Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Title



1) Ryan, Peter. Guide to Seabirds of Southern Africa. 2017. Struik Nature. Paperback: 160 pages. Price: $14.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A field guide to the seabirds that occur around the southern African coastline. Written by a specialist in the field of seabirds, the book focuses on the ID and behaviour of 135 species of seabird commonly seen around the coast and in the seas of the region. The text is supported with photographs (multiple images per bird where available) and distribution maps for all species. • An essential ID guide to all southern African seabird species. • Expert author, Peter Ryan – Director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute. • Outstanding photographs vividly showcase each species • Introductory text covers species, origins, feeding, breeding and conservation.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in Southern African seabirds.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Title



1) Chandler, David. RSPB Spotlight Kingfishers. 2017. Bloomsbury. Paperback: 128 pages. Price: $18.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Usually observed as a flash of blue and orange from a riverbank, most people are aware of Kingfishers, but few of us are familiar with the intricacies of their day-to-day lives.
    With their long, dagger-like bills, bright blue plumage and characteristic fast, low flight over water, Common Kingfishers are instantly recognizable thanks to a massive range that stretches from Ireland, across Europe, North Africa and Asia as far as Australasia. The 90 or so species that belong to this colorful family have a cosmopolitan distribution and, in Spotlight Kingfishers, David Chandler celebrates their remarkable existence, studying their unique adaptations--including their ability to see prey under water--and examines their courtship, breeding and feeding habits. David investigates historical threats to Kingfisher populations, considers their future, and offers practical advice on how to find and see these glorious birds.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in the Common Kingfisher.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

New Titles



1) James, Matthew. Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin. 2017. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 284 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In 1905, eight men from the California Academy of Sciences set sail from San Francisco for a scientific collection expedition in the Galapagos Islands, and by the time they were finished in 1906, they had completed one of the most important expeditions in the history of both evolutionary and conservation science. These scientists collected over 78,000 specimens during their time on the islands, validating the work of Charles Darwin and laying the groundwork for foundational evolution texts like Darwin's Finches. Despite its significance, almost nothing has been written on this voyage, lost amongst discussion of Darwin's trip on the Beagle and the writing of David Lack.
     In Collecting Evolution, author Matthew James finally tells the story of the 1905 Galapagos expedition. James follows these eight young men aboard the Academy to the Galapagos and back, and reveals the reasons behind the groundbreaking success they had. A current Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, James uses his access to unpublished writings and photographs to provide unprecedented insight into the expedition. We learn the voyagers' personal stories, and how, for all the scientific progress that was made, just as much intense personal drama unfolded on the trip. This book shares a watershed moment in scientific history, crossed with a maritime adventure. There are four tangential suicides and controversies over credit and fame. Collecting Evolution also explores the personal lives and scientific context that preceded this voyage, including what brought Darwin to the Galapagos on the Beagle voyage seventy years earlier. James discusses how these men thought of themselves as "collectors" before they thought of themselves as scientists, and the implications this had on their approach and their results.
     In the end, the voyage of the Academy proved to be crucial in the development of evolutionary science as we know it. It is the longest expedition in Galapagos history, and played a critical role in cementing Darwin's legacy. Collecting Evolution brings this extraordinary story of eight scientists and their journey to life.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in the history of scientific exploration.


2) Smalley, Andrea L.. Wild by Nature: North American Animals Confront Colonization. 2017.  Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 334 pages. Price: $49.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the time Europeans first came to the New World until the closing of the frontier, the benefits of abundant wild animals―from beavers and wolves to fish, deer, and bison―appeared as a recurring theme in colonizing discourses. Explorers, travelers, surveyors, naturalists, and other promoters routinely advertised the richness of the American faunal environment and speculated about the ways in which animals could be made to serve their colonial projects. In practice, however, American animals proved far less malleable to colonizers’ designs. Their behaviors constrained an English colonial vision of a reinvented and rationalized American landscape.
     In Wild by Nature, Andrea L. Smalley argues that Anglo-American authorities’ unceasing efforts to convert indigenous beasts into colonized creatures frequently produced unsettling results that threatened colonizers’ control over the land and the people. Not simply acted upon by being commodified, harvested, and exterminated, wild animals were active subjects in the colonial story, altering its outcome in unanticipated ways. These creatures became legal actors―subjects of statutes, issues in court cases, and parties to treaties―in a centuries-long colonizing process that was reenacted on successive wild animal frontiers.
     Following a trail of human–animal encounters from the seventeenth-century Chesapeake to the Civil War–era southern plains, Smalley shows how wild beasts and their human pursuers repeatedly transgressed the lines lawmakers drew to demarcate colonial sovereignty and control, confounding attempts to enclose both people and animals inside a legal frame. She also explores how, to possess the land, colonizers had to find new ways to contain animals without destroying the wildness that made those creatures valuable to English settler societies in the first place. Offering fresh perspectives on colonial, legal, environmental, and Native American history, Wild by Nature reenvisions the familiar stories of early America as animal tales.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in American environmental history.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

New Title


1) Gregory, Phil. Birds of New Guinea: Including Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville. 2017.  Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 464 pages. Price: $85.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is the first field guide to cover the entire New Guinea region, comprising Indonesian West Papua (including the West Papuan Islands, Geelvink Bay Islands and Aru Islands) and Papua New Guinea and its associated islands, the Bismarcks and Bougainville. All of the 943 species known to occur are covered, including the extraordinarily high total of 456 endemics, as well as 5 introduced species, 2 species yet to be formally described and a separate appendix with 75 vagrants. Subspecies are listed also to give a comprehensive overview of the remarkable regional avifauna.New Guinea is the second largest island in the world and many of its ecosystems are as yet relatively intact. There are 7 endemic families, and the region is the major centre of diversity for pigeons and doves, kingfishers, parrots, honeyeaters and birds of paradise, with an astonishing diversity and morphological variation and including some of the most sought-after species in the world.
     The author has over 25 years experience in the region, living there for some 7 years and travelling widely on birding and research trips, which has given him valuable experience and insight into the avifauna that he has shared with hundreds of people over the years. The artists from Lynx Edicions have worked on many new and revised plates, which give an excellent visual coverage of the avifauna, with over 1780 illustrations. The taxonomy is up-to-date and the distribution maps have been carefully prepared and revised, whilst field identification and vocalizations are a major interest and should make this book an essential and compact reference companion to anyone birding in the region.
RECOMMENDATION: It's a little thinner and a bit heavier than the Pratt and Beehler guide.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

New Title


1) Ellis, Richard and James G. Mead. Beaked Whales: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Conservation. 2017. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 194 pages. Price: $79.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Beaked whales have been shrouded in mystery for most of the twentieth century. Denizens of deep, remote ocean waters and highly resistant to life in captivity, they have proven notoriously difficult for humans to observe. Over the past few decades, however, scientists have gained a better understanding of this distinct group of cetaceans, deciphering the natural history of the twenty-two beaked whale species. Here, famed artist and naturalist Richard Ellis and leading beaked whale researcher James G. Mead bring these elusive marine mammals into the limelight.
     Beaked whales’ generous life spans can extend well past 70 years. They spend their decades diving to extreme depths in search of prey, which they capture by expanding their oral cavity suddenly to suck in the squid or fish they are hunting. It appears that these sleek predators may engage in fierce, clandestine aquatic battles, as the bodies of many males are covered in scars. Because many species are only somewhat larger than dolphins, they are often confused with porpoises; however, some larger beaked whale species may grow to 40 feet. These enigmatic and compelling creatures need our help; their numbers are declining, perhaps due to the damaging effects of naval sonar on their sophisticated auditory systems.
     In Ellis and Mead’s book, the beaked whales finally get their due. The duo provides a combination of captivating stories about the species, original Richard Ellis art, and photos from leading natural history photographers. The result is an accessible, beautiful book―the first of its kind on this unusual group of cetaceans. Meet the beaked whales, and enjoy the fascinating and mysterious world in which they live.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in beaked whales.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Title


1) Glassberg, Jeffrey. A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America. 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 420 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A thoroughly revised edition of the most comprehensive and authoritative photographic field guide to North American butterflies.
      This is a revised second edition of the most detailed, comprehensive, and user-friendly photographic field guide to the butterflies of North America. Written by Jeffrey Glassberg, the pioneering authority on the field identification of butterflies, the guide covers all known species, beautifully illustrating them with 3,500 large, gorgeous color photographs--the very best images available. This second edition includes more than 500 new photos and updated text, maps, and species names. For most species, there are photographs of topsides and undersides, males and females, and variants. All text is embedded in the photographs, allowing swift access in the field, and arrows point to field marks, showing you exactly what to look for. Detailed, same-page range maps include information about the number of broods in each area and where strays have been recorded. Color text boxes highlight information about habitat, caterpillar food plants, abundance and flight period, and other interesting facts. Also included are a quick visual index and a caterpillar food plant index. The result is an ideal field guide that will enable you to identify almost every butterfly you see.
  • A revised second edition of the most comprehensive photographic field guide to North American butterflies, featuring more than 500 new photos and updated text, maps, and species names
  • Written by the pioneering authority on the field identification of butterflies
  • Beautifully illustrated with 3,500 color photographs that show all known species, including views of topsides and undersides, males and females, and variants for most species
  • Authoritative text embedded in the photographs for swift access
  • Detailed range maps
  • Color text boxes that highlight information about habitat, food plants, abundance and flight period, and other interesting facts
  • An invaluable tool for field identification
RECOMMENDATION: If you liked the first edition, you should like this edition.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

New Title


1) Sterry, Paul. Warblers and Other Songbirds of North America: A Life-size Guide to Every Species. 2017.  Harper Design. Hardbound: 352 pages. Price: $29.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A stunning full-color photographic field guide of 285 species of North American songbirds and warblers, captured in glorious life-sized detail and featuring concise descriptions, location maps, and useful facts for both experienced birdwatchers and armchair ornithologists alike.
     Birds such as the Acadian Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Indigo Bunting, Northern Mockingbird, Pyrrhuloxia, Rock Wren, Song Sparrow, Tree Swallow, and the Yellow-throated Warbler are known for their elaborate songs produced by their highly developed vocal organs. Warblers and Other Songbirds of North America is a breathtaking collection of 285 species of these beautiful, melodious creatures, the largest number of species in a single field guide about North American songbirds.
     Arranged by region and taxonomic order, every songbird is depicted life-sized; each photograph is accompanied by a short description with essential information on identification and the particular species, habits, and behavior. Every species entry also includes a map showing where the species can be found, as well as a fact grid listing key details such as common and scientific name, length, food, habitat, status, and voice. Inside you'll find fun facts, including:
  • Songbirds are members of the order Passeriformes, the most varied group of birds both in terms of numbers of species and diversity of appearance and habit preferences.
  • Songbirds have feet that allow them to perch with ease, with three toes pointing forward and one facing back.
  • Songbirds are extremely vocal; some male species are among the finest songsters in the bird world.
     Every photograph is gloriously detailed and chosen to show each species’ unique identification features and typical postures. Packed in a convenient portable size, Warblers and Other Songbirds of North America is ideal for the experienced birdwatcher, the aspiring naturalist, and every bird lover.

 RECOMMENDATION: The photography highlights this book.