Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Best Bird Books of 2017

  

The following are my picks for the best bird books of 2017:

 

BEST BOOK:

 

 1) del Hoyo, Josep and Nigel J. Collar. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. 2016. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 1013 pages. Price: $275.00 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 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. This volume covers the passerines with 440 plates, 12,100 bird illustrations and 6,638 distribution maps.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with a serious interest in birds! 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 

1) Menkhorst, Peter et al.. The Australian Bird Guide. 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 566 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Australian avifauna is large, diverse, and spectacular, reflecting the continent's impressive habitats and evolutionary history. Looking at more than 900 species, The Australian Bird Guide is the most comprehensive field guide on Australian birds available, and contains by far the best coverage of southern seabirds. With 249 color plates containing 4,000 stunning images, this book offers a far more in-depth treatment of subspecies, rarities, and overall plumage variation than comparative guides. The artwork meets the highest standards, and the text is rigorously accurate and current in terms of identification details, distribution, and status. The Australian Bird Guide sets a new bar for coverage of Australia's remarkable avifauna and is indispensable to all birders and naturalists interested in this area of the world, including the southern oceans.

  • Brand-new guide with an attractive look and design
  • 249 color plates containing 4,000 superb images by some of the most talented illustrators working in Australia today
  • Every bird species in Australia is covered (more than 900), including subspecies and rarities
  • Up-to-date maps reflect the latest information on distribution
  • Accurate and detailed text
 RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone birding Australia! 



2) Clark, William S. and N. John Schmitt. Raptors of Mexico and Central America. 2017. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 304 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Raptors are among the most challenging birds to identify in the field due to their bewildering variability of plumage, flight silhouettes, and behavior. Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the first illustrated guide to the region's 69 species of raptors, including vagrants. It features 32 stunning color plates and 213 color photos, and a distribution map for each regularly occurring species. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, age-related plumages, status and distribution, subspecies, molt, habitats, behaviors, potential confusion species, and more.
     Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the essential field guide to this difficult bird group and the ideal travel companion for anyone visiting this region of the world.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the raptors of the region!




3) Dunn, Jon L. and Jonathan Alderfer. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition. 2017. National Geographic. Paperback: 591 pages. Price: $29.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This fully revised edition of the best-selling North American bird field guide is the most up-to-date guide on the market. Perfect for beginning to advanced birders, it is the only book organized to match the latest American Ornithological Society taxonomy.
     With more than 2.75 million copies in print, this perennial bestseller is the most frequently updated of all North American bird field guides. Filled with hand-painted illustrations from top nature artists (including the ever-popular hummingbird), this latest edition is poised to become an instant must-have for every serious birder in the United States and Canada. The 7th edition includes 37 new species for a total of 1,023 species; 16 new pages allow for 250 fresh illustrations; 80 new maps; and 350 map revisions. With taxonomy revised to reflect the radical new American Ornithological Society taxonomy established in 2016, the addition of standardized banding codes, and text completely vetted by birding experts, this new edition will top of the list of birding field guides for years to come.
RECOMMENDATION: This edition was updated through December 2016. Of all the new artwork, the hummingbird plates are the most revised (all new except for Lucifer Hummingbird). If you own other editions of this book, you will want this one!




4) Prum, Richard. The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us. 2017. Doubleday. Hardbound: 428 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work, revealing how mating preferences—what Darwin termed "the taste for the beautiful"—create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world.
     In the great halls of science, dogma holds that Darwin's theory of natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life: which species thrive, which wither away to extinction, and what features each evolves. But can adaptation by natural selection really account for everything we see in nature?
     Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum—reviving Darwin's own views—thinks not. Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays: Club-winged Manakins who sing with their wings, Great Argus Pheasants who dazzle prospective mates with a four-foot-wide cone of feathers covered in golden 3D spheres, Red-capped Manakins who moonwalk. In thirty years of fieldwork, Prum has seen numerous display traits that seem disconnected from, if not outright contrary to, selection for individual survival. To explain this, he dusts off Darwin's long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons—for the mere pleasure of it—is an independent engine of evolutionary change.
    Mate choice can drive ornamental traits from the constraints of adaptive evolution, allowing them to grow ever more elaborate. It also sets the stakes for sexual conflict, in which the sexual autonomy of the female evolves in response to male sexual control. Most crucially, this framework provides important insights into the evolution of human sexuality, particularly the ways in which female preferences have changed male bodies, and even maleness itself, through evolutionary time.
     The Evolution of Beauty presents a unique scientific vision for how nature's splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in evolutionary biology.

1 comment:

  1. The HBW Illustrated Checklist is indeed a glory to behold, and its inevitable obsolescence—like all checklists—will be a sad affair, since I will not be able to afford new editions. I also worry about the homogenization of bird illustrations as the Checklist continues to be accessed to produce spinoff regional field guides.

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