A few quick book recommendations....not detailed reviews.
ANTARCTIC WILDLIFE: A Visitor’s Guide
As I flipped through the newly released ANTARCTIC WILDLIFE: A Visitor’s Guide (Princeton Univ. Press) by James Lowen, I was immediately impressed by the layout, format, and content. But, I wanted to give the book a good look to make sure my first impression was accurate. I’m glad to say the book is spectacular. It covers all wildlife within Antarctica, not just birds. But for the birders reading this, the section on birds is done well…with beautiful composite photos, and comparisons of similar species. I especially like the petrel, albatross, and dolphin plates, and the silhouetted runners along the bottom of the dolphin and whale pages depicting behavior and structure traits! Even though this guide will not be as popular as a guide to North America due to a more restricted audience…I want to make a statement that may seem grand, but is honest: “anyone authoring a field guide in the future should pick up a copy of this book and use it as a model”. It is simply and nicely laid out, easy to digest, and appealing in every way.
The photography is professional, and the photoshop work is well done. The only criticism I have is that some of the photos “pasted” into certain backgrounds have obvious sharp lines, and could have been slightly blurred on the edges to blend in more naturally. But that does not detract from the book, and I admit that I am more critical than most in regards to Photoshop work.
THE BIRDS OF NEW JERSEY: Status and Distribution
Many Utahns will probably never visit New Jersey, having heard of its reputation as the “arm-pit state”, or if their only visual of New Jersey is a TV clip of Newark Airport, or an episode of The Sopranos” or “The Jersey Shore” (which I have never watched). But, I have ties to New Jersey that I reluctantly admit. I lived and birded in New Jersey for a long time.
After looking through THE BIRDS OF NEW JERSEY: Status and Distribution by William J. Boyle, I was reminded of what a great state New Jersey is for birds. Hey, its not all concrete, airports, and smog...there are lots of great forest, grassland, marsh, and coastal habitat that hold an amazing diversity of bird species. Bill Boyle knows the state as well as anybody, and his other book "A Guide to Bird Finding in New Jersey" has been a popular book in the East for many years. THE BIRDS OF NEW JERSEY covers the status and distribution of the entire list of birds seen in New Jersey (including rarities) with a map for all species and a photo for most. This book is not a field guide, but rather an atlas type guide and the sub-title clearly states that. The book is likely the best of its kind in presenting the birding locales, prevalence, and status of birds for a single state. It is easy to navigate and concise. For any birder living in, near, or visiting New Jersey, this is one book to have!
Most of the photos are by Kevin Karlson, and they are brilliant. The rare bird photos are the actual birds that appeared in New Jersey (many of which I was lucky enough to see), Some of these are not stunning portraits, but I prefer to see the actual rare bird that showed up in New Jersey rather than a portrait from somewhere else…it lets the readers see for themselves the documented sightings. Also, I love that the cover photo is an American Kestrel, sadly though, they are difficult to find breeding there these days. I have many good things to say about this guide….but the only thing I would have liked to see differently is habitat preferences included for all the species (although most are included).