1) Peterson Field Guide to North American Bird Nests. 2021. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 500 Pages. Price: $24.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A comprehensive field guide to the nests and nesting behavior of North American birds.
Beyond being a simple reference book, the Peterson Field Guide to North American Bird Nests is a practical, educational, and intimate doorway to our continent’s bird life. The diversity of nests and nesting strategies of birds reflect the unique biology and evolution of these charismatic animals. Unlike any other book currently on the market, this guide comprehensively incorporates nest design, breeding behavior, and habitat preferences of North American birds to provide the reader with a highly functional field resource and an engaging perspective of this sensitive part of a bird’s life cycle.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the breeding biology of North American birds!
2) Bird Families of North America. 2021. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 276 pages. Price: $26.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Focusing on families and their shared traits makes bird identification easier than ever.
This guide takes readers beyond merely identifying birds to understanding them. Many birders can tell the difference between a White-eyed and Bell’s Vireo but cannot begin to describe a vireo and what distinguishes members of this family from warblers or flycatchers. The “species by species” approach makes it difficult to appreciate birds for what they are: members of well-organized groupings united by common traits. Putting the focus on families, and their shared characteristics, makes bird identification easier and more meaningful. More than 150 color photos illustrate the 81 bird families of the United States and Canada.
RECOMMENDATION: A nice overview of North American bird families!
3) Paruk, James D.. Loon Lessons: Uncommon Encounters with the Great Northern Diver. 2021. University of Minnesota Press. Hardbound: 221 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The nature of the common loon, from biology to behavior, from one of the world’s foremost observers of the revered waterbird.
Even those who know the loon’s call might not recognize it as a tremolo, yodel, or wail, and may not understand what each call means, how it’s made, and why. And those who marvel at the loon’s diving prowess might wonder why this bird has such skill, or where loons go when they must leave northern lakes in winter. For these and so many other mysteries, Loon Lessons provides evolutionary and ecological explanations that are curious and compelling. Written by one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject, the book is a compendium of knowledge about the common loon and an engaging record of scientific sleuthing, documenting more than twenty-five years of research into the great northern diver.
James D. Paruk has observed and compared loons from Washington and Saskatchewan to the coasts of California and Louisiana, from high elevation deserts in Nevada to mountain lakes in Maine. Drawing on his extensive experience, a wealth of data, and well-established scientific principles, he considers every aspect of the loon, from its plumage and anatomy to its breeding, migration, and wintering strategies. Here, in the first detailed scientific account of the common loon in more than thirty years, Paruk describes its biology in an accessible and entertaining style that affords a deeper understanding of this beautiful and mysterious bird’s natural history and annual life cycle.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for all loon fans!
4) Tyler, Michael J. and Frank Knight. Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia (Second Edition). 2020. CSIRO Publishing. Paperback: 200 pages. Price: $32.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Throughout much of the world, frog populations are declining, with the survival of many species under threat. In Australia, several species have become extinct in the past 35 years.
This second edition of Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia provides fully updated accounts of all the known frogs of Australia. There are 248 species within the five native frog families: Hylidae, Limnodynastidae, Microhylidae, Myobatrachidae and Ranidae. Also included are the introduced Cane Toad and nine "stowaway" species that have arrived in Australia.
Each species account includes details of size, status, distribution, habitat, behavior and advertisement call. Species are beautifully illustrated with full-color paintings and distribution maps are also included. Closely related frogs are shown in identical poses so that comparisons can be made readily. The introductory section of the book covers frog biology and habitats and includes notes on families and genera.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the frogs of Australia. Frank Knight's artwork highlights this book!
5) Elrick, Krista. A Country No More: Rediscovering the Landscapes of John James Audubon. 2021. George F Thompson Publishing. Hardbound: 255 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The first artist to retrace the steps and revisit the landscapes of John James Audubon, from the East Coast, to the Gulf Coast, to the Heartland and Rocky Mountains.
In 2010, when photographer
Krista Elrick began traversing John James Audubon country in search of
the birds the nineteenth-century American naturalist observed, painted,
and wrote about, she encountered scarcely a sighting. Instead, she found
the lushly forested watersheds and waterways that Audubon had
passionately described in his journals vastly altered with many of the
bird species extinct and their supporting habitat all but disappeared.
Industrial buildings, parking lots, and strip malls had overtaken much
of the area, edging out the natural world. It was a country no more.
With a vintage Hasselblad film camera in hand, Elrick traveled more than 45,000 miles over ten years, following in the footsteps of Audubon as she sought clues to what had happened to these places and to the animals and peoples who once lived there. Starting at his home in Mill Grove near Philadelphia, she retraced Audubon’s many journeys to the bluffs of Cincinnati overlooking the Ohio River; to the key port town of Henderson, Kentucky; to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and the burgeoning frontier towns of Natchez in Mississippi and St. Francisville and New Orleans in Louisiana; then back east to Charleston in South Carolina and St. Augustine and Key West in Florida on the Atlantic Coast; and on to far West and the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers; and on a final journey to Audubon’s gravesite in the Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City. What a journey.
Audubon’s approach to painting birds was unique. He would kill however many birds he needed, brought them back to a studio or a room where he was lodging, constructed scenes with backdrops from a variety of locales, and rendered them in the paintings we revere today. Elrick responds to that approach by creating collages of her own, integrating the black-and-white images she made of the places Audubon and she traveled through with historic bank notes, period maps, and other ephemera that yield fascinating insights into the landscapes of Audubon today. And we see the changes and resulting effects on the natural world and its species as well as on the lives of the Native Americans and African Americans who once occupied the areas during Audubon’s day.
In her research Elrick also discovered—as his biographers have—that Audubon himself was something of an enigma, a fabulist who told enchanting yet often conflicting stories about his own history and identity and what he saw in the field. Elrick’s book offers us a fascinating compendium that gives us a fresh and provocative perspective on Audubon—the man and the artist—his times and enduring legacy.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in John James Audubon!
6) Anderson, Jay et al.. Peterson Field Guide to Weather. 2021. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paperback: 536 pages. Price: $27.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A field guide to the weather, including clouds, storm systems, and climate change.
A resource for those intrigued by events in the sky—clouds, precipitation, storms, aurora, halos—and for those who follow daily weather events. Using a nontechnical approach, the authors describe the flow of energy and moisture through global and local landscapes and how they evolve into day-to-day weather. For those fascinated by the sky’s colors and patterns, there are halos, rainbows, iridescent clouds, and other tapestries in the sky. For the cloud-watcher, common and unusual cloud forms are covered; for those entranced by storms, the guide includes severe thunderstorms, winter blizzards, hurricanes, hail, ice storms, and other challenges that the atmosphere inflicts. It even includes a chapter on weather in the atmospheres of the planets and the sun. More than 400 photographs illustrate visible weather, and diagrams explain the more challenging physical concepts. This book is designed for those who want to look up, marvel, and understand what they see.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the weather!
7)How to Survive in Medieval England. 2021. Pen and Sword History. Paperback: 159 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Imagine you were transported back in time to Medieval England and had to
start a new life there. Without mobile phones, ipads, internet, and
social media networks, when transport means walking or, if you’re
fortunate, horseback, how will you know where you are or what to do?
Where will you live? What is there to eat? What shall you wear? How can
you communicate when nobody speaks as you do and what about money? Who
can you go to if you fall ill or are mugged in the street? However can
you fit into and thrive in this strange environment full of odd people
who seem so different from you?
All these questions and many more are answered in this new guide book for time-travelers: How to Survive in Medieval England. A handy self-help guide with tips and suggestions to make your visit to the Middle Ages much more fun, this lively and engaging book will help the reader deal with the new experiences they may encounter and the problems that might occur. Know the laws so you don’t get into trouble or show your ignorance in an embarrassing faux pas.
Enjoy interviews with the celebrities of the day, from a business woman and a condemned felon, to a royal cook and King Richard III himself. Have a go at preparing medieval dishes and learn some new words to set the mood for your time-travelling adventure. Have an exciting visit but be sure to keep this book at hand.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in Medieval England!