Monday, December 12, 2016

Best Bird Books of 2016


The following are my picks for the best bird books of 2016:

 

BEST BOOK:

 

 

1) Reeber, Sébastien.Waterfowl of North America, Europe, and Asia: An Identification Guide. 2015. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 656 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is the ultimate guide for anyone who wants to identify the ducks, geese, and swans of North America, Europe, and Asia. With 72 stunning color plates (that include more than 920 drawings), over 650 superb photos, and in-depth descriptions, this book brings together the most current information on 84 species of Eurasian and North American waterfowl, and on more than 100 hybrids. The guide delves into taxonomy, identification features, determination of age and sex, geographic variations, measurements, voice, molt, and hybridization. In addition, the status of each species is treated with up-to-date details on distribution, population size, habitats, and life cycle. Color plates and photos are accompanied by informative captions and 85 distribution maps are also provided. Taken together, this is an unrivaled, must-have reference for any birder with an interest in the world's waterfowl.
 

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in waterfowl. I especially like the treatment of hybrids.

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 

 

1) Clement, Peter and Chris Rose. Robins and Chats. 2015. Helm. Hardbound: 688 pages. Price: $90.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Robins and chats are a diverse group of birds comprising both highly colourful and visible species, such as the robin-chats of Africa, as well as some of the most skulking and elusive birds, such as the shortwings of Asia. Many species, like the well-known Nightingale, are renowned songsters, some are even familiar garden birds, but a good number are highly sought-after for their extreme rarity or simply because they are hard to see.
     This authoritative handbook, part of the Helm Identification Guides series, looks in detail at the world's 175 species of robins and chats. This large group passerines was formerly considered to be part of the thrush family (Turdidae), but is now usually treated as a separate family, Muscicapidae, together with the Old World flycatchers. The vast majority of species are Eurasian or African, with only a handful of species straying into the New World or Australasia. The Australian Robins, although superficially similar, have long been regarded as a separate family and are not included in this book. 
     Robins and Chats discusses the identification and habits of these birds on a species-by-species basis, bringing together the very latest research with accurate range maps, more than 600 colour photographs, and 62 superb colour plates that illustrate age and racial plumage differences. This authoritative and sumptuous book will be indispensable for all chat enthusiasts, and will surely remain the standard reference on the subject for many years to come.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those that collect bird family monographs or have an interest in these species.

 


2) Shunk, Stephen. Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 298 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the iconic Woody Woodpecker to the ubiquitous Northern Flicker, woodpeckers have long captivated our attention. Their astonishing anatomy makes them one of the most specialized bird families in the world, and their keystone ecological roles in our forests and woodlands makes them some of the most important birds on the continent.
     This comprehensive and authoritative guide to the natural history, ecology, and conservation of North America’s 23 woodpecker species goes far beyond identification. It explores their unique anatomy and their fascinating and often comical behaviors; it covers each species’ North American conservation status; and it showcases over 250 stunning photographs of woodpeckers in their natural habitats, plus easy-to-read figures and range maps. This reference guide is an essential addition to every birder's library.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in North American woodpeckers!


3) Walther, Michael. Extinct Birds of Hawaii. 2016. Mutual Publishing. Hardbound: 238 pages. Price: $21.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Extinct Birds of Hawai'i captures the vanishing world of unique bird species that has  slipped away in the Islands mostly due to human frivolity and unconcern. Richly illustrated, including paintings by Julian P. Hume (many painted specifically for this volume), it enables us to enjoy vicariously avian life unique to Hawai'i that exists no longer.  
Extinct Birds of Hawai'i also sends a powerful message: Although Hawai'i is well-known for its unique scenic beauty and its fascinating native flora, fauna, bird and marine life, it is also called the extinction capital of the world. The Islands' seventy-seven bird species and sub-species extinctions account for approximately fifteen percent of global bird extinctions during the last seven-hundred years. On some islands over eighty percent of the original land bird species are now extinct.
     With the many agents of extinction still operating in the Islands' forests, Hawai'i's remaining native land birds are at a high risk of being lost forever. Many birdwatchers, nature lovers, and eco-tourists are unaware of the tremendous loss of species that has occurred in this remote archipelago. Extinct Birds of Hawai'i shows the bird life that has been lost and calls attention to the urgent need for preservation action.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated guide to these species. A must have for those with an interest in Hawaiian birds or bird extinctions.


4) Zickefoose, Julie. Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 338 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in bird nests, or what happens after a fledgling leaves the nest, come along on Julie’s sensitive exploration of often-uncharted ornithological ground.
     This beautiful book is as much an art book as it is a natural history, something readers have come to expect from Julie Zickefoose. More than 400 watercolor paintings show the breathtakingly swift development of seventeen different species of wild birds. Sixteen of those species nest on Julie's wildlife sanctuary, so she knows the birds intimately, and writes about them with authority. To create the bulk of this extraordinary work, Julie would borrow a wild nestling, draw it, then return it to its nest every day until it fledged. Some were orphans she raised by hand, giving the ultimate insider’s glimpse into their lives. In sparkling prose, Julie shares a lifetime of insight about bird breeding biology, growth, and cognition.
      As an artist and wildlife rehabilitator, Julie possesses a unique skill set that includes sketching and painting rapidly from life as well as handling delicate hatchlings. She is uniquely positioned to create such an opus, and in fact, nothing like it has ever been attempted. Julie has many fans, and she will gain many more with this unparalleled work.
RECOMMENDATION: This is Zickefoose's best book to date!

 

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