Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New Titles


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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

New Title


1) Joel and Laura Oppenheimer. The Family of Hummingbirds: The Complete Prints of John Gould. 2018. Rizzoli Electa. Hardbound: 304 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This sublime collection of 418 superbly detailed hand-colored lithographs of hummingbirds, created by John Gould, the “British Audubon,” in the mid-1800s, represents all the known species at that time and is the most complete ever produced of hummingbirds. Unlike John James Audubon, whose work focused on the avifauna of a single country, Gould’s folios illustrate species from around the world. His original set of folios—Family of Humming-Birds—reproduced here in its entirety, depicts the magnificent jewel-like birds together with botanicals native to their habitats in the most remote and exotic ecosystems of the Americas.
     In her essay for the book, co-author Laura Oppenheimer tells the story of Gould’s colorful life and places his work in the context of a remarkable period when exploration and classification of the world’s natural wonders was at the forefront of scientific discovery and universally celebrated in Victorian popular culture. Joel Oppenheimer details how Gould created the prints and presents an overview of nineteenth-century printmaking and lithography techniques. He also unravels the mystery behind the gold-leaf process that Gould employed to portray the iridescent quality of the hummingbirds’ plumage, resolving a long-standing controversy regarding who should be credited for its invention. This Family of Hummingbirds will delight birdwatchers, fans of natural history art, and hummingbird lovers everywhere.
RECOMMENDATION: When compared to the Wellfleet (1990) reprint, this version is smaller and lacks Gould's original text, but has more introductory material.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

New Title


1) Clark, Bill and Rob Davies. African Raptors. 2018. Helm. Hardbound: 336 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Africa has the most diverse range of raptors of any continent, with almost a third of the world's species occurring in the region. This comprehensive new book examines all of these species in impressive detail, emphasizing their field identification. A full range of plumages is illustrated for each species, with each plate usually covering only two species.
     The specially commissioned artwork has been painted by raptor enthusiast Rob Davies. The authoritative text treats the identification of both perched and in-flight birds and covers all major plumages and morphs. These texts are accompanied by up-to-date range maps and many fabulous color photographs from some of the world's leading bird photographers. This new book will be an essential reference for all those with an interest in raptors and especially in African raptors.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in African raptors!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

New Titles



1) Vallely, Andrew and Dale Dyer. Birds of Central America: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. 2018. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 584 pages. Price: $49.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birds of Central America is the first comprehensive field guide to the avifauna of the entire region, including Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Handy and compact, the book presents text and illustrations for nearly 1,200 resident and migrant species, and information on all rare vagrants. Two hundred sixty detailed plates on convenient facing-page spreads depict differing ages and sexes for each species, with a special focus on geographic variation. The guide also contains up-to-date range maps and concise notes on distribution, habitat, behavior, and voice. An introduction provides a brief overview of the region’s landscape, climate, and biogeography.
     The culmination of more than a decade of research and field experience, Birds of Central America is an indispensable resource for all those interested in the bird life of this part of the world.
  • Detailed information on the entire avifauna of Central America
  • 260 beautiful color plates
  • Range maps, text, and illustrations presented on convenient facing-page spreads
  • Up-to-date notes on distribution supported by an extensive bibliography
  • Special focus on geographic variation of bird species
 RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those birding the region!


2) Johnson, Kirk and Ray Troll. Cruisin' the Fossil Coastline: The Travels of an Artist and a Scientist along the Shores of the Prehistoric Pacific. 2018. Fulcrum Publishing. Paperback: 276 pages. Price: $35.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In this long-awaited sequel [to Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway] Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll are back on a road trip—driving, flying, and boating their way from Baja, California to northern Alaska in search of the fossil secrets of North America’s Pacific coast. They hunt for fossils, visit museums, meet scientists and paleonerds, and sleuth out untold stories of extinct worlds. 
     As one of the oldest coasts on earth, the west coast is a rich ground for fossil discovery. Its wonders include extinct marine mammals, pygmy mammoths, oyster bears, immense ammonites, shark-bitten camels, polar dinosaurs, Alaskan palms, California walruses, and a lava-baked rhinoceros. Join in for a fossil journey through deep time and discover how the west coast became the place it is today. RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those who are fans of Ray Troll's artwork.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

New Title


1) Stebbins, Robert C. and Samuel M. McGinnis. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles & Amphibians, Fourth Edition. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 560 pages. Price: $24.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is the most comprehensive and trusted guide to reptiles and amphibians of western North America. The new edition retains the realistic and accurate paintings by Robert Stebbins and includes 160 color photographs for additional detail. All range maps are up to date and placed within their species accounts. Family, genus, species, and subspecies names have been updated to the currently accepted usage. Illustrations of eggs and larvae, which can aid in identifying salamanders and frogs, are a particularly helpful feature.
     The area covered includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, the western corner of Nunavut, Yukon, and Baja California.
     Sponsored by the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all those with an interest in the reptiles and amphibians of the region!