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.

Tuesday’s Trot – Akhal-Teke

From page 302 in Horses of the World:

5 things you should know about the Akhal-Teke, a national emblem of Turkmenistan:

1. The Akhal-Teke is known for its characteristic and particularly striking golden or silver metallic shimmer, a quality rare among other horses.

2. Extremely elegant and sleek, the Akhal-Teke can be recognized at first sight. Its skin is extremely fine. In its country it is often protected by thick blankets which contribute to keeping its hair very short.

3. This breed, among the most ancient, a descendant of the ancient Turkoman horses, was once a fearsome war horse admired for its speed and endurance. The breed has influenced many saddle breeds, notably the Thoroughbred.

4. This exceptional horse probably has the best endurance of any breed in the world. Its uncommon resilience enables it to tolerate the most diverse climates, from extreme heat to extreme cold. This resilience and hardiness, to which is added great longevity, are rare in such a sport and competitive breed.

5. Its nature is delicate and sensitive, and it is best for experienced riders. It is said that it is a one-rider horse.

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 – How do long-winged harriers hunt prey?

From page 145 in Raptors of Mexico and Central America:

The Long-winged Harriers are typical harriers that hunt in low, slow flight just above the ground, pouncing on prey with a quick agile strike. They eat small mammals, small birds, frogs, lizards, and bird’s eggs. Some prey is located by hearing, enhanced by their owl-like facial disk. The Long-winged Harrier’s scientific name is Circus buffoniCircus is from the Greek kirkos, “circle,” from its habit of flying in circles. The species name,  buffoni, is for French naturalist George Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.

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 – Thoroughbred

From page 48 in Horses of the World:

The favored discipline of the Thoroughbred is the flat race (gallop).

5 facts you should know about the famous Thoroughbred, a breed unequaled for speed racing:

1. This breed has been selected for its speed. Since its creation, it has not undergone any crossing and is bred with pure blood.

2. Among the modern breeds, the Thoroughbred has had the greatest impact. Its creation was a turning point in global equestrian history. The breed has been used to improve a great number of other breeds.5 facts you should know about the famous Thoroughbred, a breed unequaled for speed racing

3. Horse racing has also definitively changed, as no horse is as fast as a Thoroughbred in speed races.

4. This is a delicate, nervous, spirited, sometimes unstable horse because it is bred for its athletic performance and not its character. It is energetic, athletic, brave, and very fast. It is a horse that demands time and very attentive care.

5. The breed is one of the most widespread in the world, with millions of horses and more than 118,000 births every year.

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 – Weekly Warbler: Black-throated Blue

From page 192-193 in The Warbler Guide:

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Fall Female, credit Scott Whittle

The female Black-throated Blue Warbler’s blue-green back and buffy undersides create a relatively low-contrast appearance. Its darker cheek creates a faint mask. Though from some angle, the mask can be very prominent. A small white “handkerchief” mark is created by white coloration at the base of the outer primaries. The Black-throated Blue Warbler is an active, understory forager, often seen near eye level. It frequently makes a loud, dry, “kissy” chip call while foraging in the fall. The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a good example of sexual dimorphism: the male and female are very different in color, although their body structure is the same.

 

 

The Warbler Guide
Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle
Drawings by Catherine Hamilton
Warbler Guide App
Species Account Example: American Redstart Male

Warblers are amwarblerong the most challenging birds to identify. They exhibit an array of seasonal plumages and have distinctive yet oft-confused calls and songs. The Warbler Guide enables you to quickly identify any of the 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada. This groundbreaking guide features more than 1,000 stunning color photos, extensive species accounts with multiple viewing angles, and an entirely new system of vocalization analysis that helps you distinguish songs and calls.

The Warbler Guide revolutionizes birdwatching, making warbler identification easier than ever before. For more information, please see the author videos on the Princeton University Press website.

Tuesday’s Trot – Przewalski’s Horse

From page 27 in Horses of the World:

A herd drinking at a water hole and rolling in the mud. Foals are slightly lighter.

5 things you should know about Przewalski’s Horse—the only surviving species of wild horse:

1. Przewalski’s Horse is an entirely wild species discovered in 1879 by a Russian, Colonel Przewalski. It has never been domesticated.

2. It has 66 chromosomes, whereas the domestic horse has only 64—which does not prevent them from being crossed and having fertile off spring.

3. It became extinct in the wild in 1969, but its presence in many zoos has enabled it to be put into programs of conservation and reintroduction.

4. This wild horse is fast, very resilient, and able to endure very extreme climate conditions. Like the zebra, it cannot be trained.

5. Free-range herds exist in Mongolia and in China. Programs of reintroduction and herds in semi-freedom exist in France, Spain, Belgium, and China.

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 – Weekly Warbler: Blackpoll

From page 182-183 in The Warbler Guide:

The Blackpoll Warblers (fall birds) have yellowish throat and breast in contrast with the white lower belly. They have bold white wing bars, and distinct eyeline with broken eyering. The Blackpoll Warblers have contrasting tertial edging, and flight feathers white-edged on tips. Their streaking in sides and back is always present even when faint. Their long wings indicate a long-distance migrant: up to 7,000 miles each way—more than any other warbler.

The Warbler Guide
Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle
Drawings by Catherine Hamilton
Warbler Guide App
Species Account Example: American Redstart Male

Warblers are amwarblerong the most challenging birds to identify. They exhibit an array of seasonal plumages and have distinctive yet oft-confused calls and songs. The Warbler Guide enables you to quickly identify any of the 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada. This groundbreaking guide features more than 1,000 stunning color photos, extensive species accounts with multiple viewing angles, and an entirely new system of vocalization analysis that helps you distinguish songs and calls.

The Warbler Guide revolutionizes birdwatching, making warbler identification easier than ever before. For more information, please see the author videos on the Princeton University Press website.