Monday, December 22, 2014

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                             Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Title

1) Held, Jacob M. and James B. South (editors). Philosophy and Terry Pratchett. 2014. Palgrave Macmillan. Paperback: 310 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: It's time to pick up your fedora and embark on a philosophical journey through Discworld!
     Terry Pratchett is world-famous for the narrative verve and surreal humour of his novels. But now meet another Terry Pratchett – a man of serious metaphysical ideas and sophisticated philosophical insights. In Philosophy and Terry Pratchett thirteen professional philosophers survey such key philosophical issues as personal identity, the nature of destiny, the value of individuality, the meaning of existentialism, the reality of universals and the existence of alternative realities. In considering these and many other equally fascinating themes, close reference is made to more than 35 Discworld novels as well as to the ideas of some of history's greatest philosophers including Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein and Rawls.
     During your journey, you will be surprised by numerous provocative conclusions including the startling claim that the existence of Discworld is logically possible! 
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of Terry Pratchett should enjoy this book.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Title

1) North, Chris and Paul Abel. How to Read the Solar System: A Guide to the Stars and Planets. 2014. Pegasus Books. Hardbound:  320 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: What exactly is the solar system? We've all learned the basics at school but do we really understand what we are seeing in the night sky? Expert astronomers Chris North and Paul Abel, provide a fascinating guided tour of our Solar System and explain its many wonders. They look at all the major players, including our more familiar cosmic neighbors—the Sun, the planets and their moons—as well as the occasional visitors to our planet—asteroids, meteors and comets—in addition to distant stars and what might lie beyond our Solar System, including the mysterious Earth Mark II? North and Abel recount the history of how our Solar System came to be, and the myths that once shaped astronomy. Through their cogent explanations of the latest scientific discoveries, they reveal how any amateur astronomer can view and interpret the Solar System and enrich their understanding of our universe. 
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in astronomy.

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                            Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Best Bird Books of 2014


The following are my picks for the best bird books of 2014:




1) del Hoyo, Josep and Nigel J. Collar. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. 2014. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 904 pages. Price: $245.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The first ever Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World is really two works in one. It is a complete checklist whose taxonomy incorporates the most up-to-date information and an exhaustive methodology (Tobias et al. 2010 [in the Ibis]) in an entirely systematic and consistent way. At the same time, it contains illustrations and distribution maps for every bird species in the world. This includes the original artwork from the HBW series, as well as hundreds of new illustrations, all in two compact volumes.
     This book features:
357 color plates.
     8,290 bird illustrations (including 242 new and 783 improved).
     4,428 distribution maps.
     34 full-page reference maps.
     2,126 bibliographical references.

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with a serious interest in birds! You can order the book from Lynx here:




1) Howell, Steve N.G., Ian Lewington and Will Russell. Rare Birds of North America. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 428 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. 

PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Rare Birds of North America is the first comprehensive illustrated guide to the vagrant birds that occur throughout the United States and Canada. Featuring 275 stunning color plates, this book covers 262 species originating from three very different regions--the Old World, the New World tropics, and the world's oceans. It explains the causes of avian vagrancy and breaks down patterns of occurrence by region and season, enabling readers to see where, when, and why each species occurs in North America. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, taxonomy, age, sex, distribution, and status. Rare Birds of North America provides unparalleled insights into vagrancy and avian migration, and will enrich the birding experience of anyone interested in finding and observing rare birds. This book features:

  • Covers 262 species of vagrant birds found in the United States and Canada
  • Features 275 stunning color plates that depict every species
  • Explains patterns of occurrence by region and season
  • Provides an invaluable overview of vagrancy patterns and migration
  • Includes detailed species accounts and cutting-edge identification tips 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all serious birders in North America!

2) Pratt, Thane K. & Bruce M. Beehler. Birds of New Guinea: Second Edition. 2014. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 528 pages. Price: $49.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is the completely revised edition of the essential field guide to the birds of New Guinea. The world’s largest tropical island, New Guinea boasts a spectacular avifauna characterized by cassowaries, megapodes, pigeons, parrots, cuckoos, kingfishers, and owlet-nightjars, as well as an exceptionally diverse assemblage of songbirds such as the iconic birds of paradise and bowerbirds. Birds of New Guinea is the only guide to cover all 780 bird species reported in the area, including 366 endemics. Expanding its coverage with 111 vibrant color plates—twice as many as the first edition—and the addition of 635 range maps, the book also contains updated species accounts with new information about identification, voice, habits, and range. A must-have for everyone from ecotourists to field researchers, Birds of New Guinea remains an indispensable guide to the diverse birds of this remarkable region. 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for birders with an interest in the region!

3) Baldassarre, Guy. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America: revised and updated. 2014. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 1027 pages (in 2 volumes). Price: $69.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America has been hailed as a classic since the first edition was published in 1942. A must-have for professional biologists, birders, waterfowl hunters, decoy collectors, and wildlife managers, this fully revised and updated [fourth] edition provides definitive information on the continent’s forty-six species. Maps of both winter and breeding ranges are presented with stunning images by top waterfowl photographers and the acclaimed original artwork of Robert W. (Bob) Hines.
     Originally authored by F. H. Kortright and later revised by Frank Bellrose, this latest edition, which has been meticulously updated by renowned waterfowl biologist Guy Baldassarre, continues the legacy of esteemed authors. Each species account contains in-depth sections on: • identification• distribution• migration behavior• habitat• population status• breeding biology• rearing of young• recruitment and survival• food habits and feeding ecology • molts and plumages• conservation and management
     To facilitate identification, the species accounts also include detailed illustrations of wings. An appendix contains comparative illustrations of ducklings, goslings, and cygnets.
     This edition of Ducks, Geese, and Swans consists of two volumes, printed in full color, and packaged in a slipcase, along with a CD containing references and additional maps. 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the waterfowl of North America.

4) Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds: Second Edition. 2014. Knopf. Flexibound: 598 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The publication of The Sibley Guide to Birds in 2000 quickly established David Allen Sibley as the author and illustrator of the nation’s supreme and most comprehensive guide to birds. Used by millions of birders from novices to the most expert, The Sibley Guide became the standard by which natural history guides are measured. The highly anticipated second edition builds on this foundation of excellence, offering massively expanded and updated information, new paintings, new and rare species, and a new, elegant design.
      The second edition offers a wealth of improvements and updates:
• All illustrations reproduced 15 to 20 percent larger for better detail.
• Includes nearly 7,000 paintings digitally remastered from original art for enhanced print quality.
• Expanded text includes habitat information and voice description for every species and more tips on finding birds in the field.
• More than 600 new paintings, including illustrations of 115 rare species and additional paintings of common species and regional populations.
• More than 700 updated maps of ranges, showing winter, summer, year-round, migration, and rare ranges.
• 85 bird family pages now cross-referenced to species accounts.
• Revised taxonomic order and most current common names for every species.
      The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition, brings the genius of David Allen Sibley to the world once again in a thoroughly updated and expanded volume that every birder must own. 
RECOMMENDATION: Now that the color and font problems from the first printing have been corrected in the second printing, I can now endorse this book!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New Title

1) Davis, Kate. American Kestrel: Pint-Sized Predator. 2014. Mountain Press. Paperback: 104 pages. Price: $18.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Colorful, noisy, and brash, the American Kestrel is the most endearing of North America’s raptors. With its vivid rufous and blue-gray plumage, peppered with dashes of black and white, this bird of prey is instantly recognizable to both novice and expert bird watchers, whether it’s diving for an insect on the wing or hovering over an open field while hunting for mice. The American Kestrel’s distinctive call, readily heard from miles away, is another identifier that makes this predator more noticeable than others. There’s no mistaking its klee, klee, klee, from which it received the nickname “killy hawk.”
     In American Kestrel: Pint-sized Predator, part natural history, part photographic exploration, renowned bird expert and master educator Kate Davis delves into the world of the American Kestrel, inviting you into the safe confines of its cavity nest and favored habitats. You’ll learn about the American Kestrel’s hunting tactics and prey, breeding strategies, migration paths and patterns, and the kestrel’s current status—their numbers are declining, and nobody’s quite sure why. Davis enthusiastically imparts the wisdom she has gained through extensive research and firsthand experience. One hundred astonishing photos shot by Davis and award-winning photographer Rob Palmer illustrate in full-color glory the story Davis deftly weaves. 
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the species.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Title

1) Eberth, David A. and David C. Evans (editors). Hadrosaurs. Indiana University Press. 2014. Hardbound: 623 pages. Price: $95.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Hadrosaurs—also known as duck-billed dinosaurs—are abundant in the fossil record. With their unique complex jaws and teeth perfectly suited to shred and chew plants, they flourished on Earth in remarkable diversity during the Late Cretaceous. So ubiquitous are their remains that we have learned more about dinosaurian paleobiology and paleoecology from hadrosaurs than we have from any other group. In recent years, hadrosaurs have been in the spotlight. Researchers around the world have been studying new specimens and new taxa seeking to expand and clarify our knowledge of these marvelous beasts. This volume presents the results of an international symposium on hadrosaurs, sponsored by the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum, where scientists and students gathered to share their research and their passion for duck-billed dinosaurs. A uniquely comprehensive treatment of hadrosaurs, the book encompasses not only the well-known hadrosaurids proper, but also Hadrosaouroidea, allowing the former group to be evaluated in a broader perspective. The 36 chapters are divided into six sections—an overview, new insights into hadrosaur origins, hadrosaurid anatomy and variation, biogeography and biostratigraphy, function and growth, and preservation, tracks, and traces—followed by an afterword by Jack Horner. 
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in these dinosaurs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Title

1) Emlen, Douglas J.. Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle. 2014. Henry Holt. Hardbound: 271 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The story behind the stunning, extreme weapons we see in the animal world--teeth and horns and claws--and what they can tell us about the way humans develop and use arms and other weapons
     In Animal Weapons, Doug Emlen takes us outside the lab and deep into the forests and jungles where he’s been studying animal weapons in nature for years, to explain the processes behind the most intriguing and curious examples of extreme animal weapons—fish with mouths larger than their bodies and bugs whose heads are so packed with muscle they don’t have room for eyes. As singular and strange as some of the weapons we encounter on these pages are, we learn that similar factors set their evolution in motion. Emlen uses these patterns to draw parallels to the way we humans develop and employ our own weapons, and have since battle began. He looks at everything from our armor and camouflage to the evolution of the rifle and the structures human populations have built across different regions and eras to protect their homes and communities. With stunning black and white drawings and gorgeous color illustrations of these concepts at work, Animal Weapons brings us the complete story of how weapons reach their most outsized, dramatic potential, and what the results we witness in the animal world can tell us about our own relationship with weapons of all kinds.  
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting take on this aspect of animal evolution and how it relates to Human warfare.

Monday, December 8, 2014

New Titles

1) Garrigues, Richard. The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Second Edition). 2014. Cornell University Press. Paperback: 426 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is the one compact, portable, and user-friendly field guide the novice or experienced birder needs to identify birds in the field in the diverse habitats found in Costa Rica. It features descriptions and illustrations of all 903 species definitely known from Costa Rica, including pelagics and species regular to Cocos Island. Fifty-six of these species are placed in a "Rarities" section that includes accidentals, rarer pelagics, and species that have not been reported in more than twenty years.
     The detailed full-color illustrations show identifying features—including plumage differences among males, females, and juveniles—and views of birds in flight wherever pertinent. Robert Dean has supplied more than 360 new illustrations, including sixty-four species that are illustrated for the first time in this edition. These include recent additions to the country list, pelagic species, Cocos Island species, and all accidentals recorded from the Costa Rican mainland. Range maps and nomenclature have been updated for this edition, which also has a new user-friendly organizational scheme and an alphabetical quick-find index of groups on the inside back cover. 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the birds of Costa Rica!

2) Witze, Alexandra and Jeff Kanipe. Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World. 2014. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 224 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Can a single explosion change the course of history? An eruption at the end of the 18th century led to years of climate change while igniting famine, disease, even perhaps revolution. Laki is one of Iceland’s most fearsome volcanoes.
     Laki is Iceland’s largest volcano. Its eruption in 1783 is one of history’s great, untold natural disasters. Spewing out sun-blocking ash and then a poisonous fog for eight long months, the effects of the eruption lingered across the world for years.  It caused the deaths of people as far away as the Nile and created catastrophic conditions throughout Europe. Island on Fire is the story not only of a single eruption but the people whose lives it changed, the dawn of modern volcanology, as well as the history—and potential—of other super-volcanoes like Laki around the world. And perhaps most pertinently, in the wake of the eruption of another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, which closed European air space in 2010, acclaimed science writers Witze and Kanipe look at what might transpire should Laki erupt again in our lifetime.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in history and/or geology.