News

It was 10 years ago this month that I launched The Birder’s Library. Even as I type this, I can’t believe it’s been that long! I knew very little about running a website…or design…or even about reviewing books. Honestly, I’m still learning all those things.

It’s been a great 10 years and I hope to continue as long as the site remains useful. To celebrate, I’ve lined up a couple of giveaways – keep an eye out for more details.

Finally, if you want a good laugh, this is what the website looked like when it launched. No WordPress, just all (painfully) hand-modified html. Ugh

The Birder's Library version 1.0

Animals of Kruger National ParkAnimals of Kruger National Park
by Keith Barnes

From Princeton University Press:

South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the largest and most diverse conservation areas in Africa, and a hugely popular visitor attraction. Animals of Kruger National Park is a compact and beautifully illustrated guide, and the essential companion for any safari to the region. With an eye-catching design, authoritative and accessible text and easy-to-use format, this detailed photographic guide provides information on identification, habitat, behaviour, biology and conservation for all the mammals, reptiles and frogs likely to be seen. Introductory sections provide background information on the park and its habitats, when to visit and where to go, and other practical considerations that will help to enhance your understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the animals of this incredible region.

  • The essential all-in-one Kruger safari companion, ideal for all visitors
  • Unique and attractive layout, featuring 216 stunning colour photographs, 116 track (spoor) illustrations and two maps
  • Covers 57 mammals, 17 reptiles and eight frogs
  • Features the ‘Big 5’–elephants, leopards, lions, rhinoceroses and buffalos–as well as other iconic and charismatic animals
  • Provides key information on identification, behaviour, biology and conservation

 

This is another excellent entry in the Princeton WILDGuides series. It will not only help you identify the mammals, reptiles, and frogs you’re most likely to see, but it will also teach you about their natural history and the region as a whole. Highly recommended to anyone going to Kruger or the surrounding area.

 

Animals of Kruger National Park
by Keith Barnes
Paperback; 176 pages
Princeton University Press; September 6, 2016
ISBN: 9780691161785
$27.95

Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American OwlsOwl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls
by Paul Bannick

From Mountaineers Books:

In Owl, award-winning photographer Paul Bannick uses his intimate yet dramatic images to track four different nesting owl species, Northern Pygmy, Burrowing, Great Gray, and Snowy, throughout the course of one year and in four distinct habitats. Readers follow along at the nest as each stage in an owl’s life is chronicled: courtship, mating, and nesting in spring; fledging and feeding of young in summer; dispersal and learning independence in fall; and finally, winter’s migration.

 

This book is worth buying for the photos alone. Stunning! But it’s also a good introduction to the lives of owls, with emphasis placed on four species that showcase the diversity of owl behaviors and habitats. Bannick has spent many an hour in the field with these birds, and that clearly comes through in both his pictures and his words.

 

Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls
by Paul Bannick
Hardcover; 224 pages
Mountaineers Books; October 1, 2016
ISBN: 9781594858000
$34.95

Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central AmericaPeterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America
by Jesse Fagan and Oliver Komar

From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

A field guide to the birds of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, abundantly illustrated and with comprehensive coverage of both endemic and migrant birds

Birding is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry in northern Central America, and this is the newest and best bird field guide to this region—the first new bird guide in over ten years for the countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. This guide is far more complete than previous ones, with more than 800 species accounts, full-color range maps, and 1,000 beautiful illustrations and behavioral vignettes covering all species recorded in the region.

This guide is designed for birders to carry in the field, and it is a must-have for any birder who visits the area.

 

This is the new go-to field guide for Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It’s small enough to easily carry with you and has range maps and accounts opposite some very nice plates.

 

Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America
by Jesse Fagan and Oliver Komar
Paperback; 448 pages
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; November 1, 2016
ISBN: 9780544373266
$25.00

The Arctic Guide: Wildlife of the Far NorthThe Arctic Guide: Wildlife of the Far North
by Sharon Chester

From Princeton University Press:

The Arctic Guide presents the traveler and naturalist with a portable, authoritative guide to the flora and fauna of earth’s northernmost region. Featuring superb color illustrations, this one-of-a-kind book covers the complete spectrum of wildlife–more than 800 species of plants, fishes, butterflies, birds, and mammals–that inhabit the Arctic’s polar deserts, tundra, taiga, sea ice, and oceans. It can be used anywhere in the entire Holarctic region, including Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, Siberia, the Russian Far East, islands of the Bering Sea, Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, and Greenland. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, size, habitat, range, scientific name, and the unique characteristics that enable these organisms to survive in the extreme conditions of the Far North. A color distribution map accompanies each species account, and alternative names in German, French, Norwegian, Russian, Inuit, and Inupiaq are also provided.

  • Features superb color plates that allow for quick identification of more than 800 species of plants, fishes, butterflies, birds, and mammals
  • Includes detailed species accounts and color distribution maps
  • Covers the flora and fauna of the entire Arctic region

 

This excellent field guide, covering everything from mammals to plants, is perfect for anyone journeying to the Arctic. The only bad thing I can say about it is that the range maps are small, making it hard to make out details. Still, you can be sure this guide will accompany me when I finally make it to Alaska.

On a side note, this field guide is “flexi-bound” (similar to The Sibley Guide). I really hope future entries in Princeton University Press’s wonderful field guide series are likewise bound.

 

The Arctic Guide: Wildlife of the Far North
by Sharon Chester
Flexi-bound; 544 pages
Princeton University Press; September 6, 2016
ISBN: 9780691139753
$27.95

Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America's National ParksTreasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks
by Q.T. Luong

From Q.T. Luong and Cameron + Company:

The most complete visual tour of all 59 US National Parks in a coffee-table book, with location notes for each photograph.

It is said that a photograph helped launch the national parks. After Congress viewed photos of Yosemite, President Lincoln was moved to sign a bill that paved the way for the U.S. National Park Service, which was founded in 1916 and is now celebrating its centennial. In Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks, photographer QT Luong pays tribute to the millions of acres of protected wilderness in our country’s 59 national parks.

Luong, who is featured in Ken Burns’s and Dayton Duncan’s documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, is the most prolific and versatile photographer working in the national parks and the only one to have made large-format photographs in each of them. In an odyssey that spanned more than 20 years and 300 visits, Luong focused his lenses on iconic landscapes and rarely seen remote views, presenting his journey in this sumptuous array of more than 500 breathtaking images.

Accompanying the collection of scenic masterpieces is a guide that includes maps of each park, as well as extended captions that detail where and how the photographs were made. Designed to inspire visitors to connect with the parks and invite photographers to re-create these landscapes, the guide also provides anecdotal observations that give context to the pictures and convey the sheer scope of Luong’s extraordinary odyssey.

Including an introduction by award-winning author and documentary filmmaker Dayton Duncan, Treasured Lands is a rich visual tour of the U.S. National Parks and an invaluable guide from a photographer who hiked–or paddled, dived, skied, snowshoed, and climbed–each park, shooting in all kinds of terrain, in all seasons, and at all times of day. QT Luong’s timeless gallery of the nation’s most revered landscapes beckons to nature lovers, armchair travelers, and photography enthusiasts alike, keeping America’s natural wonders within reach.

 

I recently posted my favorite National Parks books, in honor of their centennial this year. This new book easily makes it on that list. I’ve seen many large-format photography books of the parks, but none match this one. The photographs are second to none, and the extra information included – maps, tips, the precise location where each photo was taken – greatly add to it.

 

Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks
by Q.T. Luong
Hardcover; 456 pages
Cameron + Company; October 1, 2016
ISBN: 9781944903008
$65.00

Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly KillerCat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer
by Peter P. Marra and Chris Santella

From Princeton University Press:

In 1894, a lighthouse keeper named David Lyall arrived on Stephens Island off New Zealand with a cat named Tibbles. In just over a year, the Stephens Island Wren, a rare bird endemic to the island, was rendered extinct. Mounting scientific evidence confirms what many conservationists have suspected for some time–that in the United States alone, free-ranging cats are killing birds and other animals by the billions. Equally alarming are the little-known but potentially devastating public health consequences of rabies and parasitic Toxoplasma passing from cats to humans at rising rates. Cat Wars tells the story of the threats free-ranging cats pose to biodiversity and public health throughout the world, and sheds new light on the controversies surrounding the management of the explosion of these cat populations.

This compelling book traces the historical and cultural ties between humans and cats from early domestication to the current boom in pet ownership, along the way accessibly explaining the science of extinction, population modeling, and feline diseases. It charts the developments that have led to our present impasse–from Stan Temple’s breakthrough studies on cat predation in Wisconsin to cat-eradication programs underway in Australia today. It describes how a small but vocal minority of cat advocates has campaigned successfully for no action in much the same way that special interest groups have stymied attempts to curtail smoking and climate change.

Cat Wars paints a revealing picture of a complex global problem–and proposes solutions that foresee a time when wildlife and humans are no longer vulnerable to the impacts of free-ranging cats.

 

Want to know the surest indication that this book hits the mark? Just read the 100+ one-star reviews on Amazon. Well, you may not want to read too many of them as the risk of killing your brain cells is too great. Hopefully this book will draw attention to this important issue.

 

Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer
by Peter P. Marra and Chris Santella
Hardcover; 216 pages
Princeton University Press; September 13, 2016
ISBN: 9780691167411
$24.95

Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian IntelligenceBird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence
by Nathan Emery

From Princeton University Press:

Birds have not been known for their high IQs, which is why a person of questionable intelligence is sometimes called a “birdbrain.” Yet in the past two decades, the study of avian intelligence has witnessed dramatic advances. From a time when birds were seen as simple instinct machines responding only to stimuli in their external worlds, we now know that some birds have complex internal worlds as well. This beautifully illustrated book provides an engaging exploration of the avian mind, revealing how science is exploding one of the most widespread myths about our feathered friends–and changing the way we think about intelligence in other animals as well.

Bird Brain looks at the structures and functions of the avian brain, and describes the extraordinary behaviors that different types of avian intelligence give rise to. It offers insights into crows, jays, magpies, and other corvids–the “masterminds” of the avian world–as well as parrots and some less-studied species from around the world. This lively and accessible book shows how birds have sophisticated brains with abilities previously thought to be uniquely human, such as mental time travel, self-recognition, empathy, problem solving, imagination, and insight.

Written by a leading expert and featuring a foreword by Frans de Waal, renowned for his work on animal intelligence, Bird Brain shines critical new light on the mental lives of birds.

 

Birds are amazing creatures. I don’t know how many times I’ve written something similar to that. I suppose I’ll stop when I cease to be amazed by them (in other words, not anytime soon). If you too want to see how amazing birds are, this book is an excellent place to start.

 

Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence
by Nathan Emery
Hardcover; 192 pages
Princeton University Press; August 23, 2016
ISBN: 9780691165172
$29.95

Sorry for the lack of reviews lately – I just haven’t seemed to have much time for writing, or even reading, this summer. Work, family vacations, the usual excuses. I’m working on a review of Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year (spoiler: it’s a great read), and am in the middle of reading The Genius of Birds (a very informative survey of bird “smarts”). But in the meantime (tomorrow, to be precise), you’ll be treated to Frank Lambert’s review of Birds of Western Ecuador: A Photographic Guide.

If you’re looking for something good to read, there have been several excellent books published in the last few months. Besides the ones I’ve already reviewed or mentioned here, a couple excellent choices are Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific and One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives.

Phillipps' Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and their EcologyPhillipps’ Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and Their Ecology: Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan
by Quentin Phillipps and Karen Phillipps

From Princeton University Press:

This is the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and easily accessible field guide to the mammals of Borneo–the ideal travel companion for anyone visiting this region of the world. Covering Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan, the book provides essential information on 277 species of land and marine mammals and features 141 breathtaking color plates. Detailed facing-page species accounts describe taxonomy, size, range, distribution, habits, and status. This unique at-a-glance guide also includes distribution maps, habitat plates, regional maps, fast-find graphic indexes, top mammal sites, and a complete overview of the vegetation, climate, and ecology of Borneo.

  • Covers 277 species–from orangutans and clouded leopards to otters and other marine mammals
  • Features 141 superb color plates
  • Includes facing-page species accounts, distribution maps, fast-find graphic indexes, and more
  • Describes Borneo’s vegetation, climate, and ecology

 

I don’t often cover non-bird field guides, but I have to make an exception for this one. The Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, from the same authors, is one of my favorite field guides because of how it integrates ecology and natural history without sacrificing utility in identification or much in the way of space. This new companion guide to mammals does the same – it not only will help you ID these creatures, in the process you will learn much about them and the island of Borneo itself. It even includes extensive information on where to find these animals as well. Altogether, this is a guide you would definitely want with you.

 

Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and Their Ecology: Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan
by Quentin Phillipps and Karen Phillipps
Paperback; 400 pages
Princeton University Press; May 10, 2016
ISBN: 9780691169415
$35.00