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New Book: Soar

June 28, 2016 | Comments (0)

SoarSoar
by Tracy Edward Wymer

From Aladdin (Simon & Schuster):

Seventh grader Eddie is determined to honor his father’s legacy and win the school science fair in this fun and quirky debut novel.

Eddie learned everything there is to know about birding from his dad, including the legend of the Golden Eagle, which Dad claimed he saw once down near Miss Dorothy’s pond. According to his dad, the Golden Eagle had wings wider than a creek and talons the size of bulldozer claws. But when Eddie was in sixth grade, Dad “flew away” for good, leaving Eddie on his own to await the return of the elusive raptor.

Now Eddie is starting seventh grade and trying to impress Gabriella, the new girl in town. The annual seventh grade Science Symposium (which Dad famously won) is looming, and Eddie is determined to claim the blue ribbon for himself. With Mr. Dover, the science teacher who was Dad’s birding rival, seemingly against him, and with Mouton, the class bully, making his life miserable on all fronts, Eddie is determined to overcome everything and live up to Dad’s memory. Can Eddie soar and make his dream take flight?

 

This is a rare birding-related novel for elementary to middle schoolers (approximately 8-12 year olds).

 

Soar
by Tracy Edward Wymer
Hardcover; 288 pages
Aladdin; July 5, 2016
ISBN: 9781481447119
$17.99

Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big YearLost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year
by Neil Hayward

From Bloomsbury:

Early in 2013 Neil Hayward was at a crossroads. He didn’t want to open a bakery or whatever else executives do when they quit a lucrative but unfulfilling job. He didn’t want to think about his failed relationship with “the one” or his potential for ruining a new relationship with “the next one.” And he almost certainly didn’t want to think about turning forty. And so instead he went birding.

Birding was a lifelong passion. It was only among the birds that Neil found a calm that had eluded him in the confusing world of humans. But this time he also found competition. His growing list of species reluctantly catapulted him into a Big Year–a race to find the most birds in one year. His peregrinations across twenty-eight states and six provinces in search of exotic species took him to a hoarfrost-covered forest in Massachusetts to find a Fieldfare; to Lake Havasu, Arizona, to see a rare Nutting’s Flycatcher; and to Vancouver for the Red-flanked Bluetail. Neil’s Big Year was as unplanned as it was accidental: It was the perfect distraction to life.

Neil shocked the birding world by finding 749 species of bird and breaking the long-standing Big Year record. He also surprised himself: During his time among the hummingbirds, tanagers, and boobies, he found a renewed sense of confidence and hope about the world and his place in it.

 

Yes, another big year book. This one has plenty of birds, Hayward did break the ABA record after all (sorry, but I don’t consider that a spoiler since the publisher mentions it above). But it also has a great story outside of the birds, which makes this a good read even if you aren’t a fan of the big-year-type book.

 

Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year
by Neil Hayward
Hardcover; 416 pages
Bloomsbury; June 7, 2016
ISBN: 9781632865793
$28.00

Wildlife Conservation Society Birds of Brazil: The Atlantic Forest of Southeast BrazilWildlife Conservation Society Birds of Brazil: The Atlantic Forest of Southeast Brazil, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro
by Robert S. Ridgely, John A. Gwynne, Guy Tudor, and Martha Argel

From Cornell University Press:

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and is one of the planet’s richest places for bird diversity, especially when it comes to the number of endemic species. Brazil’s Atlantic Forest region is one of the most dazzling of all. Immediately surrounding São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, this area of Brazil is also a relatively accessible area to birders from around the world. In the Birds of Brazil Field Guides, the Wildlife Conservation Society brings together a top international team to do justice to the incredible diversity of Brazilian birds. This second guide presents 927 bird species, 863 illustrated, that occur in just the southeastern Atlantic Forest biome (Mata Atlântica in Portuguese). Of these species, 140 are endemic and 105 near endemic to just this region; 83 of these are threatened. Modern and compact, this field guide provides illustrations of unparalleled quality, key field marks, and regional range maps to facilitate easy recognition of all species normally occurring in this vibrant and critically important area of Brazil.

 

The first field guide in this series – for The Pantanal and Cerrado of Central Brazil – was published six years ago, so I’ve been concerned that the series wouldn’t continue. That would’ve been a shame, as these guides highlight regions and ecosystems in great peril. The Atlantic Forest covered here is one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet. For that reason alone, I’m happy to see this published. Plus, even though I’ve yet to see this guide in person, I have every expectation that it is just as good as the previous WCS Birds of Brazil guide.

 

Wildlife Conservation Society Birds of Brazil: The Atlantic Forest of Southeast Brazil, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro
by Robert S. Ridgely, John A. Gwynne, Guy Tudor, and Martha Argel
Paperback; 432 pages
Cornell University Press (Comstock Publishing Associates); June 14, 2016
ISBN: 9781501704536
$35.00

Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North AmericaPeterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America
by Stephen A. Shunk

From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

A complete guide to the natural history, ecology, and conservation of North America’s 23 woodpecker species.

From the iconic Woody Woodpecker to the ubiquitous Northern Flicker, woodpeckers have long captivated our attention. Their astonishing anatomy makes them one of the most specialized bird families in the world, and their keystone ecological roles in our forests and woodlands makes them some of the most important birds on the continent.

This comprehensive and authoritative guide to the natural history, ecology, and conservation of North America’s 23 woodpecker species goes far beyond identification. It explores their unique anatomy and their fascinating and often comical behaviors; it covers each species’ North American conservation status; and it showcases over 250 stunning photographs of woodpeckers in their natural habitats, plus easy-to-read figures and range maps. This reference guide is an essential addition to every birder’s library.

 

Woodpeckers are awesome. If you’d like to know more about them – or just see some incredible photos – this is an excellent place to start.

 

Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America
by Stephen A. Shunk
Hardcover; 320 pages
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; May 10, 2016
ISBN: 9780618739950
$35.00

Wild Notes: Observations over time about birds and other fleeting thingsWild Notes: Observations over time about birds and other fleeting things
by Mike Lubow

From Mike Lubow:

Wild Notes chronicles several year’s worth of daily observations written in a logbook style by a regular guy who happens to be a bird watcher, among other things. In the tradition of wilderness junkies like Ed Abbey, Annie Dillard and even that odd old hermit, Thoreau, the author is hooked on the elemental kick that starts with an easy-going interest in birds and goes beyond to an interest in all fleeting things. Bird watching, once considered a gentle hobby, is now known to be a wilderness adventure enjoyed by rough and ready men and women of all ages. Hard-muscled, hard-bitten, bug-bitten explorers who bushwhack trackless wilds. Or ordinary folk who stalk neighborhood nature trails. Whichever kind you are, you’re out to find animals that are not only accessible, but entirely wild. They could be avian migrants newly arrived from a South American jungle to spend summer with you. Or winter vagrants that flew across a thousand-mile tundra to visit your neck of the woods. Birds, like uninhibited thoughts, go where they want. From them you can acquire a “life list” of sightings, but you can also get insights that would never have occurred if you hadn’t lost yourself in the woods for a bit to stalk things that fly in and out of your life. Throughout Wild Notes, the date shown on the left page indicates a true moment in time. The right page explains what happened then: what was seen, thought about and what was worth sharing with you.

 

Mike Lubow writes online at the Two-fisted Birdwatcher, where I’ve long enjoyed his missives. Check out his website and read a few entries (they’re short!). If you enjoy them, then get this book – you’ll enjoy it as well.

 

Wild Notes: Observations over time about birds and other fleeting things
by Mike Lubow
Paperback; 166 pages
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; September 14, 2015
ISBN: 9781499624465
$11.99

Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: BirdsUltimate Explorer Field Guide: Birds
by Julie Beer

From National Geographic:

This fun, photo-filled, and fact-packed bird guide will make kids Stop! Look! and Listen! to find the feathered friends right in their own backyards. From ducks to hawks, sparrows to sandpipers, kids will learn how, where, and when to spot birds all over the United States. With tons of info and interactivity prompts, it’s the perfect companion for backyard or field trip, camping or vacation. Durable and portable, it’s just right for pocket or backpack.

 

This is a small guide for kids to 175 North American birds. It has photos, illustrations from the “big” National Geographic field guide, and lots of information (although the sidebars labeled “Be a Bird Nerd!” rub me the wrong way).

 

Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Birds
by Julie Beer
Flexbound; 160 pages
National Geographic Children’s Books; February 9, 2016
ISBN: 9781426322990
$12.99

Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the PacificListening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific
by Donald Kroodsma

From Princeton University Press:

Join birdsong expert Donald Kroodsma on a ten-week, ten-state bicycle journey as he travels with his son from the Atlantic to the Pacific, lingering and listening to our continent sing as no one has before. On remote country roads, over terrain vast and spectacular, from dawn to dusk and sometimes through the night, you will gain a deep appreciation for the natural symphony of birdsong many of us take for granted. Come along and marvel at how expressive these creatures are as Kroodsma leads you west across nearly five thousand miles–at a leisurely pace that enables a deep listen.

Listening to a Continent Sing is also a guided tour through the history of a young nation and the geology of an ancient landscape, and an invitation to set aside the bustle of everyday life to follow one’s dreams. It is a celebration of flowers and trees, rocks and rivers, mountains and prairies, clouds and sky, headwinds and calm, and of local voices and the people you will meet along the way. It is also the story of a father and son deepening their bond as they travel the slow road together from coast to coast.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with drawings of birds and scenes and featuring QR codes that link to audio birdsong, this poignant and insightful book takes you on a travel adventure unlike any other–accompanied on every leg of your journey by birdsong.

 

Donald Kroodsma knows how to listen to birds and, more importantly for us, can communicate that brilliantly through the written word. His The Singing Life of Birds will open up bird song to you in a way that you never thought possible. This book, in which he travels from one side of the country to the other listening to birds, promises to be a great read as well. Through the companion website, which you can easily access via QR codes throughout the book, the reader can listen in and experience the soundscape along with Kroodsma.

 

Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific
by Donald Kroodsma
Hardcover; 336 pages
Princeton University Press; May 3, 2016
ISBN: 9780691166810
$29.95

Feather Brained: My Bumbling Quest to Become a Birder and Find a Rare Bird on My OwnFeather Brained: My Bumbling Quest to Become a Birder and Find a Rare Bird on My Own
by Bob Tarte

From University of Michigan:

For much of his life, the closest Bob Tarte got to a nature walk was the stroll from parking lot to picnic table on family outings. But then a chance sighting of a dazzling rose-breasted grosbeak in wife-to-be Linda’s backyard prompts a fascination with birds, which he had never cared about before in the least. Soon he is obsessed with spotting more and more of them-the rarer the better-and embarks on a bumpy journey to improve his bumbling birding skills. Along the way, Tarte offers readers a droll look at the pleasures and pitfalls he encounters, introduces a colorful cast of fellow birders from across the country, and travels to some of the premier birding sites in the Midwest, including Point Pelee, Magee Marsh, Tawas Point State Park, and even Muskegon Wastewater System. This funny, heartfelt memoir will appeal to birders of all skill levels as well as to anyone who knows and loves a birder.

 

Birder memoirs such as this are hit or miss. I don’t know which this one is yet, having only read a couple pages so far, but based on the ratings of the author’s previous books I’m hoping for the former.

 

Feather Brained: My Bumbling Quest to Become a Birder and Find a Rare Bird on My Own
by Bob Tarte
Hardcover; 216 pages
University of Michigan; April 13, 2016
ISBN: 9780472119868
$22.95

Audubon: America's Greatest Naturalist and His Voyage of Discovery to LabradorAudubon: America’s Greatest Naturalist and His Voyage of Discovery to Labrador
by Peter B. Logan

From Ashbryn Press:

The Birds of America. One man’s dream to illustrate and publish a work depicting all the birds of North America. Midway through the nearly twelve-year project, the French-American painter and naturalist John James Audubon was beset by obstacles and began to doubt if he could complete it. This overlooked chapter in his life comes alive in this volume, as Audubon faces a difficult test while the fate of his Great Work hangs in the balance.

By the spring of 1833, after six years of serial publication, not even half of the four hundred promised prints had been issued to his subscribers. Audubon still needed to find and paint scores of additional species before he could lay aside his brush.

The uncharted shores of Labrador beckoned with rumors of rare birds, but an expedition to the north would be a severe trial. It was a desolate land, and its brief summer would afford him little time to accomplish his mission. At the age of forty-eight, he questioned how much longer he could maintain the punishing pace his project demanded. His wife, Lucy, feared for his health. Audubon was undaunted.

As he sailed from Eastport, Maine, in early June, developments abroad threatened to undo his work. Robert Havell Jr., the brilliant London engraver and printer who had brought Audubon’s vision to life, was ready to quit. At the same time, the naturalist’s harshest critic in England had just unleashed an attack on him in Britain s foremost natural-history journal. Half a world away, Audubon was unable to respond.

Through the lens of this heretofore unwritten tale, Audubon scholar Peter B. Logan offers a beautifully textured narrative for historians and Audubon lovers alike. Meticulously researched, using many previously unknown sources, this groundbreaking book portrays the panoramic sweep of Audubon s remarkable life, from his illegitimate birth through his aimless early years as a frontier storekeeper to his decision to launch a daring enterprise from which he would emerge as America s greatest naturalist. At the heart of this saga lies the Labrador expedition. With the reader alongside during the most critical point in his career, Audubon is revealed as his closest friends knew him dynamic, gregarious, and utterly indomitable, while simultaneously insecure, egotistical, and not beyond stretching the truth.

Addressing historical errors made by previous biographers and supplemented with numerous maps and illustrations, as well as an appendix of never-before-published documents, Audubon: America’s Greatest Naturalist and His Voyage of Discovery to Labrador rewrites the unforgettable story of the iconic American Woodsman, whose passion and purpose produced an enduring monument to natural history that has never been equaled.

 

This thick book (although around half of it is appendices, notes, and index) tells of a man we’re all familiar with, but hopefully does so in a way that is new and meaningful. I look forward to finding out if that’s the case, as Audubon is someone I can’t read enough about.

 

Audubon: America’s Greatest Naturalist and His Voyage of Discovery to Labrador
by Peter B. Logan
Hardcover; 816 pages
Ashbryn Press; April 26, 2016
ISBN: 9780997228212
$40.00

Birds in TroubleBirds in Trouble
by Lynn E. Barber

From Texas A&M University Press:

As oil was washing up on the shores of Louisiana, covering shorebirds and their nests and eggs after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Lynn Barber decided to write this book to heighten awareness, not only of the plight of bird species that are declining in numbers every year, but also of the ways in which the birds we see every day may also face the same fate.

First explaining the idea of birds “in trouble”—and what that means in terms of population, conservation status, and national and international designations—the book then turns to the habitats that are important to birds, how they are affected by changes in these habitats, and what ordinary people can do to help counter those negative effects. Barber then profiles forty-two species that are in trouble in the United States, discussing the likely reasons why and what, if anything, we can do to improve their situations. Illustrated throughout with the author’s signature bird art, the book closes with a reminder about what we can do to ensure that the birds we see every day in our yards, parks, and communities will remain with us.

 

The author’s delightful illustrations and personal notes highlight the accounts of 42 in-trouble birds. This is an accessible introduction to problems that birds face and what can be done to help them.

 

Birds in Trouble
by Lynn E. Barber
Flexbound; 220 pages
Texas A&M University Press; April 1, 2016
ISBN: 9781623493592
$29.95