“At length did cross an Albatross, / Through the fog it came; / As if it had been a Christian soul, / We hailed it in God’s name.” The introduction of the albatross in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” remains one of the most well-known references to this majestic seabird in Western culture. In Albatross, Graham Barwell goes beyond Coleridge to examine the role the bird plays in the lives of a wide variety of peoples and societies, from the early views of north Atlantic mariners to modern encounters by writers, artists, and filmmakers.
Exploring how the bird has been celebrated in proverbs, folk stories, art, and ceremonies, Barwell shows how people marvel at the way the albatross soars through the air, covering awe-inspiring distances with little effort thanks to its impressive wingspan. He surveys the many approaches people have taken to thinking about the albatross over the past two hundred years—from those who devoted their lives to these birds to those who hunted them for food and sport—and discusses its place in the human imagination. Concluding with a reflection on the bird’s changing significance in the modern world, Barwell considers threats to its continued existence and its prospects for the future. With one hundred illustrations from nature, film, and popular culture, Albatross is an absorbing look at these beautiful birds.
Edward H. Burtt Jr. Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress QL31.W7B87 2013 | Dewey Decimal 598.092
On the bicentennial of his death, this beautifully illustrated volume pays tribute to the Scot who became the father of American ornithology. Alexander Wilson made unique contributions to ecology and animal behavior. His drawings of birds in realistic poses in their natural habitat inspired Audubon, Spencer Fullerton Baird, and other naturalists.
Whether we live in cities, in the suburbs, or in the country, birds are ubiquitous features of daily life, so much so that we often take them for granted. But even the casual observer is aware that birds don’t fill our skies in the number they once did. That awareness has spawned conservation action that has led to notable successes, including the recovery of some of the nation’s most emblematic species, such as the Bald Eagle, Brown Pelican, Whooping Crane, and Peregrine Falcon. Despite this, a third of all American bird species are in trouble—in many cases, they’re in imminent danger of extinction. The most authoritative account ever published of the threats these species face, The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation will be the definitive book on the subject.
The Guide presents for the first time anywhere a classification system and threat analysis for bird habitats in the United States, the most thorough and scientifically credible assessment of threats to birds published to date, as well as a new list of birds of conservation concern. Filled with beautiful color illustrations and original range maps, the Guide is a timely, important, and inspiring reference for birders and anyone else interested in conserving North America’s avian fauna. But this book is far more than another shout of crisis. The Guide also lays out a concrete and achievable plan of long-term action to safeguard our country’s rich bird life. Ultimately, it is an argument for hope. Whether you spend your early weekend mornings crouched in silence with binoculars in hand, hoping to check another species off your list, or you’ve never given much thought to bird conservation, you’ll appreciate the visual power and intellectual scope of these pages.
Living amniotes—including all mammals, birds, crocodilians, snakes, and turtles—comprise an extraordinarily varied array of more than 21,000 species. Found in every major habitat on earth, they possess a truly remarkable range of morphological, ecological, and behavioral adaptations. The fossil record of amniotes extends back three hundred million years and reveals much about modern biological diversity of form and function.
A collaborative effort of twenty-four researchers, Amniote Paleobiology presents thirteen new and important scientific perspectives on the evolution and biology of this familiar group. It includes new discoveries of dinosaurs and primitive relatives of mammals; studies of mammalian chewing and locomotion; and examinations of the evolutionary process in plesiosaurs, mammals, and dinosaurs. Emphasizing the rich variety of analytical techniques available to vertebrate paleontologists—from traditional description to multivariate morphometrics and complex three-dimensional kinematics—Amniote Paleobiology seeks to understand how species are related to each other and what these relationships reveal about changes in anatomy and function over time. A timely synthesis of modern contributions to the field of evolutionary studies, Amniote Paleobiology furthers our understanding of this diverse group.
The year he graduated from college, 22-year-old Noah Strycker was dropped by helicopter in a remote Antarctic field camp with two bird scientists and a three months’ supply of frozen food. His subjects: more than a quarter million penguins.
Compact, industrious, and approachable, the Adélie Penguins who call Antarctica home visit their breeding grounds each Antarctic summer to nest and rear their young before returning to sea. Because of long-term studies, scientists may know more about how these penguins will adjust to climate change than about any other creature in the world.
Bird scientists like Noah are less well known. Like the intrepid early explorers of Antarctica, modern scientists drawn to the frozen continent face an utterly inhospitable landscape, one that inspires, isolates, and punishes.
With wit, curiosity, and a deep knowledge of his subject, Strycker recounts the reality of life at the end of the Earth—thousand-year-old penguin mummies, hurricane-force blizzards, and day-to-day existence in below freezing temperatures—and delves deep into a world of science, obsession, and birds.
Among Penguins weaves a captivating tale of penguins and their researchers on the coldest, driest, highest, and windiest continent on Earth. Birders, lovers of the Antarctic, and fans of first-person adventure narratives will be fascinated by Strycker’s book.
In nature, the ability to defend against predators is fundamental to an animal's survival. From the giraffes that rely on their spotted coats to blend into the patchy light of their woodland habitats to the South American sea lions that pile themselves in heaps to ward off the killer whales that prey on them in the shallow surf, defense strategies in the animal kingdom are seemingly innumerable.
In Antipredator Defenses in Birds and Mammals, Tim Caro ambitiously synthesizes predator defenses in birds and mammals and integrates all functional and evolutionary perspectives on antipredator defenses that have developed over the last century. Structured chronologically along a hypothetical sequence of predation—Caro evokes a gazelle fawn desperate to survive a cheetah attack to illustrate the continuum of the evolution of antipredator defenses—Antipredator Defenses in Birds and Mammals considers the defenses that prey use to avoid detection by predators; the benefits of living in groups; morphological and behavioral defenses in individuals and groups; and, finally, flight and adaptations of last resort.
Antipredator Defenses in Birds and Mammals will be of interest to both specialists and general readers interested in ecological issues.
Influential American architect Philip Johnson once mused, “All architecture is shelter; all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.” But with just a small swap of a key word, Johnson could well have been describing animal nests. Birds and insects are nature’s premier architects, using a dizzying array of talents to build functional homes in which to live, reproduce, and care for their young. Recycling sticks, branches, grass, and mud to construct their shelters, they are undoubtedly the originators of “green architecture.”
A visual celebration of these natural feats of engineering and ingenuity, Architecture by Birds and Insects allows readers a peek inside a wide range of nests, offering a rare opportunity to get a sense of the materials and methods used to build them. Here, we see the kinds of places where nests are built—for instance, the house wren has been known to occupy cow skulls, flower pots, tin cans, and the pockets of hanging laundry, while the uglynest caterpillar prefers rose bushes and cherry trees. Inspired by the vast nest collection at the Field Museum, which features specimens gathered throughout North and South America, Peggy Macnamara’s paintings are enhanced by text written by museum curators. This narrative provides a foundation in natural history for each painting, as well as fascinating anecdotes about the nests and their builders.
Like so many natural treasures, nests are easy to ignore. But Macnamara’s gorgeous paintings will undoubtedly change that. Architecture by Birds and Insects at last gives the tiniest engineers their rightful moment in the spotlight, and in so doing increases awareness and encourages the protection of birds, insects, and their habitats. Readers will never look at a Frank Gehry design, or a treetop nest, the same way again.
Tiny ruby-throated hummingbirds weighing less than a nickel fly from the upper Midwest to Costa Rica every fall, crossing the six-hundred-mile Gulf of Mexico without a single stop. One of the many creatures that commute on the Mississippi Flyway as part of an annual migration, they pass along Chicago’s lakefront and through midwestern backyards on a path used by their species for millennia. This magnificent migrational dance takes place every year in Chicagoland, yet it is often missed by the region’s two-legged residents. The Art of Migration uncovers these extraordinary patterns that play out over the seasons. Readers are introduced to over two hundred of the birds and insects that traverse regions from the edge of Lake Superior to Lake Michigan and to the rivers that flow into the Mississippi.
As the only artist in residence at the Field Museum, Peggy Macnamara has a unique vantage point for studying these patterns and capturing their distinctive traits. Her magnificent watercolor illustrations capture flocks, movement, and species-specific details. The illustrations are accompanied by text from museum staff and include details such as natural histories, notable features for identification, behavior, and how species have adapted to environmental changes. The book follows a gentle seasonal sequence and includes chapters on studying migration, artist’s notes on illustrating wildlife, and tips on the best ways to watch for birds and insects in the Chicago area.
A perfect balance of science and art, The Art of Migration will prompt us to marvel anew at the remarkable spectacle going on around us.
The human history of depicting birds dates to as many as 40,000 years ago, when Paleolithic artists took to cave walls to capture winged and other beasts. But the art form has reached its peak in the last four hundred years. In The Art of the Bird, devout birder and ornithologist Roger J. Lederer celebrates this heyday of avian illustration in forty artists’ profiles, beginning with the work of Flemish painter Frans Snyders in the early 1600s and continuing through to contemporary artists like Elizabeth Butterworth, famed for her portraits of macaws. Stretching its wings across time, taxa, geography, and artistic style—from the celebrated realism of American conservation icon John James Audubon, to Elizabeth Gould’s nineteenth-century renderings of museum specimens from the Himalayas, to Swedish artist and ornithologist Lars Jonsson’s ethereal watercolors—this book is feathered with art and artists as diverse and beautiful as their subjects. A soaring exploration of our fascination with the avian form, The Art of the Bird is a testament to the ways in which the intense observation inherent in both art and science reveals the mysteries of the natural world.
The Atlas of Wintering North American Birds represents the effects of thousands of people who have participated in the Christmas Bird Counts, an annual event sponsored since 1900 by the National Audubon Society. Unlike a conventional field guide, the Atlas doesn't show what birds look like, but rather tells where to find them in the winter months.
Terry Root has used the data from the 1963-72 counts to provide the first large-scale biogeographical account of birds wintering in North America. Using sophisticated computer techniques, Root has translated the data into both traditional contour maps and innovative new maps that stimulate three dimensions. The maps show at a glance that, for example, the Baltimore Oriole winters primarily along the eastern seaboard, with the densest populations in Florida between Tallahassee and Gainesville and in North Carolina from Rocky Mount to the Croatan National Forest.
An exquisitely illustrated journey through the complex and crucial relationship between humans and birds.
Avian Illuminations examines the many roles birds have played in human society, from food, messengers, deities, and pets, to omens, muses, timekeepers, custodians, hunting companions, decorative motifs, and, most importantly, embodiments of our aspirations. Boria Sax narrates the history of our relationships with a host of bird species, including crows, owls, parrots, falcons, eagles, nightingales, hummingbirds, and many more. Along the way, Sax describes how birds’ nesting has symbolized human romance, how their flight has inspired inventors throughout history, and he concludes by showing that the interconnections between birds and humans are so manifold that a world without birds would effectively mean an end to human culture itself. Beautifully illustrated, Avian Illuminations is a superb overview of humanity’s long and rich association with our avian companions.