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by Noah Strycker

An exploration of the amazing lives of birds and the insight they can provide into our own lives.

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A Message from Martha: The Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and Its Relevance Today, by Mark AveryA Message from Martha: The Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and Its Relevance Today
by Mark Avery

From Bloomsbury:

September 1st, 2014 sees the centenary of one of the best-documented extinctions in history the demise of the Passenger Pigeon. From being the commonest bird on the planet 50 years earlier, the species became extinct with the death in Cincinatti Zoo of Martha, the last of her kind.

A Message from Martha marks the centenary of that tragic event. Built around the framework of a visit to the pigeon’s former haunts in eastern North America by author Mark Avery, it tells the tale of the pigeon, and of Martha, and explores the largely untold story of the ecological annihilation of this part of America in the years between the end of the US Civil War and 1900. This period saw an unprecedented loss of natural beauty and richness, as forests were felled and the prairies were ploughed, swiftly to be replaced by a dustbowl, while wildlife was slaughtered indiscriminately. Written engagingly and with an element of travelogue as well as historical detective work, A Message from Martha is more than another depressing tale of human greed and ecological stupidity [emphasis added]. It contains an underlying message that we need to re-forge our relationship with the natural world on which we depend, and plan a more sustainable future. Otherwise the tipping point will be crossed and more species will go the way of the Passenger Pigeon. We should listen to the message from Martha.


I love the portion above that’s in bold. That’s why I’m looking forward to reading this book, it not only looks back at the Passenger Pigeion, but ahead to what we can learn from it.


A Message from Martha: The Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and Its Relevance Today
by Mark Avery
Hardcover; 304 pages
Bloomsbury; August 26, 2014
ISBN: 978-1472906250

by The Mincing Mockingbird

A humorous look at some very troubled birds.

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A History of Birdwatching in 100 ObjectsA History of Birdwatching in 100 Objects
by David Callahan

From Bloomsbury:

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]
  • Many more modern innovations including walkie talkies, pagers, radio tags and apps


There’s an excellent review of this book by Donna Schulman at 10,000 Birds. Looks like an interesting conversation starter.


A History of Birdwatching in 100 Objects
by David Callahan
Hardcover; 224 pages
Bloomsbury; September 2, 2014
ISBN: 978-1408186183

The Amazing World of FlyingfishThe Amazing World of Flyingfish
by Steve N. G. Howell

From Princeton University Press:

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.

  • 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


No, this isn’t a bird book, but it is about some flying creatures that birders can often see! Watching flyingfish is one of my favorite things about pelagic trips. If you’d like to find out more about these strange fish, this tiny, but attractive, book is for you.


The Amazing World of Flyingfish
by Steve N. G. Howell
Hardcover; 64 pages
Princeton University Press; July 13, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691160115

by Paul F. Donald, Nigel J. Collar, Stuart J. Marsden, and Deborah J. Pain

This introduction to rarity in birds is highly recommended to anyone who cares about birds.

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Bird Songs of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East iOS appBird Songs of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

From Edition AMPLE:

This is the professional App to the renowned reference work of Schulze and Dingler covering all 819 European species including all 2,817 songs and calls from the CDs and MP3-Discs. All species can be browsed according to their taxonomical classification and can thus be easily compared. Spectrograms to all sounds as well as high quality photographs and descriptions to each species are also included. As a novelty and practical advantage, multiple songs and calls of one species are arranged consecutively on separate tracks. Each track consists of several calls, which can independently be chosen and played immediately without the need to fast-forward. Explanations to all recordings and bird names are given in English.

Special features:

  • 2817 songs & calls
  • Includes 802 European species
  • Spectrograms to all sounds
  • Descriptions to all species
  • 1350 photographs
  • Create sighting lists and sort by place, date, group, and name
  • Make notes for each bird spotted
  • Display bird names in 18 languages


If you don’t already have this comprehensive sound collection – and have an Apple device – this looks like a convenient way to always have these songs at your fingertips.

The contents of the entire 17-volume Handbook of the Birds of the World all in one website.

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Here are some more great reviews from around the net.

About Parrots: A Guide for ChildrenAbout Parrots: A Guide for Children
by Cathryn Sill and John Sill (Illustrator)

From Peachtree Publishers:

In this appealing addition to the acclaimed About… series, educator and author Cathryn Sill uses simple, easy-to-understand language to teach children what parrots are, how they look, how they move, what they eat, and where they live. Illustrator John Sill introduces readers to a variety of parrots, from the colorful Blue Lorikeets of the Polynesian Islands to the Rosy-faced Lovebirds of southwestern Africa. An afterword provides details on the parrots featured and inspires readers to learn more.


Not only is the art is gorgeous, but kids (and adults, too) are sure to learn a lot about these charismatic birds. Recommended for ages 3-7.


About Parrots: A Guide for Children
by Cathryn Sill and John Sill (Illustrator)
Hardcover; 48 pages
Peachtree Publishers; August 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-1561457953