1) Sheppard, Jay M.. The Biology of a Desert Apparition: LeConte’s Thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei). 2018. Western Field Ornithologists. Paperback: 210 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S. (plus shipping and handling).
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: LeConte’s Thrasher—a shy, poorly-known, and little-studied species—is found in the hottest and driest deserts of the American Southwest and northwestern Mexico. Mr. Sheppard has spent years studying this enigmatic bird. This monograph gives the results of his study that included 350 color-marked thrashers studied near Maricopa, California. The systematics of the genus Toxostoma and the taxonomy of T. lecontei are examined. A detailed discussion of this thrasher’s distribution, ecology and conservation are followed by a thorough study of its general life history. The latter includes extensive data on reproduction, population dynamics, reproductive output, behavior, molt, development, vocalizations, and feeding and prey analysis. Dispersal and other movements, pair bonds, survival, and territoriality were studied in a color-marked population at Maricopa, California. Detailed notes and records from hundreds of field observers and other sources were utilized to provide as complete a life history and distribution of this species as currently possible. Future research needs are enumerated. Mr. Sheppard is a now retired ornithologist of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and resides in Laurel, Maryland.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the species.
2) Shuford, W. David, Robert E. Gill Jr., and Colleen M. Handel, editors. Trends and Traditions: Avifaunal Change in Western North America. 2018. Western Field Ornithologists. Paperback: 466 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.(plus shipping and handling).
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The status of the rich avifauna of western North America is ever changing in response to human influences, geomorphic processes, and natural climatic variation. Documenting and synthesizing the patterns, rate, and causes of these changes is crucial for the conservation of birds in this region, particularly in a time of rapid climate change, expanding human population, and accelerated resource extraction. To that end, a symposium on avifaunal change was held at Western Field Ornithologists’ annual conference in San Diego, California, in October 2014, which formed the basis for the current volume. The papers herein emphasize the overarching themes of the effects of extensive habitat loss and degradation on the avifauna of the West in the 19th and 20th centuries and the responses of birds to environmental change and variation. Several papers portray rays of hope, documenting reversals of trends in the loss of some important habitats, the recovery of some avian populations in response to management, and resiliency in other species as they adapt to novel habitats. Others express increasing concern for the potential future effects of a rapidly changing climate. Most emphasize the importance of long-term monitoring of the population trends, distribution, and ecological attributes of the region’s birdlife. The geographical representation and bird species or groups covered varies widely. Collectively these papers should aid in the long-term conservation of the region’s birdlife.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in bird populations of Western North America.