Birdbooker Report 305 & 306

3 February 2014 by GrrlScientist, posted in Birdbooker Report

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts.


“Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin.
Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.)

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.

~ Arnold Lobel [1933-1987] author of many popular children's books.

Compiled by Ian "Birdbooker" Paulsen, the Birdbooker Report is a weekly report that has been published online for years, listing the wide variety of nature, natural history, ecology, animal behaviour, science and history books that have been newly released or republished in North America and in the UK. The books listed here were received by Ian during the previous week, courtesy of various publishing houses.

Featured Title:

  1. Mikkola, Heimo. Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide (Second Edition). 2014. Firefly Books. Hardbound: 528 pages. Price: $49.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Owls of the World, second edition, is the ultimate photographic resource dedicated to the identification of these charismatic birds of prey. The new edition is packed with spectacular photography of 268 species of owls from all over the world -- 19 more species than the original book. Many of the photos are of highly elusive species that are very rarely caught on camera.
    The photos are accompanied by detailed text describing:

    • Identification notes
    • Habitat
    • Population status
    • Voice
    • Food
    • Distribution
    • Accurate range maps
    • Similar species

    The photographic coverage includes plumages and subspecies which promotes differentiation between species, making this the definitive work on owl identification. Similar-looking ("confusion") species are included and owls are shown as adults from a perspective that clearly shows markings that assist in identification.
    For birders, naturalists, photographers, researchers and any fan of these birds, Owls of the World is the definitive work on species identification as well as a comprehensive encyclopedia for reference and reading.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: The page count has increased from 512 to 528. As with the first edition, the taxonomy in this book basically follows Owls of the World (2nd edition) by Konig et al. (2008). That book is prone to splitting up species (e.g. the Barn Owl, Tyto alba) into separate species. This taxonomy is at odds with other published sources. Also, some of the range maps of North American species still need to be reworked. I still recommend this book for those with a serious interest in owls.

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Toms, Mike. Owls. William Collins. Paperback: 419 pages. Price: £35.00 (about $34.36 U.S.). [Amazon UK; Amazon US, kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Owls have been a source of inspiration to writers, artists, historians and naturalists alike. In a much-anticipated volume on one of Britain’s most fascinating group of birds, Mike Toms draws on a wealth of experience and research, providing a comprehensive natural history of British owls.
    The first part of the book covers various aspects of owl taxonomy, origins, anatomy, behaviour and ecology and looks across the British owl species, drawing comparisons and highlighting differences. The second part takes each species in turn to provide a more detailed perspective, fleshing out relevant conservation issues, behaviour and status.
    Toms explores Britain’s beloved Barn Owl, Tawny Owl and Snowy Owl amongst several others. He uses the vast database and latest research from his work with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to focus particularly on the specifics of owls’ breeding ecology, their dispersal patterns, diet, vocalisations, description, population changes and mortality. He addresses conservation issues, changes in legislation and potential changes in the status of one of Britain’s most iconic birds, providing a fascinating overview of the biology and history of British owls.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in British owls or collect the New Naturalist series.
  2. Flannery, Tim. An Explorer's Notebook. 2014. Atlantic Monthly Press. Hardbound: 321 pages. Price: $26.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Best known today for The Weather Makers, his #1 international bestseller, Tim Flannery is one of the world’s most influential scientists, a foremost expert on climate change credited with discovering more species than Charles Darwin. But Flannery didn’t come to his knowledge overnight. With its selection of exhilarating essays and articles written over the past twenty-five years, An Explorer’s Notebook charts the evolution of a young scientist doing fieldwork in remote locations to the major thinker who has changed the way we understand global warming.
    In over thirty pieces, Flannery writes about his journeys in the jungles of New Guinea and Indonesia and about the extraordinary people he met and the species he discovered. He writes about matters as wide-ranging as love, insects, population, water, and the stresses we put on the environment. He shows us how we can better predict our future by understanding the profound history of life on Earth. And he chronicles the seismic shift in the world’s attitude toward climate change. An Explorer’s Notebook is classic Flannery—wide-ranging, eye-opening science, conveyed with richly detailed storytelling.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: Fans of the author's other writings should enjoy this book.
  3. Adams, R.J. and Tim D. Manolis. Field Guide to the Spiders of California and the Pacific Coast States. 2014. University of California Press. Paperback: 305 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US, kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: With over 40,000 described species, spiders have adapted to nearly every terrestrial environment across the globe. Over half of the world’s spider families live within the three contiguous Pacific Coast states—not surprising considering the wide variety of habitats, from mountain meadows and desert dunes to redwood forests and massive urban centers. This beautifully illustrated, accessible guide covers all of the families and many of the genera found along the Pacific Coast, including introduced species and common garden spiders. The author provides readers with tools for identifying many of the region’s spiders to family, and when possible, genus and species. He discusses taxonomy, distribution, and natural history as well as what is known of the habits of the spiders, the characters of families, and references to taxonomic revisions of the pertinent genera. Full-color plates for each family bring to life the incredible diversity of this ancient arachnid order.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in West Coast spiders.

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Ian "Birdbooker" Paulsen is an avid book collector who is especially well-known to the publishing world. Mr Paulsen collects newly-published books about nature, animals and birds, science, and history, and he also collects children's books on these topics. Mr Paulsen writes brief synopses about these books on his website, The Birdbooker Report.

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