#UnSharkWeek The fastest fish in the sea is not a shark

Sailfish have the unofficial record at 60 mph, and well documented speed trails have clocked tuna and wahoo at nearly 50 mph. By contrast the most celebrated human swimmers manage 6-7 mph. Billfish like marlin and sailfish feed at such high speeds that their brains and eyes can not operate fast enough. So as an adaptation to speed, these fish have evolved heaters in the brains and eyes so they can form and process images fast enough to snap up prey in high velocity sorties.

Read the rest of the story here.

UnSharkWeek kicks off

Steve and Tony Palumbi, co-authors of The Extreme Life of the Sea, kick off UnSharkWeek with this terrific op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

“Americans are obsessed with sharks,” write the Palumbis. “But why are we so fixated on sharks, when the oceans contain so many other fascinating, wild and intense species? Perhaps what we need is an Un-Shark Week to introduce Americans to some of the sea’s truly extreme animals, and help them over their shark obsession.”

Click through to learn about the creatures who can lay claim to the titles of The Fastest, The Most Ferocious, The Deadliest, and The Biggest.

And for more fun, check out the schedule of events: http://unsharkweek.tumblr.com/post/75299622457/the-agenda-for-unshark-week-feb-3-9

Win 6 Great Bird Ebooks from Princeton University Press

Capture
To celebrate the availability of Princeton University Press’s bird books through the iBooks store, we are hosting a sweepstakes giveaway of all 6 titles. See below for several ways to enter or send an email to blog@press.princeton.edu.

The prize will be 6 promo codes that allow the winner to download complimentary copies of The Crossley ID Guide, The Warbler Guide, The World’s Rarest Birds, Hawks at a Distance, The Birds of Peru, and The Unfeathered Bird. This prize can only be used through the iBooks store and to view these books, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 3 or later and iOS 4.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later. There is no device or tablet included in this giveaway.

The giveaway will run from 12:15 AM EST, Monday, February 3 through 12:00 PM EST, Friday, February 7.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Digital copies of our top-selling bird books now available on iBooks

Click here to learn how to win copies of all 6 books

Giveaway ends February 7, 2014.

One of the questions we field most often is, “Why can’t I buy an electronic version of this bird book?” So we are delighted to announce that starting this month, several of our most popular birding and natural history titles are now available as ebooks through the iBooks store.

The books are affordable and look simply amazing in digital form — zoom in on Katrina Van Grouw’s intricate drawings of skeletons in The Unfeathered Bird, explore The Crossley ID Guide‘s layered plates in greater detail, or simply revel in the majestic photos and artwork in The World’s Rarest Birds.

To view sample pages and explore these titles further, please use these links:

Birds of Peru
This is easily one of our all-time best-selling field guides and this ebook features all of the same great information and illustrations as the print edition, but makes it more portable and easier to search.
The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds
This has always been a book screaming for a digital edition. To say the plates in this book look incredible on a tablet would be a massive understatement– they are absolutely jaw-dropping beautiful.
The Warbler Guide
The complete text, photos, and sonograms at your fingertips in time for spring migration. Keep the print copy at home for reference and take this digital book into the field.
The Unfeathered Bird
Zooming in on the drawings reveals new details about structure, function, and evolution.
Hawks at a Distance
Even more useful now that you can zoom in and examine the profile and silhouette of the birds.
The World’s Rarest Birds
Not only do the photos and illustrations look incredible, but built-in search functions mean it is easier to find the information you want.

Birdwalk Grouse Fights, AKA The Blinding of Richard Crossley

Not really, but check out this astounding video of Richard getting roughed up by a Ruffed Grouse.

Here’s what this beauty of a bird looks like in The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds. Seeing the plate side by side with the video really demonstrates the strength of the Crossley style plate in illustrating the way a bird looks and how it acts:

3 ruffed_grouse_master3

Use The Crossley ID Guide in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB is running their annual Big Garden Birdwatch this month. If you are participating in this citizen science event, you might find The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland useful to verify your identifications or prep for a walk. We welcome you to download this free ebook — Common Garden Birds of Britain and Ireland [PDF]. You can store it on your handheld devices or computers. The print edition, featuring more than 300 species is also available in bookstores now.

 

Blackbird Blue Tit Brambling
Chaffinch Coal Tit Dunnock
Eurasian Collared Dove Goldfinch Great-spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit Greenfinch Long-tailed Tit
Nuthatch Robin Song Thrush
Woodpigeon

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

Celebrate the Rufous Hummingbird, ABA’s 2014 Bird of the Year

The American Birding Association just announced its 2014 Bird of the Year will be the Rufous Hummingbird. Check out their announcement below (what a fun video featuring Neil Hayward who has just completed a new record Big Year & Jay Lehman, as well as a cameo by Liz Gordon) and a list of Princeton University Press resources to help you further find and appreciate this beautiful species.

First up, check out the rufous hummingbird entry from Birds of Western North America: A Photographic Guide by Paul Sterry and Brian E. Small.

hummingbirds

 Click here to read a text/html version of the image.

Perfect your rufous hummingbird ID skills with this plate, courtesy of The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds:

Rufous H

Then gather some of our outstanding bird books to round-out your knowledge:

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Hummingbirds of North America
The Photographic Guide
Steve Howell

“The Photographic Guide. . . unites scholarship with unity, and it is outstanding for its photo art, which is both useful and an aesthetic triumph.”–Birding

  • Contains up to 14 full-color photos for each species, with detailed photo captions
  • Detailed introduction covers fundamentals of hummingbird identification, including discussions of anatomy, plumage variation, and molt
  • Comprehensive species accounts describe all plumages, compare similar species in depth, and discuss voice, displays, behavior, geographic range, and seasonal distribution
  • Emphasizes difficult to identify plumages, such as females and immatures
  • Features 200 stunning photos picked specifically to show identification criteria

 

bookjacket

Birds of North America and Greenland
Norman Arlott

Sample the hummingbird spread

“If you have one or more of those oversized guides to North American birds and want something to carry into the field with you, this would be a good addition to your library.”–Dan R. Kunkle, Wildlife Activist

  • Covers more than 900 bird species found in the Nearctic region
  • Features 102 stunning color plates that depict every species
  • Includes concise species accounts and color distribution maps
  • Succinct, compact, and easy to use
bookjacket

The Crossley ID Guide
Eastern Birds
Richard Crossley

“[Crossley] has, a la Kenn Kaufman, digitally lifted the birds out of those photos and then dropped them–perched, walking, flying, diving, swimming–into a habitat that is one big photographic background, thus creating a picture window onto each species. Simultaneously we see the species up close, far away, in flight, at a feeder, in flocks, sitting, singing. Scale is up for grabs, with some of the birds so small and hidden that you don’t see them until a second or third look. But the effect is engaging, exciting and akin to the real experience of birding, where so much happens on the wing, at difficult distance and in odd light.”–Laura Jacobs, Wall Street Journal

  • Revolutionary. This book changes field guide design to make you a better birder
  • A picture says a thousand words. The most comprehensive guide: 640 stunning scenes created from 10,000 of the author’s photographs
  • Reality birding. Lifelike in-focus scenes show birds in their habitats, from near and far, and in all plumages and behaviors
  • Teaching and reference. The first book to accurately portray all the key identification characteristics: size, shape, behavior, probability, and color
  • Practice makes perfect. An interactive learning experience to sharpen and test field identification skills
  • Bird like the experts. The first book to simplify birding and help you understand how to bird like the best
  • An interactive website–www.crossleybirds.com–includes expanded captions for the plates and species updates
bookjacket

Birds of Western North America
A Photographic Guide
Paul Sterry & Brian E. Small

“Brian Small and co-author Paul Sterry have taken the photo-based field guide to a new level. Their new books are beautifully designed and well written. Photos are tack-sharp, and tightly cropped, giving close-up views of each bird.”–Matt Mendenhall, Birder’s World

  • The best, most lavishly illustrated photographic guide to the region’s birds
  • Larger color photos than most other field guides
  • Fresh contemporary design–clear, easy-to-use, and attractive
  • Informative, accessible, and authoritative text
  • Range maps from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
  • Covers entire western half of mainland North America (excluding Mexico) and the arctic and subarctic territorial islands of the U.S. and Canada (excluding Hawaii)

The Crossley Bird ID Contest: The Results!

We’re delighted–or rather, happy as a lark–to announce that we’ve drawn the lucky winner of the Crossley Bird ID Contest, featured in BBC Wildlife Magazine, December 2013 issue. Thank you to BBC Wildlife and to all of the keen birders who flocked to submit their entries for a chance to win a copy of The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland by Richard Crossley & Dominic Couzens.

Could you tell a Bullfinch from a Chaffinch? Are you able to spot a Starling? The answers are below!

BBC Wildlife
The winner is picked from the Princeton bag!

Jenny pecks the winner out of a bag

Draw 2

Jenny chirps with delight as the winner is selected

Congratulations to Clare Adams from Nottingham who correctly identified all of the featured birds. A copy is “winging” its way to you now!

And here is the answer key. How many did you get right?

#1 Coal Tits
#2 Great Spotted Woodpecker
#3 Great Tit
#4 Common Buzzard
#5 Wood Pigeon
#6 Robin
#7 Great Tit
#8 Song Thrush
#9 Chaffinch
#10 Goldfinch
#11 Chaffinch
#12 Bullfinch
#13 Pied Wagtail
#14 Starling

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

Los Angeles Audubon welcomes Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle for Warbler Workshop

Birders-in-lines-for-book-signing
Birders line up for a book-signing following the Warbler Sound Workshop at Los Angeles Audubon

Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, co-authors of The Warbler Guide, visited the Los Angeles Audubon to provide tips on identifying warblers by sound. A terrific round-up of the event is posted on the LA Audubon web site including the advice to allocate time to learn warbler sounds and to make connections between the sounds and imaginary pictures. Read up here: http://losangelesaudubon.org/index.php/chapter-newsletter-mainmenu-98/newsletter-highlights/1315-sound-bite-of-the-warbler-sound-workshop-2013.

If you or your local birding organization would like to host a similar workshop with Tom and Scott, please contact jessica_pellien@press.princeton.edu.

Sabattus Pond Season

How To Be A Better BirderDerek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder and blogger for Maine Birding Field Notes, has been spending all Migration Season birding and keeping track of his results. 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 at the Sabattus Pond.


Sabattus Pond Season-in-Review

Sabattus Pond was frozen on Monday morning, as I expected, thanks to this recent bout of unseasonably cold weather.  While 35 Mallards, 3 Hooded Mergansers, 2 American Black Ducks, and 1 Mallard x black duck hybrid were present in the outlet stream, this likely brings my Sabattus birding season to a close.

But it is just after Sabattus’s freeze-up that LakeAuburn is its most productive.  Today, 117 Canada Geese, 58 Greater Scaup, 46 Lesser Scaup, 41 Ruddy Ducks, 22 Common Goldeneyes, 8 Hooded Mergansers, 1 Bufflehead, and 1 continuing hen Black Scoter were tallied in a less-than-exhaustive search of the large lake.  The Black Scoter is a great bird inland, and she’s been present for at least five weeks now.  Meanwhile, among the Canada Geese, there was this funky mutt – apparently a hybrid with some sort of domestic thing.
CANGhybrid1,LakeAuburn,12-2-13

CANGhybrid2,LakeAuburn,12-2-13

Between visiting the two lakes, I scoured Upper Street in Turner for Snowy Owls (none) or other raptors (just one Red-tailed Hawk), but I did happen upon a small flock of 35 Horned Larks that contained two Lapland Longspurs.  They were feeding at the edge of Pearl Road, taking advantage of where the plow had scraped the sides of ice and snow.  I got this lucky shot of one of the Lapland Longspurs in flight with the Horned Larks.  Unfortunately, the light mist and heavy cloud cover prevented a really great shot.
DSC_0154_LALOwithHOLA,Turner,12-2-13

But back to waterfowl…

Sabattus Pond is one of my favorite birding locations from mid-October through freeze-up.  The diversity of ducks is rarely matched in this part of Maine, and the proximity and ability to study birds (such as Lesser vs. Greater Scaup) is unsurpassed.  Each fall I tell myself I needed to visit Sabattus more often, so this fall I committed to visiting once a week, beginning on 10/30 – I would have started a little earlier in the month, but the weather at the time had been so warm that waterfowl were not yet arriving en masse prior to the end of the month.

I tallied all waterbirds (except for Herring and Ring-billed gulls) on each visit.

On each visit, I also visited LakeAuburn, which is a much different body of water (deeper, sandier, and apparently without the invasive Chinese Mystery Snail that provides the sustenance for most of the birds on Sabattus).  Note, however, that as the numbers of ducks decrease on Sabattus, they begin to increase on LakeAuburn – the last lake to freeze in the region.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the birds on the lake on Monday would return to Sabattus if a warm spell opens the pond back up, and if it does, I am sure birds from points north might drop in as well as they are frozen out of lakes and rivers.  In other words, the duck-watching season on Sabattus may not be over yet, but I think I will be turning my attention elsewhere unless it warms up dramatically.

Meanwhile, on all of my visits to the two lakes, I added at least a few other stops in between in the hopes of finally finding a really “good” bird in Androscoggin County (away from Sabattus, that is).  Uh…nope.  My only real highlights away from the two lakes were the two Lapland Longspurs on Monday.  My rarity drought in AndroscogginCounty might continue, but the waterbird watching is certainly exceptional.

By the way, in a series of spring visits, I have found very, very few ducks on Sabattus Pond, for reasons unknown.  Therefore, other than my annual check on Maine Maple Sunday, I’ll have to anxiously await next October!

click here to see the rest of this post, including Lovitch’s birding tallies for his trips


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