Bird Fact Friday – Mashers and Gulpers

From page 163 in The New Neotropical Companion:

This Toco Toucan is plucking a fruit that it will then gulp down whole. Photo by John Kricher.

In dense interior rain forests where wind is attenuated, birds are essential for seed dispersal. There are two basic methods by which birds devour fruit. Some birds (mashers) mash up the fruit, dropping the seeds as they do, while others (gulpers) gulp the fruit whole, subsequently either regurgitating or defecating seeds. Mashers are mostly finches and tanagers, and gulpers are toucans, trogons, and manakins. Mashers appear more sensitive to taste than gulpers, showing a distinct preference for fruits rich in sugars. Gulpers swallow fruit whole and appear taste insensitive.

This Grayish Saltator is an obvious example of a masher. Photo by John Kricher.

The New Neotropical Companion
John Kricher
Chapter One

The New Neotropical Companion is the completely revised and expanded edition of a book that has helped thousands of people to understand the complex ecology and natural history of the most species-rich area on Earth, the American tropics. Featuring stunning color photos throughout, it is a sweeping and cutting-edge account of tropical ecology that includes not only tropical rain forests but also other ecosystems such as cloud forests, rivers, savannas, and mountains. This is the only guide to the American tropics that is all-inclusive, encompassing the entire region’s ecology and the amazing relationships among species rather than focusing just on species identification.

The New Neotropical Companion is a book unlike any other. Here, you will learn how to recognize distinctive ecological patterns of rain forests and other habitats and to interpret how these remarkable ecosystems function—everything is explained in clear and engaging prose free of jargon. You will also be introduced to the region’s astonishing plant and animal life.

Tuesday’s Trot – Shetland Pony

From page 34 in Horses of the World:

5 things to know about the Shetland Pony:

1. The Shetland Pony is one of the smallest breeds in the world, with such a particular look that it can’t be confused with any other breed. The winter coat is very thick and very long, giving it the look of a big stuffed animal.

2. Its origins are largely unknown, but it is extremely ancient, probably the direct descendant of primitive Celtic ponies.

3. Due to its isolation, it has not undergone crossbreeding. Its small size is the result of natural selection in a difficult environment, and of good adaptation to the cold and vegetation that offers little nutrition.

4. It has excellent endurance and is powerful for its size, capable of pulling and transporting heavy loads.

5. Of exceptional rusticity, this hardy pony has a tendency to get fat quickly, which is dangerous for its health.

Horses of the World
Élise Rousseau
Illustrated by Yann Le Bris
Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan
Sample Entry

Horses of the World is a comprehensive, large-format overview of 570 breeds of domestic and extant wild horses, including hybrids between the two and between domestic breeds and other equids, such as zebras. This beautifully illustrated and detailed guide covers the origins of modern horses, anatomy and physiology, variation in breeds, and modern equestrian practices. The treatment of breeds is organized by country within broader geographical regions—from Eurasia through Australasia and to the Americas. Each account provides measurements (weight and height), distribution, origins and history, character and attributes, uses, and current status. Every breed is accompanied by superb color drawings—600 in total—and color photographs can be found throughout the book.

Describing and depicting every horse breed in existence, Horses of the World will be treasured by all who are interested in these gorgeous animals.

Bird Fact Friday – The dancing manakins

From page 166 in The New Neotropical Companion:

Photo by Jill Lapato.

The White-bearded Manakin’s name comes from its throat feathers, which are puffed outward during courtship, forming a kind of beard. Thirty or more males may occupy a lek, a single small area in the forest understory. Each male makes his own “court” by clearing an oval-shaped area of forest floor about 1 m (39 in) across. Each court must contain two or more thin vertical saplings, as these are crucial in the manakin’s courtship dance. The male begins courtship by repeatedly jumping back and forth between the two saplings, making a loud snap with each jump. In addition to the snap, the male’s short wing feathers make an insect-like buzzing when he flies, and thus active manakin leks can become a buzzing, snapping frenzy when a female visits. The intensity of the male’s jumping between saplings increases until he suddenly jumps from sapling to ground, and then appears to ricochet back to another sapling, from which he slides vertically downward, like a fireman on a pole.

 

The New Neotropical Companion
John Kricher
Chapter One

The New Neotropical Companion is the completely revised and expanded edition of a book that has helped thousands of people to understand the complex ecology and natural history of the most species-rich area on Earth, the American tropics. Featuring stunning color photos throughout, it is a sweeping and cutting-edge account of tropical ecology that includes not only tropical rain forests but also other ecosystems such as cloud forests, rivers, savannas, and mountains. This is the only guide to the American tropics that is all-inclusive, encompassing the entire region’s ecology and the amazing relationships among species rather than focusing just on species identification.

The New Neotropical Companion is a book unlike any other. Here, you will learn how to recognize distinctive ecological patterns of rain forests and other habitats and to interpret how these remarkable ecosystems function—everything is explained in clear and engaging prose free of jargon. You will also be introduced to the region’s astonishing plant and animal life.

Tuesday’s Trot – Misaki

From page 374 in Horses of the World:

5 things you should know about the Misaki:

1. The Misaki is recognized as a national natural treasure in Japan.

2. The Misaki is resilient and adapted to life in the open throughout the year in its natural environment.

3. This small horse left in the wild has become an extraordinary tourist attraction. Japanese tourists enthusiastically come all year long to take its picture, and, being used to the presence of people, it tolerates the admiring crowds.

4. In 2011 the breed suffered from equine infectious anemia and fell from 115 individuals in 2008 to 82 in 2012, but it climbed back to 91 in 2013.

5. The horses are encountering a few problems of overgrazing in the grassy zones and are tending to go into the forests to find food.

Horses of the World
Élise Rousseau
Illustrated by Yann Le Bris
Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan
Sample Entry

Horses of the World is a comprehensive, large-format overview of 570 breeds of domestic and extant wild horses, including hybrids between the two and between domestic breeds and other equids, such as zebras. This beautifully illustrated and detailed guide covers the origins of modern horses, anatomy and physiology, variation in breeds, and modern equestrian practices. The treatment of breeds is organized by country within broader geographical regions—from Eurasia through Australasia and to the Americas. Each account provides measurements (weight and height), distribution, origins and history, character and attributes, uses, and current status. Every breed is accompanied by superb color drawings—600 in total—and color photographs can be found throughout the book.

Describing and depicting every horse breed in existence, Horses of the World will be treasured by all who are interested in these gorgeous animals.

Bird Fact Friday – Why does the Toucan have such a large, colorful bill?

From page 273 in The New Neotropical Companion:

Photo by James Adams

Perhaps more than any other kind of bird, toucans symbolize the American tropics. With a prominent boat-shaped, colorful bill almost equal in length to the body, the toucan silhouette is instantly recognizable. Toucans’ seemingly oversize bills are actually lightweight. Colorful patterns adorn most ramphastid bills; they may possibly be used for signaling in mate selection. Recent studies on the Toco Toucan have demonstrated that the birds are able to radiate excess heat from their long, vascularized bills. In a paper by Glenn Tattersall and colleagues, the researchers conclude that the toucan bill is “relative to its size, one of the largest thermal windows in the animal kingdom, rivaling elephants’ ears in its ability to radiate body heat.”

Toko Toucan. Photo by John Kricher

The New Neotropical Companion
John Kricher
Chapter One

The New Neotropical Companion is the completely revised and expanded edition of a book that has helped thousands of people to understand the complex ecology and natural history of the most species-rich area on Earth, the American tropics. Featuring stunning color photos throughout, it is a sweeping and cutting-edge account of tropical ecology that includes not only tropical rain forests but also other ecosystems such as cloud forests, rivers, savannas, and mountains. This is the only guide to the American tropics that is all-inclusive, encompassing the entire region’s ecology and the amazing relationships among species rather than focusing just on species identification.

The New Neotropical Companion is a book unlike any other. Here, you will learn how to recognize distinctive ecological patterns of rain forests and other habitats and to interpret how these remarkable ecosystems function—everything is explained in clear and engaging prose free of jargon. You will also be introduced to the region’s astonishing plant and animal life.

Tuesday’s Trot – Erlunchun

From page 346 in Horses of the World:

5 things to know about the Erlunchun—a horse capable of fighting wolves:

1. The Erlunchun is compact and strong; it has sloping, muscular shoulders; short, robust legs with close-set hocks; and wide, hard hooves. The winter coat and the mane and tail are very thick and long.

2. The Erlunchun is sensitive, has endurance, and is a good pack horse, very easygoing and capable of working hard, of adapting to life in the snow and to fighting predators (wolves, among others) thanks to a strong survival instinct.

3. The Erlunchun is very resistant to cold; living in North and Northeast China, it can withstand temperatures as low as −50°C and also drought.

4. The Erlunchun is primarily a saddle horse, and is known to be an excellent hunting horse, for which it was traditionally used.

5. The Erlunchun is endangered and urgently needs to be protected. The decline in its numbers is related to the lifestyle changes of the Oroqen people.

Horses of the World
Élise Rousseau
Illustrated by Yann Le Bris
Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan
Sample Entry

Horses of the World is a comprehensive, large-format overview of 570 breeds of domestic and extant wild horses, including hybrids between the two and between domestic breeds and other equids, such as zebras. This beautifully illustrated and detailed guide covers the origins of modern horses, anatomy and physiology, variation in breeds, and modern equestrian practices. The treatment of breeds is organized by country within broader geographical regions—from Eurasia through Australasia and to the Americas. Each account provides measurements (weight and height), distribution, origins and history, character and attributes, uses, and current status. Every breed is accompanied by superb color drawings—600 in total—and color photographs can be found throughout the book.

Describing and depicting every horse breed in existence, Horses of the World will be treasured by all who are interested in these gorgeous animals.

Bird Fact Friday – Nectar and fruit-eating specialists

Photo by James Adams

From page 144 in The New Neotropical Companion

There is year-round availability of nectar and fruit in the tropics. Nectar specialists include all the multiple hummingbird species as well as various flowerpiercers and some others. Fruit-eating specialists include cotingas, many tanagers, guans, curassows, and parrots. Add to those iguanas and other reptiles, scores of monkeys, and rodents such as agoutis and pacas, and you have a lot of fruit consumers. None of these groups can exist successfully outside of the tropics, since they are so dependent on constant availability of nectar and/or fruit. In the photo above, this Lovely Cotinga (Cotinga amabilis) approaches a fruiting tree. A species such as this, with its dependency on fruit, could not exist in the temperate zone.

The New Neotropical Companion
John Kricher
Chapter One

The New Neotropical Companion is the completely revised and expanded edition of a book that has helped thousands of people to understand the complex ecology and natural history of the most species-rich area on Earth, the American tropics. Featuring stunning color photos throughout, it is a sweeping and cutting-edge account of tropical ecology that includes not only tropical rain forests but also other ecosystems such as cloud forests, rivers, savannas, and mountains. This is the only guide to the American tropics that is all-inclusive, encompassing the entire region’s ecology and the amazing relationships among species rather than focusing just on species identification.

The New Neotropical Companion is a book unlike any other. Here, you will learn how to recognize distinctive ecological patterns of rain forests and other habitats and to interpret how these remarkable ecosystems function—everything is explained in clear and engaging prose free of jargon. You will also be introduced to the region’s astonishing plant and animal life.

A peek inside Horses of the World

Horses of the World by Élise Rousseau and illustrated by Yann Le Bris is a beautiful and comprehensive guide to the world’s horses. With its unique large-format, complete coverage of 570 horse breeds, 600 superb color illustrations, and accessible text that offers detailed information on each breed, Horses of the World is surely to be treasured by all who are interested in these gorgeous animals. Take a look inside this beautifully illustrated and detailed guide that depicts every horse breed in existence.

Horses of the World by Élise Rousseau, Illustrations Yann Le Bris, Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan from Princeton University Press on Vimeo.

Élise Rousseau is a freelance writer and author of a number of adult and children’s books on horses. She is an avid equestrian and has traveled all over the world to document rare breeds. Yann Le Bris has been a professional artist for eighteen years and has illustrated numerous books.

Tuesday’s Trot – Pottok

From page 138 in Horses of the World:

5 things you should know about the Pottok, one of the symbols of the Basque Country:

1. The Pottok has a unique head with a hollow at the level of the eyes and a bump at the bottom of the face.

2. Today Pottoks are divided into the slightly smaller “mountain” Pottoks (which live outdoors nine months of the year) and the “prairie” Pottok, raised from birth or from weaning around people; the latter is a bit bigger because it is well fed. There is also an original type, which has not been crossed, and which resembles the original wild type, of which there are only a very few individuals left.

3. Always maintained as a pure breed, over the centuries the Pottok has undergone a few crossings with the Arabian, but it has maintained its unique characteristics.

4. The Pottok almost disappeared in the 1970s, but was recognized in 1972, which enabled the breed to be protected. It originated in the mountains of Ursuya, Baigoura, Artzamendi, and Larrun.

5. This is an excellent, small mountain horse, notably because of its endurance. It has a sociable and attentive nature.

Horses of the World
Élise Rousseau
Illustrated by Yann Le Bris
Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan
Sample Entry

Horses of the World is a comprehensive, large-format overview of 570 breeds of domestic and extant wild horses, including hybrids between the two and between domestic breeds and other equids, such as zebras. This beautifully illustrated and detailed guide covers the origins of modern horses, anatomy and physiology, variation in breeds, and modern equestrian practices. The treatment of breeds is organized by country within broader geographical regions—from Eurasia through Australasia and to the Americas. Each account provides measurements (weight and height), distribution, origins and history, character and attributes, uses, and current status. Every breed is accompanied by superb color drawings—600 in total—and color photographs can be found throughout the book.

Describing and depicting every horse breed in existence, Horses of the World will be treasured by all who are interested in these gorgeous animals.

Bird Fact Friday – Harris’s Hawks hunt cooperatively

Credit William S. Clark

From page 190-191 in Raptors of Mexico and Central America:

The Harris’s Hawk preys mainly on mammals, especially rabbits, and birds, but also lizards and insects. They hunt on the wing and from perches. Cooperative hunting occurs more often in winter. Unlike many buteos, they don’t hover. They perch more horizontally than other raptors and are often seen in groups of up to a dozen individuals, especially in winter. They breed cooperatively, often with polygamy and nest helpers. A large stick nest is built in small to large trees and sometimes on power poles and cell towers.

Raptors of Mexico and Central America
William S. Clark & N. John Schmitt
With a foreword by Lloyd Kiff
Introduction | Sample Plate

Raptors are among the most challenging birds to identify in the field due to their bewildering variability of plumage, flight silhouettes, and behavior. Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the first illustrated guide to the region’s 69 species of raptors, including vagrants. It features 32 stunning color plates and 213 color photos, and a distribution map for each regularly occurring species. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, age-related plumages, status and distribution, subspecies, molt, habitats, behaviors, potential confusion species, and more.

Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the essential field guide to this difficult bird group and the ideal travel companion for anyone visiting this region of the world.

Tuesday’s Trot – Belgian

From page 166 in Horses of the World:

5 things you should know about the Belgian draft horse, the most powerful of all draft horses:

1. The Belgian draft horse is tall, very massive, and very muscular. It can easily surpass a ton in weight.

2. The Belgian draft horse is a very ancient breed, and it is the descendant of strong medieval chargers that carried armored knights, notably the horses of Flanders: Ardennais, Brabançon, and Flemish.

3. In the past the breed contributed to the creation or the improvement of other draft horses, such as the Suffolk Punch and Clydesdale. Its power made it the preferred farm horse before the appearance of tractors. By refusing to cross their breed the Belgians succeeded in preserving its specific qualities.

4. It is probably the most powerful of all draft horses. But it is a docile horse, calm and very cooperative.

5. In Belgium it is considered a national treasure, and its breeding is supported by the state.

Horses of the World
Élise Rousseau
Illustrated by Yann Le Bris
Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan
Sample Entry

Horses of the World is a comprehensive, large-format overview of 570 breeds of domestic and extant wild horses, including hybrids between the two and between domestic breeds and other equids, such as zebras. This beautifully illustrated and detailed guide covers the origins of modern horses, anatomy and physiology, variation in breeds, and modern equestrian practices. The treatment of breeds is organized by country within broader geographical regions—from Eurasia through Australasia and to the Americas. Each account provides measurements (weight and height), distribution, origins and history, character and attributes, uses, and current status. Every breed is accompanied by superb color drawings—600 in total—and color photographs can be found throughout the book.

Describing and depicting every horse breed in existence, Horses of the World will be treasured by all who are interested in these gorgeous animals.

Bird Fact Friday – Which vulture’s head color varies with mood?

Lesser Yellow-headed
Vulture. Adult. Credit William S. Clark

From page 95 in Raptors of Mexico and Central America:

The Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures forage for carrion by gliding low over wet open areas and are able to locate carrion by smell as well as by sight. They also spend lots of time perched on the ground or on a low fence post. Active flight is with slow, deep, deliberate wing beats on flexible wings. They soar and glide with wings in a strong dihedral, often rocking or teetering from side to side, rarely soaring high. Adults’ head color varies with mood; the head is redder when the vulture is excited. Cathartid vultures often bow their wings downward in a flex until the tips almost meet.

Raptors of Mexico and Central America
William S. Clark & N. John Schmitt
With a foreword by Lloyd Kiff
Introduction | Sample Plate

Raptors are among the most challenging birds to identify in the field due to their bewildering variability of plumage, flight silhouettes, and behavior. Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the first illustrated guide to the region’s 69 species of raptors, including vagrants. It features 32 stunning color plates and 213 color photos, and a distribution map for each regularly occurring species. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, age-related plumages, status and distribution, subspecies, molt, habitats, behaviors, potential confusion species, and more.

Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the essential field guide to this difficult bird group and the ideal travel companion for anyone visiting this region of the world.