Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
SUMMARY: The pigeon is the quintessential city bird. Domesticated thousands of years ago as a messenger and a source of food, its presence on our sidewalks is so common that people consider the bird a nuisance—if they notice it at all. Yet pigeons are also kept for pleasure, sport, and profit by people all over the world, from the “pigeon wars” waged by breeding enthusiasts in the skies over Brooklyn to the Million Dollar Pigeon Race held every year in South Africa.
Drawing on more than three years of fieldwork across three continents, Colin Jerolmack traces our complex and often contradictory relationship with these versatile animals in public spaces such as Venice’s Piazza San Marco and London’s Trafalgar Square and in working-class and immigrant communities of pigeon breeders in New York and Berlin. By exploring what he calls “the social experience of animals,” Jerolmack shows how our interactions with pigeons offer surprising insights into city life, community, culture, and politics. Theoretically understated and accessible to interested readers of all stripes, The Global Pigeon is one of the best and most original ethnographies to be published in decades.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting look at how Humans interact with the domestic Rock Pigeon.
SUMMARY: When Ceri Levy asked Ralph Steadman to produce one piece of art representing an extinct bird for a recent exhibition, Ghosts of Gone Birds, Ralph said 'yes'. Then 'yes' again ... and again ... and again.
An astonishing 100 paintings later, Extinct Boids was born.
Ralph got carried away by the birds, taking Ceri with him ... this book details the discoveries they made on their travels through the savage seas of extinction. After stumbling on the previously hidden Toadstool Island, where the extinct birds of the world live on in secretive harmony, the duo spent nearly a year in close proximityto a host of fantastical avian creatures.
Ralph documents them all in this series of remarkable paintings, featuring unique interpretations of well-known birds such as the Great Auk, Passenger Pigeon and Dodo, along with less familiar members of the feathersome firmament - Snail-eating Coua, for example, or the Red-moustached Fruit Dove - and a variety of bizarre beasts including the Gob Swallow, the Long-legged Shortwing and the Needless Smut. All are captured in a riot of expression and colour, with a slice of trademark Steadman humour.
Based on emails, diary entries and phone conversations, Ceri's accompanying text provides a running commentary, detailing the unfolding madness behind the creation of each piece in Ralph's extraordinary work. Things got tough as the pair discovered just how many amazing birds have been lost from our world forever.
"But," as Ralph said "it did, after all, make a nice change from drawing politicians".
RECOMMENDATION: A humorous look at the serious subject of bird extinctions.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
SUMMARY: Even if you are an enthusiastic bird watcher, the details of how birds fly, why they behave as they do, how they breed and their extraordinary travels can seem very mysterious.
This lively new book aims to give readers a broad understanding of 'how birds work' from their physical make-up to courtship and breeding, social activity and their spread and travels. Readers will be able to interpret the kind of bird activity and behaviour that they see and hear in their gardens as well as in the wider countryside and on nature reserves.
Designed for the general interest reader and written in a lively and accessible style, the book is presented as a series of beautifully illustrated page spreads, enhanced by fully captioned photographs and with case studies of individual species of British and European birds.
RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction to the biology and behavior of European birds.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
SUMMARY: This easy-to-use identification guide to the 280 bird species most commonly seen in Malaysia (including the state of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) is perfect for resident and visitor alike.
High quality photographs from sone of Malaysia's top nature photographers are accompanied by detailed species descriptions which include nomenclature, length, plumage, distribution, habits and habitat. The user-friendly introductlon covers climate, vegetation, biogeography, opportunities for naturalists and the main sites for viewing the listed species. Also included in A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Malaysia is an all-important checklist of all of the birds of Malaysia encompassing, for each species, its common and scientific names as well as Malay names, its status In each state as well as its global status.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introductory photographic guide to the birds of the region.
2) Shi, Wong Tsu. A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Borneo: Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan. 2012. John Beaufoy Publishing. Paperback: 176 pages. Price: £9.99/ $14.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Borneo contains the author's high quality photographs, accompanied by detailed species descriptions which include nomenclature, size, distribution, habits and habitat. The introduction covers geography and climate, vegetation and the main sites for viewing the listed species. An all important checklist of all of the birds of Borneo gives, for each species, the common and scientific names, IUCN status as at 2011 and its status in each state of Borneo.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introductory photographic guide to the birds of the region.
Monday, April 22, 2013
SUMMARY: From one of our most highly regarded historians, here is an original and engrossing chronicle of nineteenth-century America’s infatuation with butterflies, and the story of the naturalists who unveiled the mysteries of their existence.
A product of William Leach’s lifelong love of butterflies, this engaging and elegantly illustrated history shows how Americans from all walks of life passionately pursued butterflies, and how through their discoveries and observations they transformed the character of natural history. Leach focuses on the correspondence and scientific writings of half a dozen pioneering lepidopterists who traveled across the country and throughout the world, collecting and studying unknown and exotic species. In a book as full of life as the subjects themselves and foregrounding a collecting culture now on the brink of vanishing, Leach reveals how the beauty of butterflies led Americans into a deeper understanding of the natural world. He shows, too, that the country’s enthusiasm for butterflies occurred at the very moment that another form of beauty—the technological and industrial objects being displayed at world’s fairs and commercial shows—was emerging, and that Americans’ attraction to this new beauty would eventually, and at great cost, take precedence over nature in general and butterflies in particular.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in American entomological history.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Friday, April 19, 2013
SUMMARY: Between extremes of climate farther north and south, the 38th North parallel line marks a temperate, middle latitude where human societies have thrived since the beginning of civilization. It divides North and South Korea, passes through Athens and San Francisco, and bisects Mono Lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada, where authors David and Janet Carle make their home. Former park rangers, the authors set out on an around-the-world journey in search of water-related environmental and cultural intersections along the 38th parallel. This book is a chronicle of their adventures as they meet people confronting challenges in water supply, pollution, wetlands loss, and habitat protection. At the heart of the narrative are the riveting stories of the passionate individuals—scientists, educators, and local activists—who are struggling to preserve some of the world's most amazing, yet threatened, landscapes.
Traveling largely outside of cities, away from well-beaten tourist tracks, the authors cross Japan, Korea, China, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Greece, Sicily, Spain, Portugal, the Azores Islands, and the United States—from Chesapeake Bay to San Francisco Bay. The stories they gather provide stark contrasts as well as reaffirming similarities across diverse cultures. Generously illustrated with maps and photos, Traveling the 38th Parallel documents devastating environmental losses but also inspiring gains made through the efforts of dedicated individuals working against the odds to protect these fragile places.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting travelogue centered around a water theme.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
SUMMARY: The Natural History of Canadian Mammals is a beautifully illustrated, up-to-date guide to all 215 known species of mammals in Canada. It features brand-new, full-colour images of each species, as well as stunning photographs from Canadian Geographic magazine’s national photography competitions depicting the animals in their natural environments.
Along with being a visual treat, this book is jam-packed with information accessible to readers at all levels. Detailed descriptions are provided of each mammal’s appearance, habitat, and behavior, while colour maps show their full distribution across Canada, North America, and globally. The book also includes practical guides on tracking and identification for readers who would like to learn how to spot mammals in the wild. Among its most special features is a series of colour plates with vignettes of the Canadian representatives of each group, sized relative to one another for easy comparison and linked to the full species accounts later in the book.
Comprehensive and immensely valuable, The Natural History of Canadian Mammals will become a treasured companion for scientific researchers, animal lovers, and all those wishing to gain a greater appreciation of Canada’s natural wonders. The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada’s national natural history museum, continues to author these wonderful books in its goal to inspire a greater understanding of the natural environment.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with an interest in Canadian mammals! It will be useful in other parts of North America too.
Monday, April 15, 2013
SUMMARY: This long-awaited collection of James Landenberger’s (1938-2003) paintings of Iowa birds of prey presents thirty-two full-page, full-color species, from the common turkey vulture to the red-shouldered hawk of Mississippi River woodlands to the little northern saw-whet owl. Four naturalists who have devoted their lives to conserving wilderness habitats and species have written essays to complement the paintings.
Thanks to state and federal laws and a shift in public attitude, birds of prey are no longer seen as incarnations of ferocity but as creatures superbly attuned to their lives and surroundings. Although Iowa unfortunately leads the way in the amount of wildlife habitat that has been destroyed, conservation organizations and state agencies have also led the way toward successful raptor restoration projects, among them a roadside nest box program for the American kestrel, a project to restore peregrine falcons to their historic eyries, and a relocation program that should ensure a sustainable population of ospreys. The recent spectacular recovery of the bald eagle, whose nests had vanished from the state for seventy years, is particularly encouraging.
There can be no substitute for seeing thousands of broad-winged hawks soaring high overhead during migration, a great horned owl perching in silhouette at dusk, or a Cooper’s hawk plunging toward its prey along the roadside. But Jim Landenberger’s meticulously detailed paintings go a long way toward conveying the remarkable beauty of the American kestrel and other falcons, the grace of the swallow-tailed kite, the immaculate mystery of the snowy owl and its fellow owls, the glistening head feathers of an adult bald eagle, and the piercing defiance so characteristic of our larger hawks.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the birds of Iowa, raptors in general, or bird art.
SUMMARY: Handbook of Agricultural Entomology by Helmut van Emden is a landmark publication for students and practitioners of entomology applied to agriculture and horticulture. It can be used as a reference and as a general textbook.
The book opens with a general introduction to entomology and includes coverage of the major insects (and mites) that cause harm to crops, livestock and humans. The important beneficial species are also included. Organisms are described in a classification of insect Orders and Families. The emphasis is on morphological characters of major taxonomic divisions, “spot characters” for the recognition of Families, and the life histories, damage symptoms and economic importance of the various pest species.
The book is beautifully illustrated in full colour with more than 400 figures showing both the organisms and the damage caused to plants with diagnostic characters indicated by arrows. Coverage is world-wide and includes much material stemming from the vast personal experience of the author.
A companion website with additional resources is available at www.wiley.com/go/vanemden/agriculturalentomology
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest on the subject.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
SUMMARY: Explorer and naturalist Tim Gallagher is obsessed with rare birds. A decade ago, Gallagher was one of the rediscoverers of the legendary ivory-billed woodpecker, which most scientists believed had been extinct for more than half a century—an event that caused an international stir. Now, in Imperial Dreams, Gallagher once again hits the trail, journeying deep into Mexico’s savagely beautiful Sierra Madre Occidental, home to rich wildlife, as well as to Mexican drug cartels, in a perilous quest to locate the most elusive bird in the world—the imperial woodpecker, a giant among its clan.
The imperial woodpecker’s trumpetlike calls and distinctive hammering on massive pines once echoed through the high forests. Two feet tall, with deep black plumage, a brilliant snow-white shield on its back, and a crimson crest, the imperial woodpecker had largely disappeared fifty years ago, though reports persist of the bird still flying through remote mountain stands. In an attempt to find and protect the imperial woodpecker in its last habitat, Gallagher is guided by a map of sightings of this natural treasure of the Sierra Madre, bestowed on him by a friend on his deathbed. Charged with continuing the quest of a line of distinguished naturalists, including the great Aldo Leopold, Gallagher treks through this mysterious, historically untamed and untamable territory. Here, where an ancient petroglyph of the imperial can still be found, Geronimo led Apaches in their last stand, William Randolph Hearst held a storied million-acre ranch, and Pancho Villa once roamed, today ruthless drug lords terrorize residents and steal and strip the land.
Gallagher’s passionate quest takes a harrowing turn as he encounters armed drug traffickers, burning houses, and fleeing villagers. His mission becomes a life-and-death drama that will keep armchair adventurers enthralled as he chases truth in the most dangerous of habitats.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's The Grail Bird, you'll enjoy this book.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
SUMMARY: This is the first book to help general readers recognize 200 common mosses of the Northeast and the Appalachian Mountains. With just this field guide, a hand lens, and a spray bottle--no microscopes necessary--readers will be able to identify and name many of the common species of mosses growing in the region's backyards, parks, forests, wetlands, and mountains. At the heart of this guide is an innovative, color-tabbed system that helps readers pick out small groups of similar species. Illustrated identification keys, colorful habitat and leaf photos, more than 600 detailed line drawings, and written descriptions help differentiate the species. This accessible book allows all nature enthusiasts to make accurate identifications and gain access to the enchanting world of mosses.
This book features:
*200 species included
*More than 600 detailed line drawings
*More than 400 color photographs
*Innovative color-tabbed system for species identification
*Illustrated species identification keys
*Helpful tips for moss collecting
RECOMMENDATION: A useful guide to the mosses of the region.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
SUMMARY: Follow the pterosaur, a majestic flying reptile, as he encounters a pack of tiny but vicious dinosaurs. A unique blend of digital illustrations and landscape photography brings the ensuing battle to life.
Pterosaur Trouble is book two in the Tales of Prehistoric Life series (the first one being: Ankylosaur Attack). Dramatic stories + eye-popping visuals = a surefire hit with young dinosaur lovers.
RECOMMENDATION: For ages: 4 to 7. If you enjoyed the author's other books, you'll enjoy this one!
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Saturday, April 6, 2013
SUMMARY: Rockfishes and their close relatives are some of the most important fishes on the Pacific Coast. They occur on reefs, around sunken vessels, and among kelp beds, and they often comprise more than 90 percent of all the fishes living in these locations. Rockfishes are favorites of recreational and commercial fishers and have major economic value. They are the frequent subjects of underwater photographers, but in spite of a wide appreciation of their beauty, identifying these closely related species, particularly underwater, is challenging. With over 400 color photographs of both juveniles and adults, this is the first book to present all of these remarkable fishes in one guide and the first devoted solely to their identification.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in these fishes.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
SUMMARY: This beautifully illustrated book vividly depicts the most threatened birds on Earth. It provides up-to-date information from BirdLife International on the threats each species faces, and the measures being taken to save them. Today, 590 bird species are classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered, or now only exist in captivity. This landmark publication features stunning photographs of 515 species--including the results of a prestigious international photographic competition organized specifically for this book. This is the first time that images of many of these birds have been published. It also showcases meticulously accurate illustrations by acclaimed wildlife artist Tomasz Cofta for the 75 species of which no photographs are known to exist.
The World's Rarest Birds has introductory chapters that explain the threats birds face in a rapidly changing world, how their threat status is assessed, and how this information is used to set conservation priorities. The book is divided into seven regional sections--Europe and the Middle East; Africa and Madagascar; Asia; Australasia; Oceanic Islands; North America, Central America, and the Caribbean; and South America. Each section highlights particular conservation challenges and threatened bird hotspots, and includes a comprehensive illustrated directory of the most endangered birds, giving a concise description of their distribution, status, population, key threats, and conservation needs. This one-of-a-kind book also covers the 60 Data Deficient species. QR codes are included for every species, linked directly to the relevant species factsheet on BirdLife International's website, where detailed, up-to-date information is freely available.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in bird conservation.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
SUMMARY: Britain's Hoverflies is a beautifully illustrated photographic field guide to all the genera of hoverflies found in Britain, focusing on the species that can be most readily identified. Designed to be accessible and to appeal to a wide audience, the book contains more than 500 remarkable photographs of the various life stages of 165 species, including at least one representative from each of the 70 British genera. Easy-to-use species accounts summarize the species' status, highlight the key identification features, provide notes on behaviour and habitat requirements, and contain a distribution map and phenology chart. The book contains a guide to the hoverfly tribes, and introductory chapters examine hoverfly biology, and where and when to look for hoverflies.
This field guide is the perfect companion for wildlife enthusiasts, professional ecologists, and anyone with an interest in this fascinating group of insects.
This book includes:
*More than 500 remarkable photographs.
*Covers 165 species that can be identified by eye or with a magnifying glass, including at least one representative from each of the 70 British genera.
*Species accounts highlight the key identification features of each genus and species, and provide information on status, behaviour, and habitat requirements.
*Maps and charts show the distribution of each species and their flight periods.
*A guide to hoverfly tribes provides an aid to identification.
*Introductory chapters explore hoverfly biology and where and when to look for them.
*A complete list of the 281 hoverfly species recorded in Britain to date, with an indication for each of the degree of identification difficulty.
RECOMMENDATION: Anyone with an interest in these insects will want this book.