I understand a second edition is in the works!). For New Zealand, I recommend: Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand by Hugh Robertson, Barrie Heather and Derek J. Onley. I also find: Hawaii's Birds, Sixth edition ( Hawaii Audubon Society) useful. It's available from Buteo Books here:

 and from H.A.S. here (scroll down a ways):

New Title

1) Kear, Benjamin P. and Robert J. Hamilton-Bruce. Dinosaurs In Australia: Mesozoic Life from the Southern Continent. 2011. CSIRO Publishing. Paperback: 190 pages. Price: $79.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Over the last few decades our understanding of what Australia was like during the Mesozoic Era has changed radically. A rush of new fossil discoveries, together with cutting-edge analytical techniques, has created a much more detailed picture of ancient life and environments from the great southern continent. Giant dinosaurs, bizarre sea monsters and some of the earliest ancestors of Australia’s unique modern animals and plants all occur in rocks of Mesozoic age. Ancient geographical positioning of Australia close to the southern polar circle and mounting geological evidence for near freezing temperatures also make it one of the most unusual and globally significant sources of fossils from the age of dinosaurs.
     This new book provides the first comprehensive overview of current research on Australian Mesozoic faunas and floras, with a balanced coverage of the many technical papers, conference abstracts and unpublished material housed in current collections. It is a primary reference for researchers in the fields of palaeontology, geology and biology, senior undergraduate and postgraduate students, secondary level teachers, as well as fossil collectors and anyone interested in natural history.
     Dinosaurs in Australia is fully illustrated in colour with original artworks and 12 reconstructions of key animals. It has a foreword by Tim Flannery and is the ideal book for anybody seeking to know more about Australia’s amazing age of dinosaurs.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated semi-technical overview of the Mesozoic life (NOT just dinosaurs!) of Australia.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Audio CD

1) Lysinger, Mitch, John V. Moore, and Niels Krabbe. The Birds of Cabanas San Isidro (Ecuador). 2010. John V. Moore Nature Recordings. MP-3 CD and booklet. Price: $14.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: This publication consists of a single data CD containing all vocalizations in MP3 format as well as detailed recording data in both WORD and EXCEL files, and is a revised and updated edition of the 2 cassette publication “The Birds of Cabañas San Isidro” originally published in 1997 and updated with minor modifications in 2000.
     They present 594 separate recordings of 207 species including 53 species and 272 vocalizations not included in the cassette publication. Presented are the sounds of most of the bird species that inhabit the Cabañas San Isidro property, as well as the surrounding area comprising the Rio Cosanga Valley up to and including the Cordillera de Guacamayos Ridge to the southeast. Cabañas San Isidro is a charming tourist lodge nestled in the picturesque Quijos valley near the small town of Cosanga, 100 kilometers east of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. The lodge itself is located at an altitude of approximately 6800 feet (2073m). However, the trails leading from the lodge cover elevations from approximately 6000 to almost 7600 feet (1829-2316m). Habitats range from primary montane forest, secondary woodland, riverine edge, and Chusquea (Bamboo) stands, to cleared pasture. The avifauna at San Isidro contains elements of both the Subtropical zone (throughout most of the area) and the lower Temperate zone (on the upper slopes).
     Although this publication contains vocalizations from many of the species already presented in the 6 digital publications featuring Ecuador birds by John V. Moore Nature Recordings, 22 of the species, 29 of the subspecies and several of the vocal types presented in this data CD have not been featured in our previous publications.
RECOMMENDATION: The species names are announced. Birders visiting the region should find these recordings useful.