Join us from February 3 – 8 as we celebrate UnShark Week

What is UnShark Week, you ask?

A birthday held six months away from the real one, is an UnBirthday. So, for the thousands of ocean species that are just as interesting and sometimes more extreme than sharks, we propose the week of Feb 3-8, 2014 as UnSharkWeek.

UnSharkWeek will introduce fans of Shark Week to other extreme forms of life in the sea. There are all sorts of really cool things happening in the harshest environments on Earth, so join Steve Palumbi, one of the world’s leading marine biologists, as he celebrates some of the deepest, fastest, oldest, and just plain strangest creatures found in the ocean.

Follow along here: http://unsharkweek.tumblr.com/

For more information about The Extreme Life of the Sea by Steve and Anthony Palumbi or to read an excerpt from the book, please visit this web site: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10178.html

Jonathan Losos, editor-in-chief of the monumental new reference THE PRINCETON GUIDE TO EVOLUTION, on “What Darwin Got Wrong” in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Just in time for the publication of our comprehensive and authoritative new reference book THE PRINCETON GUIDE TO EVOLUTION, editor-in-chief Jonathan Losos published a terrific feature article in this week’s issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “What Darwin Got Wrong.”

From the article:
“I doubt it ever occurred to Darwin to observe evolution directly, even though he was a pioneering experiment in many other areas.  He was remarkably prescient in his views on topics like evolution by natural selection, the basics of how coral atolls form, and the role of earthworms in soil aeration, but in this particular cares–the speed of evolution–he was dead wrong.  And for more than a century, scientists followed his lead thinking that evolution occurs at a glacial pace, too slow to observe or to affect every day life.

But we now know that when natural selection is strong, evolutionary change can occur very rapidly.  Fast enough to observe in a few years–even within the duration of a typical research grant….”

The Extreme Life of the Sea by Stephen & Anthony Palumbi (#ExtremeLifeOTC)

This book officially publishes in March 2014 and will be available in three formats: Print, standard eBook, and enhanced eBook (featuring a dozen exclusive videos that are beautifully produced and informative).

For more about the book, please visit our web site: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10178.html

“The oceans are our most precious treasure, full of creatures and stories more fantastic than any science fiction. The Extreme Life of the Sea is a fascinating exploration of this vast mysterious universe. Wonderfully written, it will grab you from page one and carry you all the way through. A must-read for everyone.”–Philippe Cousteau

“This book brims with fascinating tales of life in the sea, told with freshness, wit, and verve. Simply wonderful.”–Callum Roberts, author of The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea

Maine Birding Field Notes-Update!

How To Be A Better BirderDerek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder and blogger for Maine Birding Field Notes, knows that as migration season continues, his feathered friends will be continuing south for the winter as the cold creeps up on all of us. While he’s always avidly posting on his Facebook page, he also recently posted to his blog to report some of his more recent findings, including a snowy owl!


Cape Neddick through Wells – Snowy Owl!

Jeannette and I birded from Cape Neddick through Wells on Tuesday, seeing a really pleasant variety of birds in the process in the calm before the storm. Delayed by a snowy start and somewhat slick roads (OK, not slick if didn’t drive like it was a dry race car track – 7 cars were off the road between Freeport and York, however) that backed up traffic (“Hey, there’s a car in the ditch, let me look!”), we didn’t reach the Nubble neighborhood until almost 9:00, but by then the snow had ended, the ceiling lifted a bit, and a very light wind made for decent  – albeit a bit raw – birding conditions.  Although we didn’t have anything earth-shattering, we did have a fair number of “good birds.”

Without a day off together in December (the store is open seven days a week from Thanksgiving to Christmas), our annual late November run through our usual route is the last time we focus on thickets and migrant traps in the hopes for lingering migrants and rare passerines.  Next time, waterbirds will be more of a focus.  And the limited number of non-resident passerines that we detected today (other than Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows, and a scattered few Yellow-rumped Warblers) confirms that – as did the impressive, and growing, quantity of waterbirds.

Three Carolina Wrens was the highlight of a thorough check of the Nubble neighborhood thickets, although we did have a group of about 40 Snow Buntings fly over.  45 Black Scoters, 13 Purple Sandpipers, 8 Great Cormorants, 6 Harlequin Ducks, etc at The Nubble were a sign of things to come along the shoreline.

Passerines were few and far between along Marginal Way and the adjacent neighborhood, but great numbers of waterfowl along the shoreline more than made up for it.  As with everywhere we looked at the ocean today, all three scoters were present in numbers, including a close and talkative group of about 100 Black Scoters.  Lots of Long-tailed Ducks, Common Eiders, and a total of 20 or 21 Harlequin Ducks were also present, along with a half-dozen Purple Sandpipers.

To read the rest of this post, click here!


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format including photos and real text from the guide
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos


Interview with Enrico Coen, Author of “Cells to Civilizations”

Enrico Coen, author of Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life, was recently shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. In the following YouTube video, Coen is interviewed about his book, which is the first unified account of how life transforms itself–from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations.


Enrico Coen is a plant molecular geneticist based at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, United Kingdom. He is the author of The Art of Genes, a fellow of the Royal Society, and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His awards include the Linnean Gold Medal and the Royal Society Darwin Medal.


Check out our Cells to Civilizations Facebook Page for all of the latest news on this book.

William Bialek Wins the 2013 Swartz Prize

William Bialek, Winner of the 2013 Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has awarded the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience to William Bialek, PhD, of Princeton University. The $25,000 prize, supported by The Swartz Foundation, recognizes an individual who has produced a significant cumulative contribution to theoretical models or computational methods in neuroscience. The award was presented during Neuroscience 2013, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

To read the full press release about the award, click here.

BiophysicsWilliam Bialek is the John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor in Physics at Princeton University, where he is also a member of the multidisciplinary Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, and is Visiting Presidential Professor of Physics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the coauthor of Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code and the author of Biophysics: Searching for Principles.

Featuring numerous problems and exercises throughout, Biophysics emphasizes the unifying power of abstract physical principles to motivate new and novel experiments on biological systems.

  • Covers a range of biological phenomena from the physicist’s perspective
  • Features 200 problems
  • Draws on statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and related mathematical concepts
  • Includes an annotated bibliography and detailed appendixes
  • Forthcoming Instructor’s manual (available only to professors)

Migration Quiz Monday: The Swamp Question

After a short hiatus, we’re back with Migration Quiz Monday! Hope you don’t get too stumped by this birdcall, along with a couple distinguishing features. Have a guess? Comment below and check back later this week for the answer!


Audio Quiz: Swamp Question

carwre quiz fin

Click Here To Listen

This species is a very vocal singer, has many variations, and is often confused with other species, especially from the distance. This one Section song could be Common Yellowthroat, Kentucky Warbler or even Carolina Wren. Which is it?

COMYEL_042608#2KENWAR100422_35CARWRE_022009#10

(click to enlarge)


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

Bird Behavior Round-Up

In case you’ve been feeling a bit peckish for some great bird books to read (after devouring The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide, and How to Be a Better Birder), we’ve put together another round-up of bird books just for you. While the other round-up focused on raptors (which can be found here), this one will be focusing on bird behavior and history. Enjoy!


Birdscapes
Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience

By: Jeremy Mynott

Birdscapes is a unique meditation on the variety of human responses to birds, from antiquity to today, and from casual observers to the globe-trotting “twitchers” who sometimes risk life, limb, and marriages simply to add new species to their “life lists.” Conversational, playful, and witty, Birdscapes gently leads us to reflect on large questions about our relation to birds and the natural world. It encourages birders to see their pursuits in a broader human context–and it shows nonbirders what they may be missing.

Life of Birds
The Life of Birds

By: David Attenborough

The Life of Birds is David Attenborough at his characteristic best: presenting the drama, beauty, and eccentricities of the natural world with unusual flair and intelligence. The renowned writer and filmmaker treks through rain forests and deserts, through city streets and isolated wilderness, to bring us an illuminating panorama of every aspect of birds’ lives–from their songs to their search for food, from their eggs and nests to their mastery of the air. Beautifully illustrated with more than a hundred color photographs, the book will delight and inform both bird lovers and any general reader with an interest in nature.

A Passion for Birds
A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon

By: Mark V. Barrow Jr.

In exploring how ornithologists struggled to forge a discipline and profession amidst an explosion of popular interest in natural history, A Passion for Birds provides the first book-length history of American ornithology from the death of John James Audubon to the Second World War. Recounting a colorful story based on the interactions among a wide variety of bird-lovers, this book will interest historians of science, environmental historians, ornithologists, birdwatchers, and anyone curious about the historical roots of today’s birding boom.

Physiological Adaptations for Breeding
Physiological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds

By:Tony D. Williams

Physiological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds is the most current and comprehensive account of research on avian reproduction. It develops two unique themes: the consideration of female avian reproductive physiology and ecology, and an emphasis on individual variation in life-history traits. Tony Williams investigates the physiological, metabolic, energetic, and hormonal mechanisms that underpin individual variation in the key female-specific reproductive traits and the trade-offs between these traits that determine variation in fitness.

All About Birds
All about Birds: A Short Illustrated History of Ornithology

By: Valérie Chansigaud

Colorful, musical, graceful, easily observed–birds have always fascinated amateur and professional naturalists alike. This richly illustrated book tells the fascinating story of ornithology from ancient times to the present. Filled throughout with paintings, drawings, photographs, and diagrams, many of them in brilliant color, All about Birds is a fast-paced chronological account of the personalities and milestones that have shaped this most popular of sciences. These key figures and events are also documented in a unique twenty-page illustrated color timeline at the end of the book.

The Atlas of Birds
The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation

By: Mike Unwin

The Atlas of Birds captures the breathtaking diversity of birds, and illuminates their conservation status around the world. Full-color maps show where birds are found, both by country and terrain, and reveal how an astounding variety of behavioral adaptations–from flight and feeding to nest building and song–have enabled them to thrive in virtually every habitat on Earth. Maps of individual journeys and global flyways chart the amazing phenomenon of bird migration, while bird classification is explained using maps for each order and many key families.

Avian Architecture
Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build

By: Peter Goodfellow

Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. Avian Architecture describes how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, deconstructing all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use. This spectacularly illustrated book features 300 full-color images and more than 35 case studies that profile key species worldwide.


Don’t forget to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering. Click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.


Enrico Coen Shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

Enrico Coen – Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life
Shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

The Royal Society Winton Prize celebrates outstanding popular science books from around the world. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony at the Royal Society in London on November 25th.
For more information about this award and event, click here.

Cells to Civilizations Cells to Civilizations is the first unified account of how life transforms itself–from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations. What are the connections between evolving microbes, an egg that develops into an infant, and a child who learns to walk and talk? Enrico Coen synthesizes the growth of living systems and creative processes, and he reveals that the four great life transformations–evolution, development, learning, and human culture–while typically understood separately, actually all revolve around shared core principles and manifest the same fundamental recipe. Coen blends provocative discussion, the latest scientific research, and colorful examples to demonstrate the links between these critical stages in the history of life.

Coen tells a story rich with genes, embryos, neurons, and fascinating discoveries. He examines the development of the zebra, the adaptations of seaweed, the cave paintings of Lascaux, and the formulations of Alan Turing. He explores how dogs make predictions, how weeds tell the time of day, and how our brains distinguish a Modigliani from a Rembrandt. Locating commonalities in important findings, Coen gives readers a deeper understanding of key transformations and provides a bold portrait for how science both frames and is framed by human culture.

A compelling investigation into the relationships between our biological past and cultural progress, Cells to Civilizations presents a remarkable story of living change.

Enrico Coen is a plant molecular geneticist based at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, United Kingdom. He is the author of The Art of Genes, a fellow of the Royal Society, and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His awards include the Linnean Gold Medal and the Royal Society Darwin Medal.

Uniting For A Feathered Cause

While Derek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder, spends a lot of his time birding and enjoying the great outdoors, he is also very passionate about protecting our feathered friends, which is why in a recent blog post, Lovitch addresses a serious issue he has noticed in Portland, Oregon that could seriously affect the bird population there:


Today I wanted to take a moment to discuss one of the local issues that we have decided to wade into.  As most Portland – at least – residents may know, there is a proposal to transfer a portion of Congress Square Park to private development for a conference center.  The city needs a conference center, and the park needs some attention.  I’ll leave it to the residents of Portland to weigh the costs and benefits of this particular plan, but one aspect that concerns me greatly is the current blueprints that show a massive glass wall facing a smaller park with limited vegetation.

Here’s a link to what I believe to be the most recent development proposal; I don’t think any significant updates have been made.  Jeannette and I believe that we can use our store as a vehicle to promote bird conservation, and although we certainly don’t stick our nose into every project, sometimes we feel that we need to be the voice for birds, birding, and bird conservation.  Capisic Pond Park, the Eastern Promenade, Sandy Point, and now development at the fringes of Florida Lake have been projects we have worked on.  While we may not go too much further with our efforts in this case, we thought it was best to offer expertise to point out a potential issue with this projects design.  I have sent this letter to city officials and the new group, Friends of Congress Square Park.  I post it here for your information, and if anyone has suggestions on whom else to send this to, don’t hesitate to let us know.

September 18, 2013

RE: Congress Square Redevelopment plans

To whom it may concern:

I am writing you today not to take a stand for or against the current proposal at this time, but instead to bring to your attention a couple of aspects of urban parks, construction, and wildlife interactions that has raised a significant amount of concern with me.

First, a little bit of background.  Migrating birds that stream over Portland every spring and fall face a myriad of risks.  Many of our favorite songbirds, such as warblers, orioles, and tanagers all fly at night.  For reasons unknown – likely due to the use of stars for navigation – birds can become disoriented by lights.  Lights on communication towers, lights on buildings, lights at stadiums, lights left on in office buildings, and even lights in people’s homes.  Especially on cloudy and foggy nights, birds will be drawn to this artificial lighting, and many will meet an untimely death as they collide with structures or even drop dead from exhaustion as their bodies metabolize their muscles in order to fuel the last gasps of flight as the bird circles, and circles, and circles, confused by the light, drawn in by its grasp.  The cumulative light pollution of cities, towns, and even single-family homes, results in perhaps hundreds of millions of deaths of migrating birds each year.

However, not every bird disoriented by city lights will die.  Some find refuge in a well-landscaped park and find enough food to survive, refuel, and eventually move on. Most others find just enough refuge to move on come sunrise, when the direction of the sunrise and visual landmarks can usher a bird in the right direction.  In order to avoid predators, many of these birds will fly low through the city streets, dropping in to the next tree, the next park, or even the next garden as these birds – in what is termed “redetermined migration” attempt to correct for the errors of their ways overnight.  These errors could result from disorientation from lights, “groundings” from severe weather, or even from drifting too far on strong winds behind a cold front.

Especially for those birds exhausted from their travels or their disorientation, every single tree in an urban environment can be a life-saver.  A place to rest, a place to forage for just a little food or at the very least a place to avoid predators.  Working from some part of the city, the birds will work their way inland (in the case of a coastal city such as Portland) looking for more extensive habitat where they can refuel.

I have watched flocks of White-throated Sparrows winging it down side streets, landing in potted plants at the first sight of a possible threat.  I’ve seen an American Woodcock walking down a sidewalk near Monument Square.  I have seen waves of Blackpoll Warblers streaking by just over the treetops of Deering Oaks Park.

As the birds work their way to quality habitat, such as Evergreen Cemetery, many of these birds are more than strong enough to avoid predators, avoid traffic, and fly at full speed over the course of the first couple of hours of daylight.

Thud.

The migrant lays still on the sidewalk; dead.    It has hit a window.

It has flown hundreds of miles from the forests of Canada.  It has survived ever-changing weather, dodged hawks at every turn, and found enough food to pack on enough fat to fuel an epic journey to the rainforests of South America for the winter.   A shift in the wind the prior night resulted in foggy conditions as it arrived in the airspace over Portland.  Attempting to orient itself, it circles the red blinking light on the top of a building until it is too tired.  But this bird is lucky.  Below this building there is a small park with a handful of trees.  Good enough, and the bird alights.  The sun rises, and the bird, not finding much food in a few ornamental plantings, decides to head further inland.

Flying from tree to tree, the bird sees the next tree just ahead.  But that tree was only a reflection in glass.  Its journey ends.

Glass kills as many as 1 billion birds per year in North America. Urban light pollution may kill as many as 31 million birds per year.  Lighted communication towers may kill upwards of 100 million.  Only free-roaming cats are estimated to kill more birds per year than any of these other anthropogenic causes.  You can see why glass in lighted urban areas is such a problem.

The current proposal for a new Event Center in what is now Congress Square Park includes a massive glass façade, with “doors” that open, putting glass walls out at multiple angles.  All of this glass will be reflective.  Architects and admirers like that about glass.  But whatever trees remain will be reflected by that glass.

Thud.  Another migrant is dead.  How many dead birds will people pick up on the sidewalk before anyone takes notice?  Or will the rats clean up the mess before the morning rush?

Is the new CongressSquareEventCenter going to be a death trap for exhausted and confused migrants?  Probably.  Can this risk be minimized or avoided?  Yes.  Does anyone care?  That, to me, is always the toughest question.

But there are solutions out there.  There are treatments that make glass less-reflective, or ways to break up the reflection so birds will not be drawn to it.  Glass can be positioned to reflect the ground, and trees can be positioned to minimize reflection.  There are certainly plenty of materials that don’t cast a reflection as well.  There are even city-wide efforts to reduce bird collisions that range from lighting standards to simple programs to get people to turn off the lights as they leave their office for the night.

My only goal with this letter is to raise awareness about a significant problem, but one that might well be avoided.

For the sake of brevity – I think you will agree that this letter is long enough already – I will simply point you towards two sources for more information, from background to solutions.  The first is the “Birds and Collisions” page from the American Bird Conservancy: http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/glass.html

The second is the home page of the Fatal Light Awareness Program: http://www.flap.org/

I sincerely hope that you will recognize my concerns and take them under consideration.  I would be happy to offer more first-hand observations to describe why this issue is real in Portland, and why a glass façade facing some of the few trees that exist in the center of an urban area could result in significant avian mortality.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Derek Lovitch
Freeport Wild Bird Supply

To see this post in its entirety, click here.

James & Carol Gould Longlisted for a 2013 Society of Biology Book Award

James L. Gould & Carol Grant Gould – Nature’s Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation
Longlisted for the 2013 Society of Biology Book Awards in General Biology

The Society of Biology runs three awards for biology, biosciences and life sciences books. The awards celebrate outstanding textbooks aimed at undergraduates and postgraduates and general biology books.

To see what other books made the list, click here.

Nature's CompassWe know that animals cross miles of water, land, and sky with pinpoint precision on a daily basis. But it is only in recent years that scientists have learned how these astounding feats of navigation are actually accomplished. With colorful and thorough detail, Nature’s Compass explores the remarkable methods by which animals find their way both near home and around the globe. Noted biologist James Gould and popular science writer Carol Gould delve into the elegant strategies and fail-safe backup systems, the invisible sensitivities and mysterious forces, and incredible mental abilities used by familiar and rare species, as they investigate a multitude of navigation strategies, from the simple to the astonishing.

Providing a comprehensive picture of animal navigation and migration, Nature’s Compass decodes the mysteries of this extraordinary aspect of natural behavior.

James L. Gould is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University.
Carol Grant Gould is a science writer who has published widely.
Together, the Goulds have written nine earlier books, including The Animal Mind and Animal Architects.

2013 Migration Giveaway: Last Chance To Enter!

Stephenson_WarblerGSince today is the LAST day you can enter, don’t forget to check out our Rafflecopter giveaway event! In honor of the 2013 bird migration, we’re celebrating all through fall with some of our best books on birding, some of our best experts on identifying them, and with a giveaway with a chance to win some free stuff!

The Crossley ID GuideOur prize package includes a copy of three our our best books about birding: The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide.

How To Be A Better Birder

How to enter? There are numerous ways to enter, including liking any of the three books Facebook pages, emailing us at blog@press.princeton.edu, signing up for our email alerts for Bird and Natural History Titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/,or tweeting at @PrincetonNature or at any of the author’s Twitter pages (@IDCrossleyGuide or @The WarblerGuide). Just follow the steps in the Rafflecopter box below.

The winner will be selected TOMORROW!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember, the giveaway ends TONIGHT at midnight, so enter now!

And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.