Book News

Birds of Western Africa 2nd EditionBirds of Western Africa: Second Edition
by Nik Borrow and Ron Demey

From Princeton University Press:

This revised and expanded edition of Birds of Western Africa is now the most up-to-date field guide available to the 1,285 species of birds found in the region–from Senegal and southern Mauritania east to Chad and the Central African Republic and south to Congo. It now features all maps and text opposite the plates for quick and easy reference. The comprehensive species accounts have been fully updated and expanded, and the color distribution maps have been completely revised. This premier guide also includes more than 3,000 illustrations on 266 stunning color plates.

Compact and lightweight, this new edition of Birds of Western Africa is the must-have field guide to one of the most exciting birding regions in the world.

  • The premier field guide to West African birds–now completely revised and expanded
  • Covers all 1,285 species found in the region
  • Features fully updated maps and text opposite the plates for easy reference

 

The timing of this new edition could be better – I doubt many birders are going to this region right now. Hopefully, this horrible Ebola outbreak will be over soon. And when it is, this looks like a good field guide to have for the region.

 

Birds of Western Africa: Second Edition
by Nik Borrow and Ron Demey
Paperback; 592 pages
Princeton University Press; October 26, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691159201
$45.00

The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North AmericaThe Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America
by Donald and Lillian Stokes

From Little, Brown and Company:

A new landmark in nature guides: the most authoritative, beautiful, and useful national pocket guide to birds.

Pocket-size, brilliantly colorful, and easy to use, THE STOKES ESSENTIAL POCKET GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA contains everything you need to identify and enjoy birds in your backyard and beyond. Whether you’re age 9 or 90, whether you’re a novice or advanced birder, this book will help you identify birds quickly and accurately. It offers more than 580 stunning color photographs, coverage of more than 250 species, key identification clues, descriptions of songs and calls, notes on feeding and nesting behavior, advice on selecting bird feeders and binoculars, important behavioral information and key habitat preferences, and up-to-date range maps.

The culmination of many years of research, observation, and study, this book is factually, visually, and organizationally superior to any other beginner’s guide on the market.

 

Large, stunning photographs highlight this new compact field guide, but it also has lots of useful information for new and budding birders.

 

The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America
by Donald and Lillian Stokes
Paperback; 288 pages
Little, Brown and Company; October 14, 2014
ISBN: 978-0316010511
$15.00

Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North AmericaDucks, Geese, and Swans of North America
by Guy Baldassarre

From Johns Hopkins University Press:

Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America has been hailed as a classic since the first edition was published in 1942. A must-have for professional biologists, birders, waterfowl hunters, decoy collectors, and wildlife managers, this fully revised and updated edition provides definitive information on the continent’s forty-six species. Maps of both winter and breeding ranges are presented with stunning images by top waterfowl photographers and the acclaimed original artwork of Robert W. Bob) Hines. Originally authored by F. H. Kortright and later revised by Frank Bellrose, this latest edition, which has been meticulously updated by renowned waterfowl biologist Guy Baldassarre, continues the legacy of esteemed authors. Each species account contains in-depth sections on: • identification• distribution• migration behavior• habitat• population status• breeding biology• rearing of young• recruitment and survival• food habits and feeding ecology • molts and plumages• conservation and management To facilitate identification, the species accounts also include detailed illustrations of wings. An appendix contains comparative illustrations of ducklings, goslings, and cygnets. This edition of Ducks, Geese, and Swans consists of two volumes, printed in full color, and packaged in a slipcase, along with a CD containing references and additional maps.

 

Wow, this thing is huge! This is a two-volume set, housed in a slipcase. Each of the hardcover books is large and looks great. Its focus isn’t identification (although it does cover that and has lots of photos and some great artwork), but does have just about anything you would want to know about this group of birds.

Preview an excerpt of Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America

 

Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America
by Guy Baldassarre
Hardcover; 1088 pages
Johns Hopkins University Press; September 24, 2014
ISBN: 978-1421407517
$69.95

The World of BirdsThe World of Birds
by Jonathan Elphick

From Firefly Books:

The ultimate illustrated, authoritative reference to the avian world.

Written by a highly regarded ornithologist and natural history expert and sumptuously illustrated throughout with photographs and illustrations, The World of Birds is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to every aspect of bird life and a concise survey of the world’s orders and families.

Jonathan Elphick begins by defining the distinguishing features of birds before going on to describe their evolution since the age of the dinosaurs. With the aid of fact boxes and clear photographs, he then explores in greater detail each of the significant elements of bird life.

Topics include:

  • bird biology including anatomy, walking and swimming, plumage, calls and songs
  • flight techniques and styles
  • food and feeding
  • bird lifestyles and social relationships
  • breeding, growth and development
  • bird geography and habitats
  • the mysteries of migration

He also considers human attitudes towards birds through the ages.

The book contains a comprehensive survey of the world’s birds (including extinct species), detailing every one of the 29 orders and each of the approximately 200 families. Reflecting the latest classification changes to the Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, it explains how birds are classified and provides an outline of the system of classification.

With special photography from award-winning wildlife photographer David Tipling, this book is a unique insight into the world of birds and essential reading for all ornithologists, bird watchers and natural history enthusiasts.

 

Wow, this book contains a LOT of information. The first part is a mini-course in ornithology, while the second provides an overview of the world’s birds at the order and family level.

 

The World of Birds
by Jonathan Elphick
Hardcover; 608 pages
Firefly Books; September 11, 2014
ISBN: 978-1770853041
$75.00

HummingbirdsHummingbirds
by Ronald I. Orenstein, with photographs by Michael and Patricia Fogden

From Firefly Books:

A comprehensive natural history of nature’s smallest bird species.

The tiny hummingbird has long been a source of fascination for birdwatchers and naturalists alike. They number 300 species and Ronald Orenstein has a passion for all of them.

Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world. A hummingbird egg is the size of a pea, barely, and the chick that emerges will be smaller than a penny, if that. But these tiny birds pack a powerful engine: a hummingbird’s heart beats more than 1,200 times per minute.

Nicknamed the “avian helicopter”, a hummingbird’s wings beat from 70 times per second in direct flight, to more than 200 times per second when diving. Not surprisingly, that whirlwind of wing power creates a humming sound. To fuel such energy, hummingbirds must eat as much as eight times their body weight on a daily basis, which means visiting an average of 1,000 flowers — every day — to get enough nectar.

Hummingbirds are found in North and South America, with the greatest number in Ecuador, although some species breed as far north as Canada. Most species migrate from Mexico to Alaska, a distance of more than 5,000 miles.

In this book Orenstein covers all aspects of hummingbird natural history, their relationship with the plants on which they feed, the miracle of their flight, their elaborate social life and nesting behavior, and their renowned feats of migration.

More than 170 color photographs of these magnificent creatures, taken in the wild, adorn the pages of Hummingbirds. Birders and natural history readers alike will gain new insight into the tiny bird and revel in the stunning images.

 

In the first third of this book, Orenstein focuses his text on what makes hummingbirds unique, with emphasis on recent discoveries. The remainder of the book is a portfolio of photos by the Fogdens, probably the world’s preeminent hummingbird photographers. There are 200 photos of 70 hummingbird species, and they are amazing. The book isn’t perfect (I wish there had been more variety in the photographed species), but this is easily the most spectacular collection of hummingbird pictures that I’ve seen.

 

Hummingbirds
by Ronald I. Orenstein
Hardcover; 256 pages
Firefly Books; September 11, 2014
ISBN: 978-1770854000
$35.00

The Secret Lives of PuffinsThe Secret Lives of Puffins
by Dominic Couzens and Mark Sisson

From Bloomsbury:

Puffins are among the most instantly recognisable, iconic and well loved of birds. For many they are a highlight of the UK’s summer coastline and their colourful appearance, comedy antics and approachability just add to their popularity. Several ‘hotspot’ are attracting high levels of interest in visits to their colonies. In spite of the high level of interest in, and appeal of, these birds there has been a surprising lack of books focused on Puffins as a species.

Award-winning wildlife photographer Mark Sisson has spent several years photographing Puffins and this new book combines images that beautifully encapsulate their charm and visual appeal with an accessible text written by leading wildlife writer Dominic Couzens. The book covers the birds’ life cycle, behaviour, habitats and the current and future challenges that they face, along with many surprising facts and anecdotes.

 

This book was published in the UK earlier this year, but just recently in the US. Some great pictures here. A couple of things to note: this is exclusively about Atlantic Puffins, specifically those in Europe. Obviously, the natural history info is location independent, but just don’t expect anything specifically about North American puffins or where to see them.

 

The Secret Lives of Puffins
by Dominic Couzens and Mark Sisson
Hardcover; 176 pages
Bloomsbury; January 28, 2014
ISBN: 978-1408186671
$35.00

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America 2nd EditionNational Geographic Complete Birds of North America, 2nd Edition
by Jonathan Alderfer

From National Geographic:

Essential, comprehensive, and easy to use, the revised edition of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America is an astonishing resource that covers every bird species found in North America as well as all the seasonal visitors. Entries are organized by family group, the taxonomic organization newly updated to match current American Ornithologists’ Union guidelines. Within a family, each separate bird entry has dozens of tips and illustrations on species’ gender, age group, behavior, habitat, nesting and feeding habits, and migration routes. Providing full information on more than 1,000 species, this book features hundreds of range and migration maps, cutting-edge information on identification, and more than 4000 annotated illustrations by expert bird artists.

 

You can think of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America as a greatly expanded NatGeo field guide with additional text and photographs. It’s a great reference for when you need a more detailed description of a bird or help with a difficult identification.

 

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America, 2nd Edition
by Jonathan Alderfer
Hardcover; 744 pages
National Geographic; October 7, 2014
ISBN: 1426213735
$40.00

The Passenger PigeonThe Passenger Pigeon
by Errol Fuller

From Princeton University Press:

At the start of the nineteenth century, Passenger Pigeons were perhaps the most abundant birds on the planet, numbering literally in the billions. The flocks were so large and so dense that they blackened the skies, even blotting out the sun for days at a stretch. Yet by the end of the century, the most common bird in North America had vanished from the wild. In 1914, the last known representative of her species, Martha, died in a cage at the Cincinnati Zoo.

This stunningly illustrated book tells the astonishing story of North America’s Passenger Pigeon, a bird species that–like the Tyrannosaur, the Mammoth, and the Dodo–has become one of the great icons of extinction. Errol Fuller describes how these fast, agile, and handsomely plumaged birds were immortalized by the ornithologist and painter John James Audubon, and captured the imagination of writers such as James Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain. He shows how widespread deforestation, the demand for cheap and plentiful pigeon meat, and the indiscriminate killing of Passenger Pigeons for sport led to their catastrophic decline. Fuller provides an evocative memorial to a bird species that was once so important to the ecology of North America, and reminds us of just how fragile the natural world can be.

Published in the centennial year of Martha’s death, The Passenger Pigeon features rare archival images as well as haunting photos of live birds.

 

A good introduction to Passenger Pigeons and their unfortunate fate. It’s filled with some great art (both old and new) and even photos of live birds.

 

The Passenger Pigeon
by Errol Fuller
Hardcover; 184 pages
Princeton University Press; September 15, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691162959
$29.95

Penguins: The Ultimate GuidePenguins: The Ultimate Guide
by Tui De Roy, Mark Jones, and Julie Cornthwaite

From Princeton University Press:

Penguins are perhaps the most beloved birds. On land, their behavior appears so humorous and expressive that we can be excused for attributing to them moods and foibles similar to our own. Few realize how complex and mysterious their private lives truly are, as most of their existence takes place far from our prying eyes, hidden beneath the ocean waves. This stunningly illustrated book provides a unique look at these extraordinary creatures and the cutting-edge science that is helping us to better understand them. Featuring more than 400 breathtaking photos, this is the ultimate guide to all 18 species of penguins, including those with retiring personalities or nocturnal habits that tend to be overlooked and rarely photographed.

A book that no bird enthusiast or armchair naturalist should do without, Penguins includes discussions of penguin conservation, informative species profiles, fascinating penguin facts, and tips on where to see penguins in the wild.

  • Covers all 18 species of the world’s penguins
  • Features more than 400 photos
  • Explores the latest science on penguins and their conservation
  • Includes informative species profiles and fascinating penguin facts

 

This book is very similar to the previous Tui De Roy and Mark Jones collaboration, Albatross: Their World, Their Ways (probably my favorite bird-family book ever). That means it is big, filled with gorgeous photographs, and packed with great information.

 

Penguins: The Ultimate Guide
by Tui De Roy, Mark Jones, and Julie Cornthwaite
Hardcover; 240 pages
Princeton University Press; August 24, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691162997
$35.00

52 Small Birds52 Small Birds
by Richard Weeks

From Richard Weeks:

Wood warblers are among the most sought-after of the spring migrants. The small, colorful birds provide motivation for thousands of birders from throughout the world to travel to locations both popular and obscure. 52 Small Birds describes the eight year quest of a bird artist to photograph and paint the 52 breeding warblers of the United States. Comfortably retired and enjoying his passion as an artist, the author was in his 60s when he discovered the joys and challenges of birding. His desire—perhaps more rightly described as a fixation—to document warblers led to 11 trips to eight different states, which are described in narration, journal sketches, photographs, and paintings. This narrative relates how the process of searching for, photographing, and painting birds both enhanced and deepened the author’s connection to the natural world.

 

Not a new book, but I just discovered it this week and am really enjoying it so far. The art and photography are nice, but the narrative is also very good. And, of course, it’s about warblers!

 

52 Small Birds
by Richard Weeks
Paperback; 140 pages
Luminare Press; February 28, 2014
ISBN: 978-1937303228
$26.95