Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Birdbooker Report 120

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Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.

~ Arnold Lobel [1933-1987] author of many popular children’s books.

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. Howell, Steve N.G. Peterson Reference Guides: Molt in North American Birds. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 267 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. [Amazon: $23.10].
    SUMMARY: Here, for the first time, molt is presented for the nonscientist. Molt is very orderly and built on only four underlying strategies: simple basic, complex basic, simple alternate, and complex alternate. This book clearly lays out these strategies, relates them to aspects of life history, such as habitat and migration, and makes this important subject accessible. The book is divided into two sections: introduction and family accounts. It is well illustrated with color photographs.
    RECOMMENDATION: For intermediate to advanced level birders.

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Dunne, Peter. Bayshore Summer: Finding Eden in a Most Unlikely Place. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 262 pages. Price: $24.00 U.S.[Amazon: $16.32].
    SUMMARY: Bypassed by time and “Joisey” Shore-bound vacationers, the marshes and forests of the Bayshore constitute one of North America’s last great undiscovered wild places. Sixty million people live within a tank of gas of this environmentally rich and diverse place, yet most miss out on the region’s amazing spectacles. Bayshore Summer is a bridge that links the rest of the world to this timeless land. Pete Dunne acts as ambassador and tour guide, following Bayshore residents as they haul crab traps, bale salt hay, stake out deer poachers, and pick tomatoes. He examines and appreciates this fertile land, how we live off it and how all of us connect with it. From the shorebirds that converge by the thousands to gorge themselves on crab eggs to the delicious fresh produce that earned the Garden State its nickname, from the line-dropping expectancy of party boat fishing to the waterman who lives on a first-name basis with the birds around his boat, Bayshore Summer is at once an expansive and intimate portrait of a special place, a secret Eden, and a glimpse into a world as rich as summer and enduring as a whispered promise.
    RECOMMENDATION: If you liked Dunne’s Prairie Spring, you’ll like this title (book two of his seasonal series).
  2. Loxton, Daniel. Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be. 2010. Kids Can Press. Hardbound: 56 pages. Price: $18.95 U.S. [Amazon: $12.69].
    SUMMARY: Evolution is the process that created the terrible teeth of Tyrannosaurus rex and the complex human brain, clever enough to understand the workings of nature. Young readers will learn how a British naturalist named Charles Darwin studied nature and developed his now-famous concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest. And how modern-day science has added to our understanding of the theory of evolution.
    Can something as complex and wondrous as the natural world be explained by a simple theory? The answer is yes, and now this book explains how in a way that makes it easy to understand.
    RECOMMENDATION: For ages 8 to 13.
  3. Mather, Jennifer A., et al. Octopus: The Ocean’s Intelligent Invertebrate. 2010. Timber Press. Hardbound: 208 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S. [Amazon: $17.13].
    SUMMARY: In this beautifully photographed book, three leading marine biologists bring readers face to face with these amazingly complex animals that have fascinated scientists for decades. From the molluscan ancestry of today’s octopus to its ingenious anatomy, amazing mating and predatory behaviors, and other-worldly relatives, the authors take readers through the astounding life cycle, uncovering the details of distinctive octopus personalities. With personal narratives, underwater research, stunning closeup photography, and thoughtful guidance for keeping octopuses in captivity, this book is the first comprehensive natural history of this smart denizen of the sea.
    RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in octopodes.
  4. Moskowitz, David. Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest: Tracking and Identifying Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Invertebrates. 2010. Timber Press. Flexibinding: 364 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S. [Amazon: $17.13].
    SUMMARY: This book includes illustrated descriptions for more than 180 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates most common in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, northern California, Idaho, and western Montana. With more than 460 photographs, hundreds of scale drawings, and more than 90 distribution maps, it belongs in every pack and is a must-have for nature lovers of all ages and skill levels.
    RECOMMENDATION: A useful guide for Pacific Northwest naturalists.
  5. Stutchbury, Bridget. The Private Lives of Birds: A Scientist Reveals the Intricacies of Avian Social Life. 2010. Walker and Company. Hardbound: 249 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S. [Amazon: $16.50].
    SUMMARY: The Private Lives of Birds is a treasure trove of fascinating insights into bird behavior. But understanding the social lives of birds does much more than slake our curiosity. Aware that many birds will not occupy an area unless other birds are already there, biologists used mirrors and two-dimensional cutouts to lure Atlantic puffins to establish colonies off the coast of Maine, getting curious puffins to visit the site and linger long enough to encounter a live bird. As Stutchbury says, “Trying to save birds without understanding what makes them tick is a shot in the dark … birds are highly social, and their social needs are at least as important as their physical needs.”
    RECOMMENDATION: An interesting introduction into bird biology.

You can read all the Birdbooker Reports in the archives on this site, and Ian now has his own website, The Birdbooker Report, 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!