Look at a perched Gyrfalcon; they are pure muscle just waiting to be put into motion. Peregrine Falcons have a dark, brooding look; even in full sunlight they still give the feeling of being partially in shadow. Merlins are compact packages of energy and ferocity; ever on the very verge of flight. American Kestrels are, well… to be honest, they’re cute. When perched on a utility wire strung along a roadway, their boldly delineated blue gray, reddish brown, and white plumage combine with their small size, round heads and stubby beaks to give them as much the appearance of an anime character as a highly effective avian predator. Yet make no mistake; American Kestrels are every bit as masterful hunters as their larger relations.
Kate Davis, founder of Raptors of the Rockies, has spent decades photographing these smallest of North American falcons, and in her American Kestrel; Pint-sized Predator, she teams up with fellow photographer Rob Palmer to present a truly captivating as well as highly informative portrait of the lives of her subjects. Relying as much on brilliant photography every bit as much as clearly written text to explain the life history of the species, the book is exceptionally approachable for even the most novice bird watcher. Keep reading…
Recent Book Reviews
When taking up Jan Zalasiewicz’ and Mark Williams’ Ocean Worlds; The Story of Seas on Earth and Other Planets be prepared to go deep – deep into the oceans, deep into the Earth, deep into space, and even deep into time itself. For as the authors make very clear, an understanding of the Earth’s oceans requires not just learning about their present existence but their past ones as well. And if one is to understand the history of the planet’s oceans, an understanding of not just when they came to be but how is also necessary; which in turn requires examining the existence of water itself, not just on Earth but throughout the universe. Keep reading…
Not so very long ago I needed to know what the primary language spoken in Tanzania is. I could have turned on the computer, waited for it to go through its start-up protocols, opened a browser and called up Google, in the search field of which I could have entered something like “primary language in Tanzania,” and when the results came up began to sort through them for a site that might have the correct answer to my question. Or, I could have opened my World Almanac to the country profile for Tanzania, where I would read that it is Kiswahili, but that the primary language used in official government business and higher education is English. (In case you’re wondering, I did the latter.) Keep reading…
Newly Noted Books
With the recent publication of the third edition of Carstensen, Armstrong, and O’Clair’s classic The Nature of Southeast Alaska; A Guide to Plants, Animals, and Habitats by Graphic Arts Books, readers of this freshly updated guide to the natural history of the area will not only have at their fingertips a wealth of new illustrations and maps […]
It wasn’t three days since I’d listened to the brilliant Palaeocast episode about Isotelus rex that a copy of Riccardo Levi-Setti’s The Trilobite Book; A Visual Journey from The University of Chicago Press serendipitously showed up on my desk.
Of all the places I’ve yet to explore in my life, one near the top of my most desired list is the Mono Lake Basin of California’s eastern Sierra. So when I received news that Marie Read, one of the most accomplished photographers of this area, has a new book from Graphic Arts Books titled Sierra Wings; Birds of the Mono Lake Basin, needless to say, I was very interested indeed.
Back in July of 2014, The University of Chicago Press published Mark W. Person’s new English translation of Alexander von Humboldt’s famous collection of essays titled Ansichten der Natur (Views of Nature). This work, one of von Humboldt’s most influential – as well as reportedly his own personal favorite – has not seen a new English translation, […]
Just prior to Christmas a number of books arrived on my desk; most of which I had been expecting but one was a complete surprise – an advance reading copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt of Scott Sampson’s forthcoming “How to Raise a Wild Child; The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature.”
Of all the books I’ve heard about as forthcoming in 2015, one of the most intriguing thus far has been John Wright’s “The Naming of the Shrew: A Curious History of Latin Names.”
The Well-equipped Naturalist
I carry a bag when I’m in the field. I carry a bag when I’m running errands around town. I carry a bag more or less whenever I leave the house for anything more than to walk the dog or take my evening stroll. Ideally, so that I need not worry about being without some item of my essential kit as a result of switching between different bags for different activities, I very much prefer the bag I carry for all these diverse purposes to be the same bag.
Most every hunter or angler I ever met had every bit as deep an interest in one area of natural history of another as any other naturalist of my acquaintance. Indeed, were it not for such famous hunters and anglers of years past, we would not have some of the important collections in natural history museums that we do today.
While each episode of Palaeocast is a delightful sojourn in itself into the world of paleontology, I was particularly happy to discover that Episode 18: Trilobites devotes the better part of an hour to an interview with none other than Professor Richard Fortey of the Natural History Museum.