Birdbooker Report 330-1

28 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. Callahan, David (edited by Dominic Mitchell). A History of Birdwatching in 100 Objects. 2014. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 222 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This book looks at 100 items that have profoundly shaped how people watched, studied and engaged with the avian world. Each item contains around 500 words on a double-page spread and include an illustration of the object in question. The book includes the objects listed below as well as many more.The range of items is international and cross-cultural. Subjects include:

    • An Egyptian 'field guide' [early tomb decorations of birds, identifiable as species]
    • Ornithologiae libri tres: the first British bird guide [a 1676 publication that attempted to itemise all British birds known at the time]
    • The Dodo specimen held at the Horniman museum
    • Systema Naturae by Carl Linnaeus [the first-ever system of scientific names in 1758, and still the international standard today]
    • The shotgun
    • The book, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White [1789]
    • HMS Beagle [the ship on which Darwin made his ground-breaking discoveries]
    • Aluminium bird rings [used to record movement and longevity of individuals and species]

    along with many more modern innovations including walkie talkies, pagers, radio tags and apps.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: Birders with an interest in the history of birding will want this book.

  2. Self, Andrew. The Birds of London. 2014. Helm/Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 432 pages. Price: $86.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The parks, reservoirs, rooftops and gardens of London – here defined as the area within 20 miles of St Paul’s Cathedral – have a surprisingly rich avifauna, including a healthy population of one of Britain’s rarest breeders, the Black Redstart. The region also has a remarkable list of rarities – in recent years Canary Wharf has proven to be a magnet for vagrants, while one of the very few British records of Tengmalm’s Owl hails from Plaistow – an unfortunate bird stoned to death by local urchins in 1877.
    Some species, like the Peregrine Falcon, Black-headed Gull and Ring-necked Parakeet, have seen their fortunes soar over recent decades; others, such as House Sparrow, have suffered a population collapse. While as recently as a century ago, the London area had breeding populations of birds such as Wryneck and Red-backed Shrike, which are now nationally extinct. The status, distribution and history of every species on the regional list is discussed in rich detail in this book, the first comprehensive avifauna for the London area ever published.
    The County Avifauna series provides detailed information on the range and status of bird species at county level. Areas covered in the series so far include Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorset, the Shetland Islands, Leicestershire and Rutland, Essex and Gwent. Each title covers all species on the county list, with a breakdown of rarity records, and there are introductory sections describing the area’s ecology, its ornithological history, as well as a review of the best sites to visit.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with a serious interest in the birds of London.
  3. Stallcup, Rich and Jules Evens. Field Guide to Birds of the Northern California Coast. 2014. University of California Press. Hardbound: 294 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Northern California coast -- from Monterey County to the Oregon border -- is home to some of the richest avian habitats on the North American continent. Field Guide to Birds of the Northern California Coast provides a comprehensive ecological overview of this extensive and diverse region. It features detailed discussions of the area's most common waterbirds, raptors, and landbirds and highlights the most productive birding sites in each Northern California coastal county.
    Accessibly written and user-friendly, this guide contains nearly 250 species accounts that focus on seasonal rhythms and behavioral characteristics of each species. More than 130 color photographs and hand-drawn sketches depict the birds in context, and maps and occurrence charts indicate when readers might spot each species.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: This guide is a regional supplement to standard field guides.
  4. Newman, Doug. 500 Common Bird Calls in Southern Africa. 2013. Struik Nature. Paperback (with CD): 176 pages. Price: $23.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The book gives a brief account for each species, including description of song, associated behavior, similar-sounding species, favored habitat, and a distribution map. The introduction discusses bird vocalizations, differences between true songbirds and non-songbirds and why calls often change with the seasons and time of day.
    The CD gives the song or distinctive call of each species. Have hours of fun delving into the endlessly fascinating language of birds with this concise guide.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: Birders to the region should find this book useful.
  5. Newman, Doug and Gordon King. Southern African Mammals Made Simple. 2013. Struik Nature. Paperback: 104 pages. Price: $18.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Southern African Mammals Made Simple is an exciting new mammal identification guide that uses a novel 3-stage ID system to identify even the most obscure mammals.
    For each of the 115 species, there is a photograph and drawing highlighting the animal’s distinctive features, a description and a distribution map. An easy-to-use and foolproof ID guide, it is ideal for anyone with an interest in southern African mammals.
    Ingenious, easy-to-use and virtually foolproof, it offers step-by-step progress towards sure identification. Written in a concise, structured format, it is ideal for taking on trips to the game reserve, and for novices right through to more experienced naturalists.
    Excellent for use in game parks or just to demystify similar-looking mammal species.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the mammals of Southern Africa.
  6. Warren, Melvin L. Jr., and Brooks M. Burr (editors). Freshwater Fishes of North America: Volume 1: Petromyzontidae to Catostomidae. 2014. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 644 pages. Price: $100.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Certain to stand among the reference books of choice for anyone interested in the continent’s aquatic ecosystems, Freshwater Fishes of North America covers the ecology, morphology, reproduction, distribution, behavior, taxonomy, conservation, and fossil record of each North American fish family.
    Volume 1 (of three) covers the following North American families of fishes:

    • Petromyzontidae (Lampreys)
    • Dasyatidae (Whiptail Stingrays)
    • Acipenseridae (Sturgeons)
    • Polyodontidae (Paddlefishes)
    • Lepisosteidae (Gars)
    • Amiidae (Bowfins)
    • Hiodontidae (Mooneyes)
    • Anguillidae (Freshwater Eels)
    • Engraulidae (Anchovies)
    • Cyprinidae (Carps and Minnows)
    • Catostomidae (Suckers)

    The encyclopedic review of each fish family is accompanied by color photographs, maps, and original artwork created by noted fish illustrator Joseph R. Tomelleri. The result is a rich textual and visual experience. Widely anticipated, this monumental reference is the result of decades of analysis and synthesis by leading fish experts from a variety of universities, research laboratories, museums, and aquariums.

  7. Howell, Steve N.G.. The Amazing World of Flyingfish. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 45 pages. Price: $12.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: If you travel the open ocean anywhere in the tropics, you are very likely to see flyingfish. These beautifully colored “ocean butterflies” shoot out of the water and sail on majestic, winglike pectoral fins to escape from predators such as dolphins, swordfish, and tuna. Some can travel for more than six hundred feet per flight. Yet despite their prevalence in warm ocean waters and their vital role in the tropical food chain, surprisingly little is known about flyingfish—more than 60 species are said to exist, but nobody is sure of the number. This beautifully illustrated book presents flyingfish as you’ve never seen them before. It features more than 90 stunning color photos by renowned naturalist Steve Howell, as well as a concise and accessible text that explores the natural history of flyingfish, where they can be found, how and why they fly, what colors they are, what they eat and what eats them, and more.
    The ideal gift for fish lovers, seasoned travelers, and armchair naturalists alike, this first-of-its-kind book provides a rare and incomparable look at these spectacular marine creatures.
    This book features:

    • Presents flyingfish like you’ve never seen them before
    • Features more than 90 stunning color images
    • Explores the natural history of flyingfish, where to see them, how they fly, and more
    • The ideal gift book for fish lovers, ecotravelers, birders, and armchair naturalists

    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: The photography is the highlight of this book.

  8. Spellenberg, Richard, Christopher J. Earle & Gil Nelson. Trees of Eastern/Western North America. 2014. Princeton University Press. Flexibound: 720 pages (Eastern), 560 pages (Western). Price: $29.95 U.S. each. [(Eastern): Amazon UK; Amazon US; (Western): Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Covering 825 species, more than any comparable field guide, Trees of Eastern North America is the most comprehensive, best illustrated, and easiest-to-use book of its kind. Presenting all the native and naturalized trees of the eastern United States and Canada as far west as the Great Plains--including those species found only in tropical and subtropical Florida and northernmost Canada--the book features superior descriptions; thousands of meticulous color paintings by David More that illustrate important visual details; range maps that provide a thumbnail view of distribution for each native species; “Quick ID” summaries; a user-friendly layout; scientific and common names; the latest taxonomy; information on the most recently naturalized species; keys to leaves and twigs; and an introduction to tree identification, forest ecology, and plant classification and structure. The easy-to-read descriptions present details of size, shape, growth habit, bark, leaves, flowers, fruit, flowering and fruiting times, habitat, and range. Using a broad definition of a tree, the book covers many small, overlooked species normally thought of as shrubs. With its unmatched combination of breadth and depth, this is an essential guide for every tree lover.
    This book features:

    • The most comprehensive, best illustrated, and easiest-to-use field guide to the trees of eastern North America
    • Covers 825 species, more than any comparable guide, including all the native and naturalized trees of the United States and Canada as far west as the Great Plains
    • Features specially commissioned artwork, detailed descriptions, range maps for native species, up-to-date taxonomy and names, and much, much more
    • An essential guide for every tree lover
  9. Covering 630 species, more than any comparable field guide, Trees of Western North America is the most comprehensive, best illustrated, and easiest-to-use book of its kind. Presenting all the native and naturalized trees of the western United States and Canada as far east as the Great Plains, the book features superior descriptions; thousands of meticulous color paintings by David More that illustrate important visual details; range maps that provide a thumbnail view of distribution for each native species; “Quick ID” summaries; a user-friendly layout; scientific and common names; the latest taxonomy; information on the most recently naturalized species; a key to leaves; and an introduction to tree identification, forest ecology, and plant classification and structure. The easy-to-read descriptions present details of size, shape, growth habit, bark, leaves, flowers, fruit, flowering and fruiting times, habitat, and range. Using a broad definition of a tree, the book covers many small, overlooked species normally thought of as shrubs, as well as treelike forms of cacti and yuccas. With its unmatched combination of breadth and depth, this is an essential guide for every tree lover. This book features:

    • The most comprehensive, best illustrated, and easiest-to-use field guide to the trees of western North America
    • Covers 630 species, more than any comparable guide, including all the native and naturalized trees of the United States and Canada as far east as the Great Plains
    • Features specially commissioned artwork, detailed descriptions, range maps for native species, up-to-date taxonomy and names, and much, much more
    • An essential guide for every tree lover

    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: These guides are well illustrated and will be very useful for those with an interest in trees.

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

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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