Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Birdbooker Report 87

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“How does one distinguish a truly civilized nation from an aggregation of
barbarians? That is easy. A civilized country produces much good bird
–Edgar Kincaid

The Birdbooker Report is a special weekly report of a wide variety of science, nature and behavior books that currently are, or soon will be available for purchase. This report is written by one of my Seattle birding pals and book collector, Ian “Birdbooker” Paulsen, and is edited by me and published here for your information and enjoyment. Below the fold is this week’s issue of The Birdbooker Report which lists ecology, environment, natural history and bird books that are (or will soon be) available for purchase.


  1. Cabot, David. Wildfowl. 2009. Collins. Paperback: 460 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S. [Amazon: $36.50]. SUMMARY: This title in the New Naturalist series covers the 56 species of waterfowl found in Britain and Ireland. Topics include: Wildfowl and People, Status and Distribution (in Britain and Ireland), Biology and Conservation. Since most of these species occur in North America, this book will be useful for North American birders. Also available from Buteo Books.

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Barrow, Mark V. Jr. Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology. 2009. University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 497 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. [Amazon: $23.10]. SUMMARY: The author investigates the history of the conservation movement in North America, from the realization that it was not only possible for entire species to die out, but that humans themselves could be responsible for their extinction. That realization resulted in public education and legislative campaigns that laid the foundation for the modern environmental movement and the preservation of such iconic creatures as the bald eagle, the California condor, and the whooping crane. Anyone interested in the history of conservation will want to read this book. GrrlScientist comment: I have a keen lifelong interest in conservation and would really enjoy reading and reviewing this book, particularly in view of the fact that many of the species that started the movement in the USA were birds.
  2. Rupke, Nicolaas. Richard Owen: Biology Without Darwin, a Revised Edition. 2009. University of Chicago Press. Paperback: 344 pages. Price: $29.00 U.S. [Amazon: $20.88]. SUMMARY: Richard Owen (1804-1892) was one of Victorian England’s top naturalists. But his work was overshadowed by Charles Darwin. Owen was marginalized by his contemporaries for his critique of natural selection (rather nasty attacks, from what I’ve read), Owen suffered personal attacks that undermined his credibility long after his name faded from history. Anyone with an interest in science history will find this book to be interesting and thought-provoking.
  3. Telford, Maximilian J. and D.T.J. Littlewood. Animal Evolution: Genomes, Fossils, and Trees. 2009. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 245 pages. Price: $80.00 U.S. [Amazon: $69.13]. SUMMARY: This book reviews advances in animal evolution in the past decade. Topics covered include: phylogeny reconstruction, comparative developmental biology, genome evolution, and other modern techniques and how they relate to older morphologically-based techniques. Anyone with a technical interest in animal evolution will want to read this book. GrrlScientist comment: This book looks absolutely fascinating to this evolutionary biologist, and I’d love to read and review it on my blog!
  4. Grussing, Don. The Seasons of the Robin. 2009. University of Texas Press. Hardbound: 146 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S. [Amazon: $16.47]. SUMMARY: This book is the fictionalized account of the first year of life of a young male American Robin, written from the bird’s point of view. Although a work of fiction, the book uses factual natural history information to explore the life cycle of the robin.

You can read all the Birdbooker Reports in the archives on this site, and Ian now has his own website, The Birdbooker’s Bookcase, where you can read his synopses about newly published science, nature and animal books. But Ian assures me that he still loves us here, so he’ll still share his weekly Birdbooker Reports with us!