Birdbooker Report 312-313

24 March 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. Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds: Second Edition. 2014. Knopf. Flexibound: 598 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The publication of The Sibley Guide to Birds in 2000 quickly established David Allen Sibley as the author and illustrator of the nation’s supreme and most comprehensive guide to birds. Used by millions of birders from novices to the most expert, The Sibley Guide became the standard by which natural history guides are measured. The highly anticipated second edition builds on this foundation of excellence, offering massively expanded and updated information, new paintings, new and rare species, and a new, elegant design.
    The second edition offers a wealth of improvements and updates:

    • All illustrations reproduced 15 to 20 percent larger for better detail.
    • Includes nearly 7,000 paintings digitally remastered from original art for enhanced print quality.
    • Expanded text includes habitat information and voice description for every species and more tips on finding birds in the field.
    • More than 600 new paintings, including illustrations of 115 rare species and additional paintings of common species and regional populations.
    • More than 700 updated maps of ranges, showing winter, summer, year-round, migration, and rare ranges.
    • 85 bird family pages now cross-referenced to species accounts.
    • Revised taxonomic order and most current common names for every species.

    The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition, brings the genius of David Allen Sibley to the world once again in a thoroughly updated and expanded volume that every birder must own.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: It has been noted that the main problems with this printing of the second edition are that the colors are too dark (especially the reds and browns) and the font is too light. If these problems are going to bother you, I suggest that you wait until the second printing is available to purchase this book.

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Phillipps, Quentin and Karen Phillipps. Phillipps' Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo: Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan (third edition). 2014. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 372 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is the fully revised and updated third edition of an acclaimed field guide to the birds of Borneo, covering Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan. The result is the most up-to-date, comprehensive, and user-friendly guide to the island's remarkably diverse birdlife. The book covers all 673 species living or reported on Borneo, including all 59 endemic species. Each species is superbly illustrated in 141 color plates containing more than 2,000 full-color bird images, which provide multiple large views of each species, including most of the sexual variants and immature forms of polymorphic species. Each plate is accompanied by facing-page species descriptions covering taxonomy, size, call, range, distribution, habits, and status. Distribution is also shown with 567 detailed color thumbnail maps on facing pages. Other features include seven habitat plates, twelve regional maps showing Borneo's top 90 birding sites, fast-find identification plates to the birds of Kinabalu and other habitats, and a full overview of Borneo's vegetation, climate, and ecology. This is a guide that any outdoor visitor to the island will treasure.
    This book features:

    • The most up-to-date, comprehensive, and user-friendly guide to the birds of Borneo
    • Features handy, facing-page format
    • Illustrates and describes all 673 species, including 59 endemics
    • Contains more than 2,000 superb full-color images, providing multiple large views of each species, and 567 color maps
    • Describes and maps Borneo's top 90 birding sites
    • Includes fast-find identification plates to the birds of Kinabalu and other habitats
    • Provides a full overview of Borneo's vegetation, climate, and ecology

    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the birds of the region.

  2. Swan, Ed. The Birds of Vashon Island: A Natural History of Habitat & Population Transformation (Second Edition). 2013. Constancy Press, LLC. Paperback: 328 pages. Price: $28.95 U.S.
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Vashon is a rural island of great bird habitat set in a sea of urban development. Its wind-swept beaches, thick stands of second-growth conifer and madrone forest, open farmland, and thickets are home to more than 250 different species of birds.
    Naturalist and author Ed Swan helps readers know more about the Island’s bird species and how and where to find them. He illuminates the connectedness of the birds to the condition of the land and water on which we all depend.
    First published in 2005, this book inspired Island residents and visitors to explore Vashon habitats and document and share their sightings of birds. Now, nearly a decade later, this new edition documents 15 additional species on the Vashon list. It includes updated and expanded species accounts, all-new color maps, dozens of color photos from some of the best nature photographers of the region. In addition, it includes:

    • Seasonal abundance charts for every species ever seen on Vashon
    • An updated site guide to all the best birding hot spots
    • A description of the habitat and history of this unique island jewel
    • A checklist of all the birds of Vashon, including every rarity ever spotted

    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the birds of the Puget Sound region of Washington State. This book is available here.

  3. Williams, Paul H., Robbin W. Thorp, Leif L. Richardson & Sheila R. Colla. Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide. 2014. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 208 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: More than ever before, there is widespread interest in studying bumble bees and the critical role they play in our ecosystems. Bumble Bees of North America is the first comprehensive guide to North American bumble bees to be published in more than a century. Richly illustrated with color photographs, diagrams, range maps, and graphs of seasonal activity patterns, this guide allows amateur and professional naturalists to identify all 46 bumble bee species found north of Mexico and to understand their ecology and changing geographic distributions.
    The book draws on the latest molecular research, shows the enormous color variation within species, and guides readers through the many confusing convergences between species. It draws on a large repository of data from museum collections and presents state-of-the-art results on evolutionary relationships, distributions, and ecological roles. Illustrated keys allow identification of color morphs and social castes.
    A landmark publication, Bumble Bees of North America sets the standard for guides and the study of these important insects.
    This book features:

    • The best guide yet to the 46 recognized bumble bee species in North America north of Mexico
    • Up-to-date taxonomy includes previously unpublished results
    • Detailed distribution maps
    • Extensive keys identify the many color patterns of species

    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in these insects.

  4. Strycker, Noah. The Thing With Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human. 2014. Penguin/Riverhead Books. Hardbound: 304 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As scientists come to understand more about the secrets of bird life, they are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.
    The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatross, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.
    Noah Strycker is a birder and naturalist who has traveled the world in pursuit of his flighty subjects. Drawing deep from personal experience, cutting-edge science, and colorful history, he spins captivating stories about the birds in our midst and reveals the startlingly intimate coexistence of birds and humans. With humor, style, and grace, he shows how our view of the world is often, and remarkably, through the experience of birds.
    Beautiful and wise, funny and insightful, The Thing with Feathers is a gripping and enlightening journey into the lives of birds.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's first book, Among Penguins, you should enjoy this book.
  5. Church, George and Ed Regis. Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves. 2014. Basic Books. Paperback: 294 pages. Price: $19.99 U.S. [Amazon UK/kindle UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In Regenesis, Harvard biologist George Church and science writer Ed Regis explore the possibilities -- and perils -- of the emerging field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology, in which living organisms are selectively altered by modifying substantial portions of their genomes, allows for the creation of entirely new species of organisms. These technologies—far from the out-of-control nightmare depicted in science fiction—have the power to improve human and animal health, increase our intelligence, enhance our memory, and even extend our life span. A breathtaking look at the potential of this world-changing technology, Regenesis is nothing less than a guide to the future of life.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A general overview of the subject.
  6. Martin, Anthony J. Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed By Their Trace Fossils. 2014. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 460 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: What if we woke up one morning and all of the dinosaur bones in the world were gone? How would we know these iconic animals had a 165-million year history on earth, and had adapted to all land-based environments from pole to pole? What clues would be left to discern not only their presence, but also to learn about their sex lives, raising of young, social lives, combat, and who ate who? What would it take for us to know how fast dinosaurs moved, whether they lived underground, climbed trees, or went for a swim?
    Welcome to the world of ichnology, the study of traces and trace fossils -- such as tracks, trails, burrows, nests, toothmarks, and other vestiges of behavior -- and how through these remarkable clues, we can explore and intuit the rich and complicated lives of dinosaurs. With a unique, detective-like approach, interpreting the forensic clues of these long-extinct animals that leave a much richer legacy than bones, Martin brings the wild world of the Mesozoic to life for the twenty-first century reader.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: An interesting introduction to the topic of ichnology.

Children's Books:

  1. Loxton, Daniel. Plesiosaur Peril. 2014. Kids Can Press. Hardbound: 32 pages. Price: $16.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In the Tales of Prehistoric Life series, award-winning author and illustrator Daniel Loxton uses stunningly realistic, state-of-the-art, computer-generated images to vividly re-create the undersea world of the Jurassic period. Featured here are creatures called plesiosaurs, marine reptiles distantly related to land-based dinosaurs. We follow the tale of a baby Cryptoclidus, a type of plesiosaur, whose curiosity about her new world in the ocean leads her to wander away from her mother and the rest of her protective pod. As the baby happily explores and plays, she is suddenly confronted by an enormous Liopleurodon, a predatory and much larger plesiosaur. In a highly dramatic scene, the baby, with the help of the rest of her pod, makes a narrow escape from becoming the Liopleurodon's dinner.
    The exciting adventure story and high-impact digital illustrations, each covering a two-page spread, will captivate children of this age, particularly boys, who are huge fans of prehistoric animals. But the book is also a terrific source of factual scientific information about the lives of plesiosaurs, their ocean habitat, the ocean's other inhabitants and the ways these creatures interacted with each other. As a special bonus, there is an information page describing these plesiosaurs at the back of the book. With its photo-realistic illustrations, this book would make an excellent resource for life science lessons on prehistoric animals and their environments, evolution and how modern scientists use their discoveries to make deductions about the animals of the distant past.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: For ages 4 to 7. If you enjoyed the author's other titles in this series (Ankylosaur Attack and Pterosaur Trouble), you should enjoy this book.

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

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