Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Title

1) Finlayson, Clive. Avian Survivors: The History and Biogeography of Palearctic Birds. 2011. T & A D Poyser. Hardbound: 304 pages. Price: GBP 50.00 (about $78.04 U.S.).

SUMMARY: Using a fresh approach that classifies birds according to their bioclimatic characteristics, Clive Finlayson views the history and distribution of Palearctic birds from a radical new angle.
     History and chance events play a central role in a story that has its origins before the asteroid impact that finished off the dinosaurs. In this book, Finlayson shows that the avifauna of the Palearctic long predates the glaciations of the last two million years, and had established itself gradually during the turbulent times of the Miocene and Pliocene, the lifting of Tibet and the drying of the continents having a major influence on these birds.
     Those that made it to the start of the glaciations were equipped to deal with whatever the climate could throw at them. They were the avian survivors, and they are still here with us today.
      Packed with figures and with a rich colour section, Avian Survivors tells the definitive story of the birds of the Palearctic, across space and time.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in Palearctic avian biogeography and/or paleontology.

Field Guide Article

Laura Erickson wrote about the history of the North American field guide at her blog here:

For those interested in learning more about the history of the bird guide you might want this book when it comes out:

In the Field, Among the Feathered: A History of Birders and Their Guides by Thomas R. Dunlap. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S. DUE out in November/December 2011.


Clips from "The Big Year" movie

Here are clips from the "The Big Year" movie:

"Anacortes, WA" scene:

Texas Fallout scene:

From the beginning of the movie:

Note John Cleese doing his David Attenborough imitation. Can you catch the three North American birding mistakes at the 0:29 mark in the second video? Hint: two are written and the other is the illustration.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Title

1) Sobel, Dava. A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos. 2011. Walker. Hardbound: 273 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: By 1514, the reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus had written and hand-copied an initial outline of his heliocentric theory—in which he defied common sense and received wisdom to place the sun, not the earth, at the center of our universe, and set the earth spinning among the other planets. Over the next two decades, Copernicus expanded his theory through hundreds of observations, while compiling in secret a book-length manuscript that tantalized mathematicians and scientists throughout Europe. For fear of ridicule, he refused to publish.
     In 1539, a young German mathematician, Georg Joachim Rheticus, drawn by rumors of a revolution to rival the religious upheaval of Martin Luther's Reformation, traveled to Poland to seek out Copernicus. Two years later, the Protestant youth took leave of his aging Catholic mentor and arranged to have Copernicus's manuscript published, in 1543, as De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres)—the book that forever changed humankind's place in the universe.
     In her elegant, compelling style, Dava Sobel chronicles, as nobody has, the conflicting personalities and extraordinary discoveries that shaped the Copernican Revolution. At the heart of the book is her play And the Sun Stood Still, imagining Rheticus's struggle to convince Copernicus to let his manuscript see the light of day. As she achieved with her bestsellers Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Sobel expands the bounds of narration, giving us an unforgettable portrait of scientific achievement, and of the ever-present tensions between science and faith.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the history of astronomy or science.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Titles from Harper Collins UK


1) Svensson, Lars et al.. Collins Bird Guide: Large Format Second Edition. 2011. Collins. Hardbound: 443 pages. Price: GBP 50.00 (about $77.81 U.S.).
SUMMARY: Following on from its hugely successful launch in 1999, Collins Bird Guide – the ultimate reference book for bird enthusiasts – now enters its second edition.
     With expanded text and additional colour illustrations, the second edition of the hugely successful Collins Bird Guide is a must for every birdwatcher.
      The book provides all the information needed to identify any species at any time of the year, covering size, habitat, range, identification and voice. Accompanying every species entry is a distribution map and illustrations showing the species in all the major plumages (male, female, immature, in flight, at rest, feeding: whatever is important).
     In addition, each group of birds includes an introduction which covers the major problems involved in identifying or observing them: how to organise a sea watching trip, how to separate birds of prey in flight, which duck hybrids can be confused with which main species. These and many other common birdwatching questions are answered.
      The combination of definitive text, up-to-date distribution maps and superb illustrations, all in a single volume, makes this book the ultimate field guide, essential on every bookshelf and birdwatching trip.
RECOMMENDATION: This Large Format edition of THE European bird guide will be useful for those with bad eyesight or those with an interest in field guide art!

New and Recent Titles:

1) Arlott, Norman. Collins Field Guides: Birds of North America. 2011. Collins. Hardbound: 239 pages. Price: GBP 29.99 (about $46.67 U.S.).
SUMMARY: A comprehensive illustrated field guide to the birds of North America, ideal for the travelling birdwatcher.
     Covering most of North America, including Canada and Greenland, the latest Collins Field Guide focuses on the rich and diverse birdlife of what is known as the Nearctic region. Every species found in the area is illustrated in every plumage in which they can be seen in the wild. The accompanying text concentrates on the specific characteristics and appearance of each species that allow identification in the field, including voice and distribution maps.
RECOMMENDATION: This one is a tough call for me! In the end I can recommend this book only for ecotourist or general naturalists. Birders will want to use another guide. The Princeton University Press version will be available on 10 October 2011.

2) Fitter, Julian and Don Merton. Collins Traveller's Guide: Birds of New Zealand. 2011. Collins. Paperback: 288 pages. Price: GBP 16.99 (about $26.44 U.S.).
SUMMARY: An easy-to-use, compact photo guide to the birds of New Zealand, including tips on where to go to make the most of your visit.
     New Zealand has long been known as 'The Land of Birds', and as a popular holiday destination it is regularly visited by tourists from around the world. The country’s birdlife is remarkably rich, with much of it not just endemic, but unlike anything elsewhere.
     This beautiful photographic guide is the ideal companion for travelling birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Featuring over 300 species of bird most likely to be encountered on a trip to New Zealand, it is the only guide that anyone travelling to this fascinating region of the world will need. Each bird is illustrated with a full-colour photograph along with a full species description, and key information on national parks helps readers to find the best spots to discover each bird.
      The book not only helps travellers to identify birds, it also highlights the importance of conservation efforts and offers guidelines on sensible behaviour whilst travelling through the area and encountering nature at its very best.
RECOMMENDATION: Probably the best photographic guide to the birds of New Zealand currently available. Princeton University Press will be co-publishing this title in January 2012 as: "A Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand " for $24.95 U.S..

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                                  Photo: Joe Fuhrman
My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Black-tailed Gull in Tacoma, Washington State, USA

                                       Photo: Kevin Aanerud 23 Sept. 2011. Tacoma, WA
     This morning I made a quick trip to Tacoma, WA to see the megararity (ABA Area Code 4) adult Black-tailed Gull that's been spending the past week or so at Commencement Bay off of Marine View Drive. Victoria Irwin and I took the 8:45 a.m. ferry into Seattle. Once in Seattle we meet up with her sister Jill and drove down to Tacoma. Upon arriving at the spot where the gull has been seen from, we spotted Kevin Aanerud and he had the bird in his scope. The bird was sleeping on a log boom with California Gulls and Black Turnstones. We watched it for a while so we could get all the field marks: mantle color darker than California Gull, pale eye (vs dark eye in CA Gull), yellow legs, bill with a red tip and of course the black tail. It was still there when we left. It was a lifer for all of us and the 5th Washington State record!
         Photo: Brian Pendleton  21 Sept. 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Title

1) Olsen, Penny and Leo Joseph. Stray Feathers: Reflections on the Structure, Behaviour and Evolution of Birds. 2011. CSIRO Publishing. Paperback: 286 pages. Price: $66.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Stray Feathers showcases some of the remarkable adaptations of Australian birds. A brief introduction describes how evolution shapes form and function, followed by a series of vignettes illustrating the wondrous variety of forms and functions shaped by evolution. For example, did you know that Barn Owls can hunt in absolute darkness and that cuckoos commence incubation before their egg is laid?
     Sections include anatomy and physiology; the senses; giving voice; tongues talking; plumage; getting around; finding and handling food; optimising foraging and feeding; reducing competition; using ‘tools’; communicating; quality vs quantity; courtship; nests; parental care; chicks; and living together.
     The book is superbly illustrated with black and white drawings of a range of birds, making it a worthy addition to the bookshelves of bird lovers everywhere.
RECOMMENDATION: If you have an interest in the natural history of Australian birds, you'll want this book.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Title


1) Dawkins, Richard. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True. 2011. Free Press. Hardbound: 271 pages. Price: $29.99 U.S.

SUMMARY: Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods' bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back—earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality—science.
    Packed with clever thought experiments, dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, graphic detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well.
     Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous evolutionary biologist and one of science education's most passionate advocates, has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. But now, in a dramatic departure, he has teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean and used his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all ages. This is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever wondered how the world works. Dawkins and McKean have created an illustrated guide to the secrets of our world—and the universe beyond—that will entertain and inform for years to come.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for science educators and for anyone that's curious about how the world really works! The APP for this book can be found here (you need to scroll down a ways):

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Title

1) Chandler, David. Barn Owl. 2011. Firefly Books. Hardbound: 128 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Given their largely nocturnal existence, few of us are lucky enough to glimpse a barn owl. But with the advent of minicams in backyard nesting boxes, birdwatchers can enjoy real-time online viewing of barn owls. Not surprisingly, interest in barn owls and wild birds in general is increasing.
     Barn Owl reveals these remarkable creatures in detail. Rarely seen images -- including stunning photographs of nesting owls and their owlet chicks -- accompany the authoritative text, which describes:

*The survival of barn owls
*Their biology and behavior
*Courtship and reproduction
*Life cycle
*How and what they hunt
*Social interaction

     The ghostly barn owl is further brought to life through personal anecdotes from the author and photographer, which are woven into the text. A list of resources directs readers to additional information on the elusive barn owl.
      The barn owl is a powerful predator with a critical role in rodent control, and it is in dire danger from rodent poisons, lack of nesting sites and human encroachment. Barn Owl renders an informative and timely portrait of this endangered bird.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone interested in the Barn Owl!

Monday, September 19, 2011



1) Skerrett, Adrian and Tony Disley. Birds of Seychelles. 2011. Helm Field Guides. Paperback: 176 pages. Price: GBP 24.99 (about $39.16 U.S.).

SUMMARY: This compact field guide, based on Birds of Seychelles by Adrian Skerrett, Ian Bullock and Tony Disley (Helm 2000), is the only field guide to cover every species recorded in Seychelles. It covers more than 250 species, including all residents, migrants and vagrants. Concise text on facing pages highlights key identification features, including habitat, distribution, status and voice. The plates are based on the authors' previous work, but with the addition on many new images.
     The text has been completely re-written and revised for this edition, and the plates are been re-worked to accommodate a number of new additions to the country's list. There are now 12 more plates than in the first edition.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding the Seychelles!

New Title

1) Roach, Mary(editor). The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011. 2011. Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 361 pages. Price: $14.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Edited by outrageously curious science writer Mary Roach, author of Stiff, Spook, Bonk, and Packing for Mars, this collection brings together the best and brightest writers on science and nature.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoy science and nature writing, you'll enjoy this book! I liked the essays by Jonathan Franzen "Emptying the Skies", Jon Mooallem "The Love That Dare Not Squawk Its Name" and the poignant essay by Jill Sisson Quinn titled: "Sign Here If You Exist."

Friday, September 16, 2011


Here are sample pages of the forthcoming (in North America) of Norman Arlott's Birds of North America (due out on 10 October 2011):

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Titles

1) Hodder, Ian. The Leopard's Tale: Revealing the Mysteries of Catalhoyuk. 2011. Thames & Hudson. Paperback: 288 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: The Neolithic mound of Çatalhöyük, in central Turkey, shot to international fame in the 1960s when an ancient ‘town’ – at 9,000 years old one of the earliest in the world – was discovered there together with wonderful wall-paintings and sculptures, many featuring images of leopards.
     The excavations changed our understanding of the early farmers who started the road to complex civilization, but many questions were left unanswered until leading archaeologist Ian Hodder began a new campaign of research in the early 1990s. Çatalhöyük: The Leopard’s Tale is the inside story of the remarkable advances made so far.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interested in Middle Eastern archaeology!

2) Mauries, Patrick. Cabinet of Curiosities. 2011. Thames and Hudson. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Unicorns’ horns, mermaids’ skeletons, minerals of breath-taking beauty, fossils, preserved animals and plants, sea-shells, monstrous births, insects in amber, wax effigies, death-masks, ivory carvings of incredible virtuosity, automata that imitated living things, clocks, musical instruments, lenses, celestial globes … all knowledge, the whole cosmos arranged …
     This book traces their amazing history, from their first appearance in the inventories and engravings commissioned by Renaissance nobles such as the Medici or the Hapsburgs, via those of the Dane Ole Wurm and the Italian polymath Athanasius Kircher, to the serious 17th- and 18th-century scientists Elias Ashmole and Levinas Vincent.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting look at the forerunners of today's natural history museums.

3) Norton, Mary. The Complete Adventures of the Borrowers: Three little people and their not-so-little adventures. 2011. Sandpiper/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 5 paperbacks in slipcase. Price: $34.99 U.S.
SUMMARY: Mary Norton’s beloved, best-selling books about the tiny, stouthearted Borrowers are now available together in one gorgeous package, perfect for gift giving. Put this boxed set into the hands of little people—or of any reader who delights in classic adventure. Includes paperback editions of The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft, and The Borrowers Avenged.
RECOMMENDATION: For Ages 8+. A must have for those that collect children's books or want children they know to enjoy these books!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Title

1) Weishampel, David B. and Coralia-Maria Jianu. Transylvanian Dinosaurs. 2011. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 301 pages. Price: $60.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: At the end of the time of the dinosaurs, Transylvania was an island in what was to become southeastern Europe. The island's limited resources affected the size and life histories of its animals, resulting in a local dwarfism. For example, sauropods found on the island measured only six meters long, while their cousins elsewhere grew up to five times larger. Here, David B. Weishampel and Coralia-Maria Jianu present unique evolutionary interpretations of this phenomenon.
     The authors bring together the latest information on the fauna, flora, geology, and paleogeography of the region, casting these ancient reptiles in their phylogenetic, paleoecological, and evolutionary contexts. What the authors find is that Transylvanian dinosaurs experienced a range of unpredictable successes as they evolved.
     Woven throughout the detailed history and science of these diminutive dinosaurs is the fascinating story of the man who first discovered them, the mysterious twentieth-century paleontologist Franz Baron Nopcsa, whose name is synonymous with Transylvanian dinosaurs. Hailed by some as the father of paleobiology, it was Nopcsa alone who understood the importance of the dinosaur discoveries in Transylvania; their story cannot be told without recounting his.
     Transylvanian Dinosaurs strikes an engaging balance between biography and scientific treatise and is sure to capture the imagination of professional paleontologists and amateur dinophiles alike.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical and semi-technical interest in the dinosaurs of Europe. This book also contains a chapter on other tetrapods.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


1) Selznick, Brian. Wonderstruck. 2011. Scholastic Press. Hardbound: 640 pages. Price: $29.99 U.S.

SUMMARY:This book tells the stories of two children, one story is in words, the other is told by drawings. Ben's story takes place in 1977. Rose's story takes place in 1927. Ever since his mother died, Ben feels lost. At home with her father, Rose feels alone. When Ben finds a mysterious clue hidden in his mother's room, and when a tempting opportunity presents itself to Rose, both children risk everything to find what's missing.
RECOMMENDATION: Think of this book as a hybrid between a regular book and a graphic novel. For ages 8 and up.

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Title

1) Lindo, David. The Urban Birder. 2011. New Holland. Hardbound: 224 pages. Price: GBP 9.99 (about $15.87 U.S.).

SUMMARY: Anyone can become an Urban Birder. You can do it anywhere and any time, whether you've got the day to spare, on your way to work, during your lunch break or just looking out of a window. Look up and you will see. The book is an inspirational look at the birdlife in our cities, or more accurately, the author's personal journey of discovery (mainly in and around London, England) involving encounters with racism, air rifle-toting youths, girls, alcohol, music, finding urban wildlife oases and of course, birds. His story is entertaining and sometimes controversial, but the one guarantee is that the reader will be left feeling inspired enough to pick up a pair of binoculars and head to the nearest park.
    The self-styled 'Urban Birder', David Lindo is a one-man ornithological phenomenon who has a regular slot on BBC1's The One Show and a column in every issue of BBC Wildlife, Bird Watching and the RSPB's Birds magazines, the latter of which has a readership of more than 1 million people, not to mention a flourishing website and blog. The author's blog is here:
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting read on an often overlooked part of birding.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Paperback

1) Franzen, Jonathan. Freedom: A Novel. 2011. Picador. Paperback: 597 pages. Price: $16.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Walter and Patty Berglund as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.
RECOMMENDATION: Birders might like one of the subplots that centers around the Cerulean Warbler.

New Title

1) Dunne, Pete. Arctic Autumn: A Journey to Season's Edge. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 258 pages. Price: $24.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: A season of transition in North America’s last great wilderness.
     From Nunavut and the Barren Lands of Canada to the westernmost edge of Alaska and back to Churchill, Manitoba, Pete Dunne’s experiences in the Arctic comprise wilderness, laughter, and contemplation. Whether hunting caribou, examining the balance between the needs of molting geese and society’s thirst for oil, or observing majestic but threatened polar bears, Dunne insightfully considers his own life, our interactions with the natural world, and the importance of the Arctic, the planet’s last frontier.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's other "seasonal" books, you'll enjoy this one.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Big Year movie trailer

Here's the link to the trailer:

Can anyone ID the bird at the 1:11 mark in the trailer?

I came across this poster for the movie: The Big Year

Friday, September 2, 2011


1) Naples, Virginia L., Larry D. Martin, and John P. Babiarz (editors). The Other Saber-tooths: Scimitar-Tooth Cats of the Western Hemisphere. 2011. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 236 pages. Price: $110.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Like the better-known Smilodon, or saber-tooth cat, the scimitar-tooth cats of the New World were fierce predators that killed and consumed the largest of North America's species. This volume synthesizes all currently known information about the scimitar-tooths.
     Scimitar-tooth cats had serrated teeth that were shorter and stouter than those of Smilodon. Using a mix of new research and previously published accounts, the contributors examine all aspects of the natural history of these extinct cats. They reconstruct what scimitar-tooth cats might have looked like, discuss how they captured and killed prey, and describe their worldwide distribution and how they interacted with other, non-prey animals. Highly detailed descriptions reveal the biology of these cats, provide bone-by-bone comparisons of them to Smilodon and other cat-like carnivores, explain how they originated, and set them in an evolutionary context.
     Richly illustrated and featuring the latest information on scimitar-tooth cats of the New World, The Other Saber-tooths is an engaging and comprehensive collection of information about these fascinating felines that will appeal to paleontologists and anyone else interested in the prehistoric world.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a semi-technical or technical interest in paleofelids!