Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Birdbooker Report 106

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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
literature.”
–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.

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Henderson, Carrol L. Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. 2010. University of Texas Press. Paperback: 387 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon: $19.77].
    SUMMARY: The author has created a dedicated field guide to the birds that travelers are most likely to see, as well as to the unique or endemic species that are of high interest to birders. Birds of Costa Rica covers 310 birds — an increase of 124 species from the earlier volume — with fascinating accounts of the birds’ natural history, identification, and behavior gleaned from Henderson’s forty years of traveling and birding in Costa Rica. All of the accounts include beautiful photographs of the birds, most of which were taken in the wild by Henderson. There are new updated distribution maps and a detailed appendix that identifies many of the country’s best birding locations and lodges, including contact information for trip planning purposes.
    RECOMMENDATION: For beginner birders or ecotravelers visiting Costa Rica.
  2. Lawson, Barrett. A Bird-Finding Guide to Costa Rica. 2009. Cornell University Press. Paperback: 365 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon: $19.77].
    SUMMARY: The author describes fifty-three of the best birding destinations in Costa Rica. Birders will appreciate the detailed descriptions of how to bird each area, as well as the site-specific lists: “Target Birds” and “Species to Expect.” The site descriptions are structured for ease of use and clarity; each provides a general introduction, exact driving directions, road maps, and lodging information. Other important elements include a general introduction to Costa Rica, an overview of tropical birds, sample itineraries, a comprehensive checklist to the birds of the country, and information about the best locations to find endemics and other sought-after species. The sites are grouped into six regions that reflect general patterns of avian distribution; this helps readers understand Costa Rica’s complex bird diversity as well as plan a dynamic trip.
    RECOMMENDATION: Birders traveling to Costa Rica will find this book useful.
  3. Hoare, Philip. The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea. 2010. Ecco Books. Hardbound: 453 pages. Price: $27.99 U.S. [Amazon: $16.79].
    SUMMARY: The Whale by Philip Hoare is an enthralling and eye-opening literary leviathan swimming in similar bestselling waters as Cod and The Secret Life of Lobsters. Winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction, The Whale is a lively travelogue through the history, literature, and lore of the king of the sea–the remarkable mammals that we human beings have long been fascinated with, from Moby Dick to Free Willy.
    RECOMMENDATION: Anyone interested in whales will want to read this book!

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!