Thursday, December 19, 2013

Best Bird Books of 2013

Best Bird Books of 2013
The following are my picks for the best bird books of 2013:

BEST BOOK:
             
                                                           
1) Stephenson, Tom and Scott Whittle. The Warbler Guide. 2013. Princeton University Press. Flexicover: 560 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Warblers are among the most challenging birds to identify. They exhibit an array of seasonal plumages and have distinctive yet oft-confused calls and songs. The Warbler Guide enables you to quickly identify any of the 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada. This groundbreaking guide features more than 1,000 stunning color photos, extensive species accounts with multiple viewing angles, and an entirely new system of vocalization analysis that helps you effectively learn songs and calls.
The Warbler Guide revolutionizes birdwatching, making warbler identification easier than ever before. For more information, please see the author videos on the Princeton University Press website.
This guide includes:
  • Covers all 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada
  • Visual quick finders help you identify warblers from any angle
  • Song and call finders make identification easy using a few simple questions
  • Uses sonograms to teach a new system of song identification that makes it easier to understand and hear differences between similar species
  • Detailed species accounts show multiple views with diagnostic points, direct comparisons of plumage and vocalizations with similar species, and complete aging and sexing descriptions
  • New aids to identification include song mnemonics and icons for undertail pattern, color impression, habitat, and behavior
  • Includes field exercises, flight shots, general identification strategies, and quizzes
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for birders with an interest in these birds!



HONORABLE MENTIONS:
 
                                 


1) Cocker, Mark and David Tipling. Birds and People. 2013. Jonathan Cape. Hardbound: 592 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The definitive groundbreaking book on the relationship between birds and humankind, with contributions from more than 600 bird enthusiasts from all over the world Part natural history and part cultural study, this book describes and maps the entire spectrum of human engagements with birds, drawing in themes of history, literature, art, cuisine, language, lore, politics, and the environment. Vast in both scope and scale, it draws upon Mark Cocker's 40 years of observing and thinking about birds to celebrate this relationship. The book is as important for its visual riches as it is for its groundbreaking content, as one of Europe's best wildlife photographers has traveled in 39 countries on seven continents to produce a breathtaking and unique collection of photographs. The author solicited contributions from people worldwide, and personal anecdotes and stories have come from more than 600 individuals of 81 different nationalities, ranging from university academics to Mongolian eagle hunters, and from Amerindian shamans to highly celebrated writers. The sheer multitude of voices in this global chorus means that it is both a source book on why we cherish birds and a powerful testament to their importance for all humanity. Endorsed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Birdlife International.
RECOMMENDATION: This book would make a nice gift for any birder! 
 





2) Behrens, Ken, and Cameron Cox. Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 602 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Seawatching is the challenging act of identifying waterbirds in flight. Since more than one hundred different species can fly past an observation point, often at great speed or in tightly packed, mixed-species flocks, identification of these distant shapes can be a mystery. The keys to the mystery—the subtle traits that unlock the identity of flying waterbirds, be it wingbeat cadence, individual structure, flock shape and behavior, or subtle flashes of color—are revealed in this guide.
      Though commonly called seawatching, this on-the-fly observation and identification method is by no means restricted to the coast. There are impressive waterbird migrations on the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, and many inland lakes and rivers. Nor is it restricted to migrating waterfowl, as the principles of flight identification apply as effectively to ducks flushed off a pond as to distant migrating flocks. Like Hawks in Flight and The Shorebird Guide, the Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching breaks new ground, provides cutting-edge techniques, and pushes the envelope in bird identification even further.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for birders in eastern North America!




3) Forshaw, Joseph M. and Mark Shephard. Grassfinches In Australia. 2012. CSIRO Publishing. Hardbound: 318 pages. Price: $194.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: It is not surprising that Australian grassfinches are highly popular with ornithologists and aviculturists, for included among the species are one of the most beautiful of all birds – the Gouldian Finch Erythrura gouldiae – and one of the most familiar cagebirds – the Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata.
     Despite a scarcity in published works on finches, interest in the species is growing, leading to a dramatic advancement in our knowledge of many species. For example, we have gained new information from field observations carried out on little-known species, including the Blue-faced Parrot-Finch Erythrura trichroa and the Red-eared Firetail Stagonopleura oculata. Significant advances in taxonomic research, largely as a consequence of the development and refinement of biochemical analyses, often involving DNA-DNA hybridisation, have given us a new insight into relationships among species, with some unexpected alliances being determined. Additionally, dramatic changes have taken place in avicultural practices, and in virtually all countries aviculture has taken on a new professional approach, with the most notable results being increased productivity and success with a wider variety of species.
     After a lapse of almost half a century since publication of Klaus Immelmann’s eminent work on finches, based on extensive field studies, the time has come for a new examination of Australian grassfinches. In Grassfinches in Australia, Joseph Forshaw, Mark Shephard and Anthony Pridham have summarised our present knowledge of each species, and have given readers a visual appreciation of the birds in their natural habitats and in aviculture. The resulting combination of superb artwork and scientifically accurate text ensures that this volume will become the standard reference work on Australian grassfinches. In addition to enabling aviculturists to know more about these finches in the wild as a guide to their own husbandry techniques, detailed information on current management practices for all species in captivity is provided. The book also includes colour plates depicting some of the more common mutations held in Australian and overseas collections.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with an interest in these finches and/or collectors of bird art.






4) Poonswad, Pilai, Alan Kemp, and Morten Strange. Hornbills of the World: A Photographic Guide. 2013. Draco Publishing and Hornbill Research Foundation. Paperback: 212 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S./ £44.99.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Hornbills (order: Bucerotiformes) are a group of distinctive and charismatic birds found only in Tropical Asia and sub-saharan Africa. There are two families (Bucorvidae and Bucerotidae), 15 genera, 57 species and 75 subspecies; 32 species are in Asia and 25 species in Africa. They are mostly large in size and have long bills surmounted in many species by a conspicuous casque. Hornbills are omnivorous, but each species feeds predominately on fruits or small animals. Many hornbills are important seed dispersers and benefit the forest ecology. During the breeding season, the female enters a nesting cavity, usually in a large hardwood tree. she seals herself inside the cavity in the majority of species and stays there for much of the nesting cycle while the male brings food to her and her young. Most hornbill species are forest birds, dependant on large expanses of primary tropical rainforest for habitat, while some inhabit drier savanna, but all are vulnerable to disturbance and habitat loss.
      Hornbills of the World is the first authoritative photographic guide to the order. All species are described and illustrated in multiple photographs showing both male and female, and distinct subspecies. There is additional information on:
- Evolution, Distribution and Relationships
- General Habits
- Feeding Ecology
- Breeding Ecology
- Social Life
- Threats and Conservation

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in these birds! This title is available in North Amerca from Buteo Books:


and in the United Kingdom from nhbs.com:

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