Book News

Birdlife of the Gulf of MexicoBirdlife of the Gulf of Mexico
by Joanna Burger

From Texas A&M University Press:

The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most important ecological regions in the world for birds. The mosaic of diverse habitats in the region provides numerous niches for birds. There are productive salt marshes, barrier islands, and sandy beaches for foraging and nesting; a direct pathway between North and Central and South America for migrating; and warm, tropical waters for wintering. Many species are residents all year around, some migrate through, and still others spend the winter along the shores. The Gulf Coast is home to a significant portion of the world’s population of Reddish Egret and Snowy Plover and a significant portion of the US breeding populations of certain birds, including the Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, and Laughing Gull. In total, there are more than 400 bird species that rely on the Gulf at some time during the year.

Drawing on decades of fieldwork and data research, renowned ornithologist and behavioral ecologist Joanna Burger provides detailed descriptions of birdlife in the Gulf of Mexico. Burger records trends in bird population, behavior, and major threats and stressors affecting birds in the region, including the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. While some of this data exists in journal articles, research papers, and government reports, this is the first volume to weave together a comprehensive overview of the birds and related natural resources found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Illustrated with over 900 color photographs, charts, and maps, this landmark reference volume will be immensely important for researchers, conservationists, land managers, birders, and wildlife lovers.


This mammoth book is a tour de force, covering the habitat, birds’ use of such habitat, threats, and status of selected indicator species for the entirety of the Gulf (not just the U.S. portion). I wholeheartedly agree with the statement above that this is an essential resource for researchers, conservationists, and land managers. For birders and wildlife lovers, I wouldn’t go as far as to say essential, but rather highly recommended if you are at all interested in learning more about this region and its birds.


Birdlife of the Gulf of Mexico
by Joanna Burger
Hardcover; 776 pages
Texas A&M University Press; January 2, 2018
ISBN: 9781623495466

The Birder's Guide to AfricaThe Birder’s Guide to Africa
by Michael Mills

From Go-Away-Birding:

The first comprehensive summary of bird watching in the African region, featuring:

  • An Introduction with an analytical overview of birding in the region, including heat maps to illustrate the birding potential of territories within the region.
  • Country Accounts for all 68 territories that comprise the region, detailing information on birds and birding (including lists of key species), travel and literature.
  • Family Accounts for all 142 bird families recorded from the region, with photographs.
  • Species Accounts for all 2,792 bird species, including information on where to best see them.


Are you planning to travel to Africa, or considering doing so? And if so, have you never been to Africa, or have only been to one or two times? If you ansered yes to both of these questions, then you absolutely need this book. It will help you determine where on the continent you should go, based on a number of criteria. And it will help familiarize you with the types of birds you will see there, which is nice because Africa has a multitude of unique families.


The Birder’s Guide to Africa
by Michael Mills
Paperback; 544 pages
Go-Away-Birding; August, 2017
ISBN: 9780620717250

Sage Grouse: Icon of the WestSage Grouse: Icon of the West
by Noppadol Paothong and Kathy Love

From Laguna Wilderness Press:

With up-close and captivating images that have never been documented before, Sage Grouse: Icon of the West introduces this unique and remarkable species and the land they depend upon. It also hopes to deepen the discussion about conservation efforts for the sage-grouse so that our next generation, too, can marvel at their beauty and grace.


This book is large (11.25″ square) and filled with breathtaking photographs, making it a quintecential coffee-table book. But if you can take your eyes off the photos to read it, you will learn much about these birds and the great “sagebrush sea”. If you are at all interested in these birds, this region, conservation, or beautiful bird books, then I highly recommend this one to you.


Sage Grouse: Icon of the West
by Noppadol Paothong and Kathy Love
Hardcover; 180 pages
Laguna Wilderness Press; October, 2017
ISBN: 9780984000739

Birdmania: A Remarkable Passion for BirdsBirdmania: A Remarkable Passion for Birds
by Bernd Brunner

From Greystone Books:

There is no denying that many people are crazy for birds. Packed with intriguing facts and exquisite and rare artwork, Birdmania showcases an eclectic and fascinating selection of bird devotees who would do anything for their feathered friends.

In addition to well-known enthusiasts such as Aristotle, Charles Darwin, and Helen Macdonald, Brunner introduces readers to Karl Russ, the pioneer of “bird rooms”, who had difficulty renting lodgings when landlords realized who he was; George Lupton, a wealthy Yorkshire lawyer, who commissioned the theft of uniquely patterned eggs every year for twenty years from the same unfortunate female guillemot who never had a chance to raise a chick; George Archibald, who performed mating dances for an endangered whooping crane called Tex to encourage her to lay; and Mervyn Shorthouse, who posed as a wheelchair-bound invalid to steal an estimated ten thousand eggs from the Natural History Museum in Tring.

As this book illustrates, people who love birds, whether they are amateurs or professionals, are as captivating and varied as the birds that give flight to their dreams.


A wide-ranging look at some fascinating people – from Aristotle to con-men to Kenn Kaufman – who have succumbed to birdmania.


Birdmania: A Remarkable Passion for Birds
by Bernd Brunner
Hardcover; 228 pages
Greystone Books; October 24, 2017
ISBN: 9781771642774

Birding Without BordersBirding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World
by Noah Strycker

From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

Traveling to 41 countries in 2015 with a backpack and binoculars, Noah Strycker became the first person to see more than half the world’s 10,000 species of birds in one year.

In 2015, Noah Strycker set himself a lofty goal: to become the first person to see half the world’s birds in one year. For 365 days, with a backpack, binoculars, and a series of one-way tickets, he traveled across forty-one countries and all seven continents, eventually spotting 6,042 species—by far the biggest birding year on record.

This is no travelogue or glorified checklist. Noah ventures deep into a world of blood-sucking leeches, chronic sleep deprivation, airline snafus, breakdowns, mudslides, floods, war zones, ecologic devastation, conservation triumphs, common and iconic species, and scores of passionate bird lovers around the globe. By pursuing the freest creatures on the planet, Noah gains a unique perspective on the world they share with us—and offers a hopeful message that even as many birds face an uncertain future, more people than ever are working to protect them.


Over 5,000 birds in one year – sounds fun! And thankfully for us, Strycker’s story is also a fun read.


Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World
by Noah Strycker
Hardcover; 336 pages
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; October 10, 2017
ISBN: 9780544558144

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th EditionNational Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition
by Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer

From National Geographic:

This fully revised edition of the best-selling North American bird field guide is the most up-to-date guide on the market. Perfect for beginning to advanced birders, it is the only book organized to match the latest American Ornithological Society taxonomy.

With more than 2.75 million copies in print, this perennial bestseller is the most frequently updated of all North American bird field guides. Filled with hand-painted illustrations from top nature artists (including the ever-popular hummingbird), this latest edition is poised to become an instant must-have for every serious birder in the United States and Canada. The 7th edition includes 37 new species for a total of 1,023 species; 16 new pages allow for 250 fresh illustrations; 80 new maps; and 350 map revisions. With taxonomy revised to reflect the radical new American Ornithological Society taxonomy established in 2016, the addition of standardized banding codes, and text completely vetted by birding experts, this new edition will top of the list of birding field guides for years to come.


Wow, has it really been six years since the 6th edition? Well, this venerable field guide is back with a new edition. More birds, new illustrations, new maps, and, of course, an ever-new taxonomy. I’ll be posting a detailed look at the changes soon.


National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition
by Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer
Flexicover; 592 pages
National Geographic; September 12, 2017
ISBN: 9781426218354

The Crossley ID Guide: WaterfowlThe Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl
by Richard Crossley, Paul Baicich, and Jessie Barry

From Crossley Books:

The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, published in 2011, revolutionized birding and books by providing the first real-life approach to ID. The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl, the fourth of these user-friendly guides, is for both hunters and birders.

Unlike other guides, which provide isolated individual photographs or paint illustrations, this book features large, lifelike scenes that are ‘painted in pixels.’ Nearly 300 pages of waterfowl scenes – showing waterfowl in a wide range of views – near and far, from different angles, in various plumages and behaviors, including flight, and in the habitat in which they live. These beautiful compositions show how a bird’s appearance changes with distance, and give equal emphasis to characteristics experts use to identify birds: size, structure and shape, behavior, probability, and color. This is the first book to convey all of these features visually – in a single image – and to reinforce them with accurate text. Each scene provides a wealth of detailed visual information that invites and rewards careful study.

By making identification easier, more accurate, and more fun than ever before, The Crossley ID Guides redefine how readers look at nature. Essential for anyone interested in waterfowl, it also promises to make new birders of many people who have despaired of using traditional guides.

This waterfowl guide also carries a strong underlying conservation message. If all the readers of this book come together as one, we can better protect the things we love.

  • Covers all of North America’s ducks, geese, and swans
  • More than 5,000 photos in Crossley-style scenes – seen near and far, from different angles, and in various plumages and behaviors, including flight
  • Includes other wildlife, beautiful scenery, and wing cutouts. Good teachers are fun, create
  • reaction, and are interesting!
  • Lots of mystery photos to challenge you
  • Painting with pixels, rather than a paint brush, created apples to apples imagery
  • Friendly, interactive writing style, cutting-edge ID, conservation, fun facts… and everything between


I’m a big fan of the Crossley ID Guides (if you’re not familiar with them, see my reviews of his guides to Eastern NA and Raptors). They’re excellent “workbooks”, as the author calls them, designed to help you learn the bird before going into the field. This latest volume on the ducks, geese, and swans of North America is no exception. There are tons of images, including the mystery plates that I love so much, and a surprising amount of information.


The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl
by Richard Crossley, Paul Baicich, and Jessie Barry
Flexibound; 510 pages
Crossley Books; June 22, 2017
ISBN: 9780692900352

The Birds of the Falkland Islands: An Annotated ChecklistThe Birds of the Falkland Islands: An Annotated Checklist
by Robin W. Woods

From British Ornithologists’ Club:

This new checklist of the birds of the Falkland Islands is the most comprehensive ever published. Meticulously researched and fully referenced, it represents the culmination of decades of fieldwork by the author and others. It brings together everything that is known about the status and distribution of birds in this fascinating archipelago.

A full introduction covers all the expected biogeographical and ecological ground, with strong emphasis on the history of human–avian interactions and the development of wildlife conservation – both among the author’s special interests. The systematic list covers all 205 species whose occurrence in the Falklands is well-evidenced, plus another 54 species that require further confirmation. Seven appendices and 32 pages of colour photographs complete the work. This definitive account of Falklands birds will be an essential reference for all those with an interest in the amazing wildlife of the South Atlantic.


This is not a field guide. There are 32 pages of nice color photographs, but if you are only interested in identifying the birds you see in the Falklands, this is not the book for you. If, however, you are at all interested in the birds of the Falklands, then this is most definitely a book that you want. The species accounts are highly detailed, focusing on the status and background of the bird in the Falklands. The introduction is detailed as well, covering the islands’ geography, habitats, human impacts, ornithological history, avifauna, and more.


The Birds of the Falkland Islands: An Annotated Checklist
by Robin W. Woods
Paperback; 288 pages
British Ornithologists’ Club; August, 2017
ISBN: 9780952288664

Wildlife of Ecuador: A Photographic Field Guide to Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, and AmphibiansWildlife of Ecuador: A Photographic Field Guide to Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, and Amphibians
by Andrés Vásquez Noboa, photography by Pablo Cervantes Daza

From Princeton University Press:

Mainland Ecuador’s spectacular wildlife makes it a magnet for nature tourists, but until now there hasn’t been a go-to, all-in-one guide geared to the general reader. With this handy and accessible guide, visitors now have everything they need to identify and enjoy the majority of birds and animals they are likely to see. Written and illustrated by two of Ecuador’s most experienced nature guides and photographers, this book covers more than 350 birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. It features over 400 stunning color photographs and includes a range map for each species, as well as a brief account of the country’s natural history and biogeography. With its extensive coverage, attractive and easy-to-use layout, beautiful photographs, and nontechnical text, this is an essential guide for anyone who wants to explore the natural wonders of Ecuador.

  • An essential all-in-one guide to mainland Ecuador’s amazing wildlife
  • Unique and attractive layout with more than 400 stunning color photographs
  • Covers more than 350 of the most frequently seen birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians
  • Uses a habitat-based approach to aid identification
  • Accessible text provides key information on identification, behavior, biology, and conservation
  • Photos, maps, and text are presented together for ease of use


Any nature-loving visitor to Ecuador could make use of this relatively small guide to help identify the mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians most likely to be seen. Birders will still want a more complete, dedicated bird guide, but this one would still be worth having for other wildlife.


Wildlife of Ecuador: A Photographic Field Guide to Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, and Amphibians
by Andrés Vásquez Noboa
Flexicover; 288 pages
Princeton University Press; May 30, 20172
ISBN: 9780691161365

New Book: Cages

August 1, 2017 | Comments (0)

by Sylvia Torti

From Schaffner Press:

Two neurologists are engaged in divergent quests: one to locate the source of memory and the other to study speech patterns in humans by analyzing and manipulating bird vocalization. Both men use experiments on live songbirds in a laboratory on a university campus, and both become romantically intertwined with a woman lab assistant who takes issue with their methods. Overshadowing this trio are significant figures from their individual pasts—a distant mother, a former girlfriend, a best friend and ornithological expert who dies tragically while conducting field research in the Amazon, and a mentor turned lover and nemesis. This is a subtly layered novel rich in natural description and sense of place that grapples with serious philosophical and moral themes, peopled by characters who must confront the emotional truths in their lives in order to be released from their own, individual cages.


It’s nice, every now and then, to read something different. And this novel certainly looks different from the bird books I normally read. But it does still have birds!


by Sylvia Torti
Paperback; 302 pages
Schaffner Press; May 1, 2017
ISBN: 9781943156184