Birdbooker Report 328-9

13 July 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.

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Dunn, Euan. RSPB Spotlight: Puffins. 2014. Bloomsbury. Paperback: 128 pages. Price: $17.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Enduringly popular, Puffins are perhaps our most iconic species of bird, and are the most immediately identifiable of seabirds with their decorative bills and clown-like gait. Yet when they take to the air they wheel and turn with great agility and underwater these stocky little birds use short specially adapted wings to propel themselves through the water in pursuit of small fish. Surprisingly little was known about Puffin ecology until recently thanks to their preferred breeding habitat being underground on remote islands or hard-to-reach coastlines. Now Euan Dunn discloses all we have learnt about them as a result of technological advances, and provides a revealing account of their life cycle, behaviour and breeding, what they eat, how they interact in their busy colonies, and where they migrate to in winter. Euan also exposes the mounting threats Puffins face and offers advice on the best places to see them. Each Spotlight title is carefully designed to introduce readers to the lives and behaviour of our favourite birds and mammals.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the species.
  2. Horwitz, Joshua. War of the Whales: A True Story. 2014. Simon and Schuster. Hardbound: 426 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US/Audible US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: War of the Whales is the gripping tale of a crusading attorney who stumbles on one of the US Navy’s best-kept secrets: a submarine detection system that floods entire ocean basins with high-intensity sound -- and drives whales onto beaches. As Joel Reynolds launches a legal fight to expose and challenge the Navy program, marine biologist Ken Balcomb witnesses a mysterious mass stranding of whales near his research station in the Bahamas. Investigating this calamity, Balcomb is forced to choose between his conscience and an oath of secrecy he swore to the Navy in his youth.
    When Balcomb and Reynolds team up to expose the truth behind an epidemic of mass strandings, the stage is set for an epic battle that pits admirals against activists, rogue submarines against weaponized dolphins, and national security against the need to safeguard the ocean environment. Waged in secret military labs and the nation’s highest court, War of the Whales is a real-life thriller that combines the best of legal drama, natural history, and military intrigue.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the sonar vs. whales debate.
  3. Levi-Setti, Riccardo. The Trilobite Book: A Visual Journey. 2014. The University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 273 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Distant relatives of modern lobsters, horseshoe crabs, and spiders, trilobites swam the planet’s prehistoric seas for 300 million years, from the Lower Cambrian to the end of the Permian eras -- and they did so very capably. Trilobite fossils have been unearthed on every continent, with more than 20,000 species identified by science. One of the most arresting animals of our pre-dinosaur world, trilobites are also favorites among the fossil collectors of today, their crystalline eyes often the catalyst for a lifetime of paleontological devotion. And there is no collector more devoted -- or more venerated -- than Riccardo Levi-Setti. With The Trilobite Book, a much anticipated follow-up to his classic Trilobites, Levi-Setti brings us a glorious and revealing guide to these surreal arthropods of ancient Earth.
    Featuring specimens from Bohemia to Newfoundland, California to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, and Wales to the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Levi-Setti’s magnificent book reanimates these “butterflies of the seas” in 235 astonishing full-color photographs. All original, Levi-Setti’s images serve as the jumping-off point for tales of his global quests in search of these highly sought-after fossils; for discussions of their mineralogical origins, as revealed by their color; and for unraveling the role of the now-extinct trilobites in our planetary history.
    Sure to enthrall paleontologists with its scientific insights and amateur enthusiasts with its beautiful and informative images, The Trilobite Book combines the best of science, technology, aesthetics, and personal adventure. It will inspire new collectors for eras to come.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the trilobites.
  4. Smith, James P. Jr. Field Guide to Grasses of California. 2014. University of California Press. Paperback: 437 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Grasses and grasslands are of increasing interest to conservationists, biologists, and gardeners. There are more than 300 species of native California grasses and they are found in almost every climate -- from cool, wet forests to hot, dry deserts. Native grasses are also important to land restoration as they improve soil quality, increase water infiltration, and recycle nutrients. Their deep roots can tap soil water, which allows them to stay green year-round and to act as fire buffers around residences. Native grasses also provide vital habitat for many species of insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals. Despite their importance, grasslands remain one of the most underprotected of California's vegetation types, and native grasslands have undergone the greatest percentage loss of any habitat type in the state. Grasses are also among the most difficult plants to identify. Organized alphabetically, Field Guide to Grasses of California covers common native and naturalized grasses and, to help identify them, also features over 180 color illustrations.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A useful guide to the grasses of the region.

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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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