Wednesday, April 18, 2018

New Title


1) Stenning, Martyn. The Blue Tit. 2018. Poyser. Hardbound: 320 pages. Price: $85.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Sporting a mix of blue, yellow, white, green, and black, the unmistakable Blue Tit echoes the hues of an Earth that is becoming increasingly populated. Blue Tits have adapted well to modern humanity, taking advantage of our propensity to feed birds and provide nest-boxes. In turn, this charismatic species provides an excellent model for research, and currently features in around 100 scientific papers annually. This new Poyser monograph is the result of a personal quest by author Martyn Stenning to bring these discoveries together in one accessible volume.
     The text initially invites readers into the intimate life of breeding Blue Tits and describes how nature has shaped their destiny. Moving on to the diversification and classification of Blue Tit variation across their range, the story progresses into population structure, life-time ecology, and mortality, culminating in an exploration of factors that determine breeding success. The book concludes with a genial selection of anecdotes, folklore, and poetry.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for all those with an interest in the Paridae.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New Titles


1) Pyle, Robert Michael and Caitlin LaBar. Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest. 2018. Timber Press. Flexibound: 462 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A comprehensive field guide to the butterflies of the Pacific Northwest from a renowned expert.
     Easy to use and beautifully illustrated with more than 600 color photographs and nearly 200 maps, Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest is a must-have for nature lovers in Washington, Oregon, western Idaho, northern California, and British Columbia. The profiles include preferred common name for both genus and species, type locality, conservation status, the look and distinguishing traits of each butterfly, the preferred food-plants and nectar plants, habitat and range, and much more. 17 illustrative plates are included to help users compare and identify species. Additional information includes a brief introduction to how butterflies work and details on ecology and conservation.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all butterfliers in the region! 


2) Holman, J. Alan. Fossil Frogs and Toads of North America. 2018 (2003). Indiana University Press. Paperback: 246 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Despite being one of the most versatile and interesting amphibians in North America, frogs and toads (otherwise known as anurans) have traditionally not received enough attention from science. But now, with the population of modern frogs and toads dwindling at an alarming rate, author J. Alan Holman brings together the latest research and findings about ancient anurans, expanding the world's knowledge about these fascinating creatures while there is still time to understand and save them.
     Comprehensive and lavishly illustrated, this essential guide provides a general account of the fossil record, a detailed account of individual anuran bones used in paleontological studies, and an epoch-by-epoch discussion of Mesozoic, Tertiary, and Pleistocene anurans and the changes they experienced throughout their evolution. Fossil taxa still living are reviewed in terms of modern characteristics, ecological attributes, modern ranges, and diagnostic skeletal elements. With detailed fossil history, biology, and anatomy, Fossil Frogs and Toads of North America is an informative, accessible book for anyone interested in frogs and toads and the scientific history of their evolution into the animals we know today.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in fossil anurans.


Monday, April 16, 2018

New Titles


1) Johnson, Kirk Wallace. The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century. 2018. Viking. Hardbound: 308 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins—some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin's, Alfred Russel Wallace, who'd risked everything to gather them—and escaped into the darkness.
     Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man's destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.

RECOMMENDATION: An interesting true life crime story involving bird specimens and fly-fishing.


2) Brusatte, Steve. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World. 2018. William Morrow. Hardbound: 404 pages. Price: $29.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before.
     In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field—naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork—masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages.
     Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”
     Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.
     An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.
RECOMMENDATION: A nice overview of current dinosaur knowledge.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

New Titles



1) Olsen, Klaus Malling. Gulls of the World: A Photographic Guide. 2018. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 368 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: With more than 50 gull species in the world, this family of seabirds poses some of the greatest field identification challenges of any bird group: age-related plumage changes, extensive variations within species, frequent hybridization, and complex distribution.
     Gulls of the World takes on these challenges and is the first book to provide a comprehensive look at these birds. Concise text emphasizes field identification, with in-depth discussion of variations as well as coverage of habitat, status, and distribution. Abundant photographs highlight identification criteria and, crucially, factor in age and subspecific field separation. Informative species accounts are accompanied by detailed color range maps.
     Gulls of the World is the most authoritative photographic guide to this remarkable bird family.
  • The first book to provide in-depth coverage of all the world's gull species
  • More than 600 stunning color photographs
  • Concise text looks at variations, habitat, status, and distribution
  • Informative species accounts and color range maps
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all Larophiles!


2) Sale, Richard and Per Michelsen. Wildlife of the Arctic (Princeton Pocket Guides). 2018. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 335 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Wildlife of the Arctic is an accessible and richly illustrated pocket-sized photographic field guide to the birds, land and sea mammals, and plants and lichens of the northern polar region--including Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, and Russia. Written and illustrated by naturalists with extensive Arctic experience, this handy book features detailed facing-page descriptions of each species, including information about identification, range, distribution, and breeding and wintering grounds. A substantial introduction explains the area covered, with information on the poles, geology, snow and ice, auroras, and the influence of global warming. This portable, user-friendly guide is the perfect companion for birders, ecotourists, and cruise-line passengers visiting the Arctic Circle and other areas of the far north.
  • An accessible and richly illustrated pocket-sized photographic field guide to Artic wildlife
  • Features more than 800 color photos illustrating more than 250 bird species, 60 land mammals, and 30 seals and whales
  • Includes extensive facing-page species descriptions and identification information
  • Provides an overview of the Arctic region, with information on the poles, geology, snow and ice, auroras, and the influence of global warming
  • Explores each family of birds and mammals, and has sections covering fish, insects, plants, and lichens
RECOMMENDATION: This handy-sized guide focuses mostly on birds and mammals.



Friday, April 13, 2018

New Titles



1) Lister, Adrian. Darwin's Fossils: The Collection That Shaped the Theory of Evolution. 2018. Smithsonian Books. Paperback: 232 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Darwin's Fossils is an accessible account of Darwin's pioneering work on fossils, his adventures in South America, and his relationship with the scientific establishment.
     While Darwin's research on Gal├ípagos finches is celebrated, his work on fossils is less well known. Yet he was the first to collect the remains of giant extinct South American mammals; he worked out how coral reefs and atolls formed; he excavated and explained marine fossils high in the Andes; and he discovered a fossil forest that now bears his name. All of this research was fundamental in leading Darwin to develop his revolutionary theory of evolution. 
     This richly illustrated book brings Darwin's fossils, many of which survive in museums and institutions around the world, together for the first time. Including new photography of many of the fossils--which in recent years have enjoyed a surge of scientific interest--as well as superb line drawings produced in the nineteenth century and newly commissioned artists' reconstructions of the extinct animals as they are understood today, Darwin's Fossils reveals how Darwin's discoveries played a crucial role in the development of his groundbreaking ideas.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated overview of the topic. 


2) Olina, Pietro. Pasta for Nightingales: A 17th-Century Handbook of Bird-Care and Folklore. 2018. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 133 pages. Price: $22.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The first-ever English translation of a seventeenth-century ornithology text, complete with historic watercolor illustrations.
     This beautifully illustrated book brings together the newly commissioned, first-ever English translation of one of the earliest studies in ornithology with the original watercolors, now part of the British Royal Collection, that provided the inspiration for its engraved illustrations. The watercolors, created for the “Paper Museum” of the seventeenth-century scholar and art collector Cassiano dal Pozzo, are here combined with the translated text of amateur naturalist Pietro Olina’s original Uccelliera of 1622 to create a new work that provides a fascinating glimpse of ornithology’s earliest days—a period when folklore informed natural history studies as much as science did.
     With meditations on the “epileptic” robin redbreast and a recipe for chickpea pasta meant to satisfy a nightingale and keep it in song, this work is an enchanting re-presentation of natural history literature. Retaining the character of Olina’s original design, this unique book describes over forty much-loved species, and is sure to please bird watchers, naturalists, and antiquarian book lovers alike.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in historical ornithological texts.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Title


1) Howell, Steve N. G. and Brian L. Sullivan. Peterson Guide to Bird Identification―in 12 Steps. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 152 pages. Price: $17.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Identifying birds can be overwhelming. Where and how do you start? The good news is that most people already know more than they realize about birds, which can greatly simplify the identification process.
     Written in a helpful, conversational style and illustrated with numerous photos, this “12-step program” starts with the basics and builds logically into a manageable framework that enables anyone to get into, or get more out of, the world of watching, identifying, and enjoying birds.
RECOMMENDATION: Best for beginning and intermediate level birders.