Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Birdbooker Report 127

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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, environment and behavior books and field guides 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. Fitter, Julian. Bateman Field Guide to the Wildlife of New Zealand. 2010. David Bateman Ltd. Paperback: 276 pages. Price: about $23.00 U.S. (plus shipping). [Amazon: £16.14].
    SUMMARY: At last a single field guide that covers New Zealand’s plants, birds, insects and animals for visitors and New Zealanders interested in this country’s natural history. When author Julian Fitter first visited New Zealand he was amazed at the number of field guides to birds, plants, insects, marine life and to specific locations – alpine, forest, seashore. But for the traveller not wanting to cart around a library-shelf of books there was no single volume that described the major and most interesting species covering all NZ’s flora and fauna. As author of a natural history field guide to the Galapagos, he set about compiling such a book for New Zealand. The result is a small format, full colour guidebook packed with information on all the species that either are most important, or most obvious to those touring the country covering birds, insects, reptiles, marine mammals, land mammals, trees and shrubs, vines and epiphytes, herbs, ferns, grasses, mosses and lichens as well as a brief survey of New Zealand’s varied habitats and fascinating geological history, including major geothermal areas. Over 600 species are described described in detail, with accompanying information on habitat and a full colour photograph and organised in such as way as to make identification as easy as possible.
    RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to the flora and fauna of New Zealand. I wish it had range maps though! Available from Britain as: Field Guide to the Wildlife of New Zealand.
  2. Gill, Brian. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand (fourth edition). 2010. Te Papa Press. Paperback: 501 pages. Price: about $73.00 U.S. (plus shipping). [Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand): $ 100.00].
    SUMMARY: Greatly revised and expanded, the new edition of this highly respected guide is the must-have reference for birds in the New Zealand region — including Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand provides details of the nomenclature, taxonomy, classification, status, and distribution (current, historical, and fossil) of every known living and extinct species of New Zealand bird. For the first time, it also includes complete synonymies. More than fifty birds have been added to the new edition, along with thorough bibliographic references, updated maps, a list of Māori bird names, and a full index.
    RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone interested in the birds of New Zealand!
  3. Honkala, Juha and Seppo Niiranen. A Birdwatching Guide to South-East Brazil. 2010. Portal Do Bosque. Paperback: 416 pages. Price: about $44.00 U.S. (plus shipping). [NHBS: £28.99].
    SUMMARY: The site descriptions include information on some 50 excellent birdwatching sites throughout South-East Brazil with accurate directions on how-to-get-there, details of what to see and expect, plus important information on conditions. In addition, the book includes illustrations of 558 species. The species accounts include all the detail necessary for field identification of the 471 species recorded in the Agulhas Negras area, in the heart of South-East Brazil, plus scientific and common names in English and Portuguese, size, voice descriptions, subspecies, habitat, distribution and status in the area. Each species is illustrated with a high quality, full color photograph. Range maps show the birds’ distribution in Brazil. A comprehensive species list of South-East Brazil, bibliography and a list of useful addresses and websites completes the volume.
    RECOMMENDATION: A useful photographic guide for the region.
  4. Kirwan, Guy, Arturo Kirkconnell and Mike Flieg. A Birdwatchers’ Guide to Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and The Caymans. 2010. Prion Ltd. Paperback: 198 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. [NHBS: £16.99].
    SUMMARY: This guide covers the Greater Antilles, which comprises five groups of islands and six countries. From Cuba, with about 360 species, to the Cayman Islands with just over 220 species, the Greater Antilles have recorded just over 550 species and this total contains more than 100 single island endemics and many more restricted range species making these islands a very attractive proposition to the visiting birder. The site accounts have details of location, birding strategy, accommodation and, of course, the birds. More than 80 sites are detailed, many with accompanying maps. A full species lists shows exactly what has been seen in each country, and the selective list helps to target the best places to visit. As well as covering the very best birding sites, the authors have also tried to include some locations close to main holiday centers used by birders with families. Also available from Buteo Books (USA).
    RECOMMENDATION: A very useful birding guide to the region.

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!