Birdbooker Report 36

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“One cannot have too many good bird books”
–Ralph Hoffmann, Birds of the Pacific States (1927).

The Birdbooker Report is a special weekly report of wide variety of science, nature and behavior books that 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 published here for your enjoyment. Here’s this week’s issue of the Birdbooker Report by which lists ecology, environment, natural history and bird books that are (or will soon be) available for purchase.


  1. Dunn, Jon L. and Jonathan Alderfer (editors). National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern/Western North America (2 volumes). 2008. National Geographic Society. Paperbound: 432/447 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S. each. [Eastern Birds: Amazon: $13.57; Western Birds: Amazon: $13.57]. SUMMARY: The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America has now been divided into eastern/western regional guides, roughly using the Rocky Mountains as the dividing line. The plates and texts have been reworked to cover the given regions of the books. Other changes include a visual index of bird families on the inside front and back covers, new and larger maps by Paul Lehman, and the latest taxonomy. The two new features I like the most are the “ID Footnotes” that cover such topics as: Rock Sandpiper subspecies, gull age classes, western Empidonax flycatchers, etc. and the “annotated field marks” that are labeled directly onto the plates. Some of the artwork on the plates have been redone. I especially like the new artwork of the following species (from the western guide): Brant, Thick-billed Murre, and Black Guillemot. I highly recommend these two new guides!

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Green, Jen and Luis V. Rey. Dinosaurs in the Round. 2008. Random House Children’s Books. Hardbound: 3 carousel-type pop-up dioramas and a 24 page booklet. Price: $19.99 U.S. [Amazon: $15.59]. SUMMARY: The three pop-up dioramas cover the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods. The artwork is by Luis V. Rey, one of my favorite paleoartists. The twenty-four page booklet goes into the natural history of the dinosaurs and other species from these time periods. This book is recommended for children ages 7-12.
  2. Pepperberg, Irene M. Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence — and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process. 2008. Collins. Hardbound: 232 pages. Price: $23.95 U.S. [Amazon: $16.29]. SUMMARY: This book chronicles the 30-year study of animal cognition by Irene Pepperberg and her famous “test subject” Alex the African Gray Parrot (1976-2007). GrrlScientist comment: I am supposed to be receiving this book in the mail any day now. I received a pre-release chapter of the book that I reviewed seven months ago that you might want to read.
  3. Weidensaul, Scott. Of A Feather: A Brief History of American Birding. 2007. Harcourt. Paperback: 358 pages. Price: $15.00 U.S. [Amazon: $10.20]. SUMMARY: A concise history of American birding from colonial times to the present, when powerful binoculars and other sophisticated technologies revolutionized the activity. Includes descriptions of many early naturalists who shot and collected birds, including Mark Catesby, John and William Bartram, some military men and an intrepid woman named Martha Maxwell. By the late 19th century, entire bird populations had been decimated for sport, food and the millinery trade, formidable society ladies demanded bird protection, so the Audubon Society was created and recreational birding, featuring binoculars instead of guns, was born, aided by the emergence of field guides like Roger Tory Peterson’s.

About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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