Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Birdbooker Report 109

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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.


FEATURED TITLE:

  1. Svensson, Lars, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom. Birds of Europe (Second Edition). 2010. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 448 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon: $19.77].
    SUMMARY: The 2nd edition of this European bird guide is out! It has increased in size from 400 pages to 448 pages. About 50 species have been added. New artwork has been added ( I especially like the plate of vagrant wildfowl on page 47.). The text and range maps have been revised.
    RECOMMENDATION: The best field guide to the birds of Europe and one of the best field guides worldwide!

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Chansigaud, Valerie. All About Birds: A Short Illustrated History of Ornithology. 2010. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 239 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon: $21.86].
    SUMMARY: This title examines the development of ornithology from ancient times to the present day. It is well illustrated often with period bird art. The book also contains a 20-page timeline detailing every significant ornithological event during the past two millennia.
    RECOMMENDATION: It’s a good introduction to the history of ornithology.
  2. Laws, Bill. The Field Guide to Fields: Hidden Treasures of Meadows, Prairies, and Pastures. 2010. National Geographic. Paperback: 223 pages. Price: $21.95 U.S. [Amazon: $14.81].
    SUMMARY: For millennia, fields in their myriad forms have been among the most fundamental elements of the landscape of human civilization. Illustrated with 300 photographs and handsome linocut-style prints, the book explains how different landscapes, climates, and cultures produced a variety of field types, from the terraced rice paddies of Southeast Asia to the impenetrable hedgerows of Northwest Europe, each reflecting both ancient traditions and agricultural progress. We see how Old World methods were adapted to new environments like the American prairie, the Australian outback, the African veldt, and the Argentinean pampas. We trace the development of the implements we’ve devised to work our fields, from hand tools to modern tractors and mechanical harvesters.
    RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction into the ecology of fields. I like the linocut-style color prints, which reminded me of the cover art from the British New Naturalist series.
  3. Merritt, Joseph F. The Biology of Small Mammals. 2010. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 313 pages. Price: $60.00 U.S. [Amazon: $43.20].
    SUMMARY: This is the first exploration of the lives of small mammals undertaken in decades. Mammalogist Joseph F. Merritt offers an engaging, in — depth discussion about a diverse array of small mammals, from the rare Kitti’s hog — nosed bat of Southeast Asia to the bizarre aye-aye of Madagascar to the familiar woodchuck of North America. Small mammals include those mammals weighing under five kilograms (approximately eleven pounds). Merritt introduces the various species that fall under this heading, then follows with chapters that cover such topics as behavior, modes of feeding, locomotion, habitat use, reproduction, and coping with heat loss.
    RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in mammals.
  4. Tilson, Ronald and Philip J. Nyhus (editors). Tigers of the World: The Science, Politics, and Conservation of Panthera tigris (second edition). 2010. Academic Press. Hardbound: 524 pages. Price: $99.95 U.S. [Amazon: $79.96].
    SUMMARY: The second edition of Tigers of the World explores tiger biology, ecology, conservation, management, and the science and technology that make this possible. In 1988 when the first edition was published, tiger conservation was still in its infancy, and two decades later there has been a revolution not only in what is known, but how information about tigers is obtained and disseminated. In the fast changing world of conservation there is a great need to summarize the vast and current state-of-the-art, to put this into historical perspective, and to speculate in what yet remains to be done.
    RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in tigers.

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!