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Owls: A Guide to Every Species in the WorldOwls: A Guide to Every Species in the World
by Marianne Taylor

From Harper Design:

Discover the fascinating and mysterious world of owls with this stunning full-color, encyclopedic visual guide that explores all 225 known species, packed with maps, photographs, illustrations, informative scientific details, and a bonus 35½” x 12″ accordion poster illustrated with the true-to-size wing length of the largest owl, overlayed with the wing length of the smallest owl and several owls in-between.

Humans have long been fascinated by owls. From prehistoric cave paintings to popular modern children’s stories, these magnificent predators have been seen as harbingers of good fortune and impending disaster, as icons of fear and wisdom, and as the powerful sidekicks of magic-makers, including the beloved Harry Potter. Scientists have faced tremendous challenges trying to document the lives of these solitary, nocturnal, and highly elusive creatures. New species are still being discovered, as are new insights into the habits of even the most familiar varieties.

Visually spectacular and authoritative, Owls includes full descriptions and maps of key viewing locations for all 225 owl species in the world, and is illustrated with drawings and stunning full-color images from some of the leading wildlife photographers from around the world which capture these birds’ breathtaking beauty and power. The book also features a special section on the art of hiding—a highly honed skill set of the owl.

Throughout, Marianne Taylor provides a wealth of detail on each type of bird’s hunting and breeding behavior, habitat, and conservation. Inside, are dozens of fun facts, such as:

  • Only nineteen of the 225 known species of owls are found in North America;
  • Owls can be found on all continents except Antarctica;
  • Owls, like humans, have binocular vision;
  • Owls cannot turn their eyes, but are able to rotate their heads up to 270 degrees;
  • Owls are carnivorous and are known to eat rodents, small mammals, nocturnal insects, fish, and other birds.

Lavishly illustrated and educational, this breathtaking volume is essential for readers interested in natural science, devout birders, professional ornithologists, and all owl lovers.

 

When it comes to owls, there is any kind of book you could want. If you’re looking for a readable introduction to each of the world’s owls, along with some great photos – this is the book you want. Of the 225 owls covered, 205 of them get a one, sometimes two, page account, complete with range map and a single, large photo. The remaining 20 fit two to a page, since they don’t have a photo (to be fair, many of these are range restricted, one is extinct, and another likely so). Also included is a 15-page introduction covering the basics of owl biology.

 

Owls: A Guide to Every Species in the World
by Marianne Taylor
Hardcover; 256 pages
Harper Design; November 22, 2016
ISBN: 9780062413888
$50.00

Book of Texas BirdsBook of Texas Birds
by Gary Clark

From Texas A&M University Press:

Drawing on the knowledge and insight gained from a lifetime of watching, studying, and enjoying birds, this book is full of information about more than four hundred species of birds in Texas, most all of which author Gary Clark has seen first hand. Organized in the standard taxonomic order familiar to most birders, the book is written in a conversational tone that yields a wide-ranging discussion of each bird’s life history as well as an intimate look at some of its special characteristics and habits. Information regarding each species’ diet, voice, and nest is included as well as when and where it can be found in Texas. Magnificent photographs by Kathy Adams Clark accompany each bird’s entry.

For those just beginning to watch birds to those who can fully relate to the experiences and sentiments communicated here by a veteran birder, this book reveals the kind of personal connection to nature that careful attention to the birds around us can inspire.

 

This book has roughly the size, heft, and feel of The Sibley Guide, but it is not a field guide. Instead, it’s a bird-by-bird introduction to Texas’ avifauna. Informative and readable, it would be the ideal companion for any Texan interested in birds. Here’s the author’s thoughts on how to best use it:

Browse the book. Look for birds you want to know more about. Learn what you want to learn and keep the book on hand when you want to learn. The book is meant for you to enjoy as a complement to your enjoyment of birds.

 

Book of Texas Birds
by Gary Clark
Flexicover; 512 pages
Texas A&M University Press; December 28, 2016
ISBN: 9781623494315
$39.95

Look and Learn Birds PBS KidsLook and Learn Birds / Insects (PBS Kids)
by Sarah Parvis and PBS Kids

From Downtown Bookworks:

A simple, fun, fully-illustrated introduction to birds comes packaged with kid-friendly binoculars to encourage kids to explore the natural world around them.

The clear, easy-to-follow reference is designed for a young audience with large pictures and minimal text highlighting the most interesting things to notice about the most common birds in North America–ones that kids would easily spot in their own backyard or local park. The book also highlights features and behaviors children can look for when they observe birds up-close (with the binoculars that come in the kit). In addition, the guide suggests fun, educational activities such as making a hummingbird feeder, or homemade bird treats to attract feathered friends. A portable checklist is included to help children identify common birds when they’re out birding, and there is a colorful, interactive poster as well. An engaging resource for budding naturalists, this kit will also get kids exciting about experiencing nature up-close.

This delightful kit comes with:

  • 64-page book packed with bright, informative photos and simple tips for spotting and identifying common birds
  • a pair of easy-to-use binoculars
  • a portable laminated list of common North American birds
  • an activity poster that encourages observation and creativity

 

The insect kit includes a magnifier jar, in addition to a book and poster.

These kits are ideal for children (approximately 4-9 years old) who are interested in nature (or who you’d like to get interested in nature!). The books are not field guides so much as introductions to these groups, with lots of interesting facts and guidance as to what to look for. The binoculars included in the bird kit is more of a novelty item than useful tool, they’re the same as those you’d get at zoo gift shops. In other words, if the child is legitimately interested in birdwatching you’ll need to get actual binoculars. The jar, on the other hand, actually works pretty well.

Younger kids should love these kits. In fact, I would have posted about these much earlier, but my kids appropriated them as soon as they were opened!

 

Look and Learn Birds / Insects (PBS Kids)
by Sarah Parvis and PBS Kids
Paperback; 64 pages each
Downtown Bookworks; August 30, 2016
ISBN: Birds: 9781941367292; Insects: 9781935703853
$19.99 each

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