Birdbooker Report 307-308

17 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. This week's titles include; Rare Birds of North America, Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin, Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record and Mammoths and Mastodons of the Ice Age.


“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.

For those who keep track of such things, today is the 6th anniversary of the Birdbooker Report.

Featured Title:

  1. Howell, Steve N.G., Ian Lewington and Will Russell. Rare Birds of North America. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 428 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US; kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Rare Birds of North America is the first comprehensive illustrated guide to the vagrant birds that occur throughout the United States and Canada. Featuring 275 stunning color plates, this book covers 262 species originating from three very different regions--the Old World, the New World tropics, and the world's oceans. It explains the causes of avian vagrancy and breaks down patterns of occurrence by region and season, enabling readers to see where, when, and why each species occurs in North America. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, taxonomy, age, sex, distribution, and status.
    Rare Birds of North America provides unparalleled insights into vagrancy and avian migration, and will enrich the birding experience of anyone interested in finding and observing rare birds. This book features:

    • Covers 262 species of vagrant birds found in the United States and Canada
    • Features 275 stunning color plates that depict every species
    • Explains patterns of occurrence by region and season
    • Provides an invaluable overview of vagrancy patterns and migration
    • Includes detailed species accounts and cutting-edge identification tips

    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all serious birders in North America!

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Birkhead, Tim, Jo Wimpenny, and Bob Montgomerie. Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 524 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US, kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Ten Thousand Birds provides a thoroughly engaging and authoritative history of modern ornithology, tracing how the study of birds has been shaped by a succession of visionary and often-controversial personalities, and by the unique social and scientific contexts in which these extraordinary individuals worked. This beautifully illustrated book opens in the middle of the nineteenth century when ornithology was a museum-based discipline focused almost exclusively on the anatomy, taxonomy, and classification of dead birds. It describes how in the early 1900s pioneering individuals such as Erwin Stresemann, Ernst Mayr, and Julian Huxley recognized the importance of studying live birds in the field, and how this shift thrust ornithology into the mainstream of the biological sciences. The book tells the stories of eccentrics like Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, a pathological liar who stole specimens from museums and quite likely murdered his wife, and describes the breathtaking insights and discoveries of ambitious and influential figures such as David Lack, Niko Tinbergen, Robert MacArthur, and others who through their studies of birds transformed entire fields of biology.
    Ten Thousand Birds brings this history vividly to life through the work and achievements of those who advanced the field. Drawing on a wealth of archival material and in-depth interviews, this fascinating book reveals how research on birds has contributed more to our understanding of animal biology than the study of just about any other group of organisms.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in ornithological history.
  2. Fuller, Errol. Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US, kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A photograph of an extinct animal evokes a greater feeling of loss than any painting ever could. Often black and white or tinted sepia, these remarkable images have been taken mainly in zoos or wildlife parks, and in some cases depict the last known individual of the species. Lost Animals is a unique photographic record of extinction, presented by a world authority on vanished animals. Richly illustrated throughout, this handsome book features photographs dating from around 1870 to as recently as 2004, the year that witnessed the demise of the Hawaiian Po'ouli. From a mother Thylacine and her pups to birds such as the Heath Hen and the Carolina Parakeet, Errol Fuller tells the story of each animal, explains why it became extinct, and discusses the circumstances surrounding the photography.
    Covering 28 extinct species, Lost Animals includes familiar examples like the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha, and one of the last Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, photographed as it peers quizzically at the hat of one of the biologists who has just ringed it. But the book includes rare images as well, many never before published. Collected together here for the first time, these photographs provide a tangible link to animals that have now vanished forever, in a book that brings the past to life while delivering a warning for the future.
    Poignant and compelling, Lost Animals also includes a concise introduction that looks at the earliest days of animal photography, and an appendix of drawings and paintings of the species covered.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in extinct animals or enjoys Fuller's works.
  3. Lister, Adrian. Mammoths and Mastodons of the Ice Age. 2014. Firefly Books. Hardbound: 128 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Featuring stunning photographs of skeletons, casts, tusks and preserved flesh from the world-famous collections of the Natural History Museum in London and Chicago's Field Museum (home to the most complete and best preserved mammoth baby), this book reveals what life was like for these prehistoric giants whose remains invite so much modern fascination and speculation.
    From 1.8 million to 10,000 years ago as global temperatures cooled, colossal mammals were an imposing presence on the Pleistocene landscape, roaming alongside humans across great swaths of Europe, Asia, and much of North America. Mammoths and Mastodons of the Ice Age explains the differences between these animals, describes their habitats and behaviors, and introduces other amazing creatures from the Ice Age, such as the saber-toothed cat, giant sloth, cave bear and dire wolf.
    Drawing on current scientific research, including recently revealed DNA analysis that shows the real color of mammoths, Adrian Lister explores how hunters stalked the elephantine prey, why they died out and whether it's possible to clone them today. He also examines what wild elephants (their surviving cousins) tell us about their extinct ancestors and how the natural and human-caused challenges elephants face today may doom them to the same fate.
    Mammoths and Mastodons of the Ice Age is a tie-in with the traveling museum exhibition "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age," which opened in Chicago in 2010, and will tour through 2016. The similarly named 3D film has received rave reviews and undoubtedly will become a popular big-screen event, once the museum exhibition closes.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction to the topic.

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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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