Fun Fact Friday: When Beetles Go Rogue

To celebrate the recent publication of Beetles of Eastern North America, Arthur V. Evans’s tremendously beautiful and comprehensive guide to all creatures coleopteral, we’ll be posting a new “fun fact” about beetles each week. These anecdotes won’t be limited to your standard beetle biology; they’ll surprise you, make you laugh, and wish that you’d bought the book sooner!

Did you know? 

7-24 BeetleIn this week’s edition, we’re bringing you a story all the way from Los Angeles’s Griffith Park. In a rare twist of irony, it seems that the pine tree planted to honor the memory of former Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison has been overrun and subsequently destroyed by beetles of the family Curculionidae.

7-24 HarrisonTree

While the specific type of bark beetle that bested the tree isn’t included in the Eastern edition, we won’t have to wait very long to solve this entomological enigma; Arthur V. Evans is already hard at work on part two, aptly titled Beetles of Western North America

So, now you know: if you’re looking for a self-sustaining weed-wacker, look no further than the beetles in your backyard!

Photo credit: Breakingnews.ie

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Arthur V. Evans is the author of:

7-24 Beetles2 Beetles of Eastern North America
Paperback | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691133041
560 pp. | 8 x 10 | 1,500+ color illus. 31 line illus. | eBook | ISBN: 9781400851829 | Reviews  Table of Contents  Preface[PDF]  Sample Entry[PDF]

New Birds & Natural History Catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new birds and natural history catalog!

Of particular interest is The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. Warblers are among 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.

Also be sure to note Rare Birds of North America by Steve N. G. Howell, Ian Lewington, and Will Russell. This is the first comprehensive illustrated guide to the vagrant birds that occur throughout the United States and Canada. Featuring 275 stunning color plates, this book covers 262 species originating from three very different regions—the Old World, the New World tropics, and the world’s oceans.

And don’t miss out on our forthcoming BirdGenie™ app. BirdGenie is a remarkable app that enables anyone with a supported Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet to identify birds in the backyard, at the local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! It’s like Shazam® for nature—just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie tells you what bird it is!

More of our leading titles in birds and natural history can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. (Your e-mail address will remain confidential!)

Quick Questions for Peter and Rosemary Grant

Grant and Grant_ In Search ofPeter R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant are both emeritus professors in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. They are the co-authors of How and Why Species Multiply: The Radiation of Darwin’s Finches and co-editors of In Search of the Causes of Evolution: From Field Observations to Mechanisms (both Princeton).

B. Rosemary Grant received her B.Sc. (with Honors) from Edinburgh University in Scotland, and completed her Ph.D. at Uppsala University, in Sweden. Peter Grant received his B.A. (with Honors) from Cambridge University, England, completed his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and completed his Post-doctoral Fellowship at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Their combined research efforts continue to offer “unparalleled insights into ecological and evolutionary changes in natural environments,” and in 2013, the couple was awarded the Margaret Morse Nice Prize by the Wilson Ornithological Society.

Now, on to the questions!

PUP: What inspired you to get into your field?
Peter and Rosemary Grant: Early experience followed by stimulating teachers. Before the age of five, we had each enjoyed the English countryside: the lake district of the north in Rosemary’s case and south of London in mine. Some of our earliest memories are similar, such as the thrill of finding a fossil, catching a butterfly, and smelling a flower. Much later as undergraduates we had inspiring teachers, and many of them. Foremost among them were the Edinburgh geneticists C.H. Waddington and D.G. Facloner (for Rosemary) and Yale ecologist G.E. Hutchinson (for me).


There is widespread misunderstanding about evolution; that it occurs extremely slowly….The idea that animals as large as birds might evolve before our eyes is not so well known.


What was the most influential book you’ve read?
Each of us read Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species at an important stage in our lives. This magisterial book opened our eyes to an understanding of the natural world that is within reach with careful observation, experiment, and logical reasoning, It is extraordinarily rich in insights, and repays re-reading, even with people like us who are older than Darwin when he died!

Why did you write this book?
Having written numerous papers in the specialized scientific literature, as well as three books on our research, we believed the time had come to synthesize all we had done and learned by following the fates of finches on Daphne for 40 years. We also wanted to explain and illustrate the excitement of scientific discovery to a broader audience than the professional biologists who might have read our more technical papers. Finally, we wanted to inspire and encourage students who might wish to study the workings of nature in remote places unaffected by humans, but who are not sure if and whether this can be done.

What was the most interesting thing you learned from writing this book?
Perhaps many scientists make the last observation and then start writing a book without returning to their scientific material. This is not what happened in our case. As we developed the main argument in the book about how new species are formed we were stimulated to improve the way we expressed the main ideas, to think along new lines, and to ask new questions. In a few instances those questions led us back to the files of data, to new analyses, and to a greater appreciation of the role of hybridization in evolution.


We are collaborating with no less than five different groups in pursuing evolutionary questions with the data we have collected.


What do you think is book’s most important contribution?
There is widespread misunderstanding about evolution; that it occurs extremely slowly and therefore cannot be studied in a person’s lifetime. This was the view of Charles Darwin. Many biologists and others now know that this is not correct. For example, evolution occurs in the bacteria that cause illness in us, such as streptococcus bacteria in hospitals, and in insects and weedy plants that are agricultural pests. We do our best to control our biological enemies and persecutors, and they evolve in ways that repeatedly thwart us. The idea that animals as large as birds might evolve before our eyes is not so well known, yet our study in the entirely natural world of Daphne Major island has revealed this does in fact happen when there is a change in the environment, and it takes place over a period as short as a year, and repeatedly.

PUP: How did you come up with the title or jacket?
The title is the essence of the book. That was an easy choice. The jacket was the brain-child of a designer employed by Princeton University Press. We already had a strong image for the cover with a picture of Daphne taken at sea level. However, the designer improved on this by picking one of our photographs taken from the land and cropped it creatively to present of visualization of what it is like to actually be on the island.

What is your next project?
Not sure. Our involvement in finch research has not ended with the publication of the book. We are collaborating with no less than five different groups in pursuing evolutionary questions with the data we have collected. We are also thinking about returning to the island to check on the birds, to see who has survived and who has not, and to find out what has happened to the new lineage of finches whose ups and downs we followed for thirty years.

 

 

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Peter R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant are the authors of:

5-23 Grant 40 Years of Evolution: Darwin’s Finches on Daphne Major Island by Peter. R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant
Hardcover | 2014 | $49.50 / £34.95 | ISBN: 9780691160467
432 pp. | 6 x 9 | 44 color illus. 129 line illus. 21 tables. |
eBook | ISBN: 9781400851300 | Reviews  Table of Contents[PDF]  Chapter 1[PDF]

More chances to win bird ebooks!

Congratulations to the winners of our bird ebooks giveaway

Thank you to everyone who entered our giveaway for 6 digital copies of our best-selling and most popular bird books. We had such a wonderful response, I decided to pick two winners. Congratulations to Gaurav Kandlikar and Jill Clark who are now owners of an enviable birding library on their handheld devices!

Gaurav noted this was a “nice way to start the week,” and we agree! But the best comment goes to Jill who compared winning our giveaway to winning the Powerball lottery — well, she called it a close second.

I am also pleased to announce another natural history title is now available in the iBooks store: Rare Birds of North America by Steve Howell, Ian Lewington, and Will Russell

Please become a fan of Princeton University Press on our social media sites or subscribe to this blog to receive news of forthcoming giveaways like this!

Princeton University Press on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrincetonUniversityPress

Princeton University Press on Twitter: https://twitter.com/princetonupress

 

Win 6 Great Bird Ebooks from Princeton University Press

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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.

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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)

Leave a comment if you saw one of these this weekend

Of course, that’s if you can figure out what “one of these” is.

credit Scott Whittle

Photo Credit: Scott Whittle, author of The Warbler Guide

Maybe these icons from this bird’s entry in The Warbler Guide will help you figure out the ID:

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Happy warbling!

Broadwing Hawks are on the move this week through Mid-Atlantic region

One of my favorite raptor sites, Hawk Mountain in Kempton PA, is seeing a steady stream of migrating Broadwing Hawks, so I thought I’d share this gorgeous plate from The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors. Hoping to make it there soon. Do you have a local hawk watch? Give them a shout out in the comments below and I’ll add them to the “places” list below.

 

Broad-wing Hawk - Adult

Places to go see raptors this fall:

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

http://www.hawkmountain.org/

1700 Hawk Mountain Rd.
Kempton, PA 19529

 

 

Using radar and weather to predict bird fall out during migration season, a quick case study from Derek Lovitch

I am crossposting this from Derek Lovitch’s blog. He has had two amazing days watching migrating birds (a complete list of his sightings is available on his blog, so if you want to be struck with true envy over an amazing tally, head there), but what really interests me and is useful to our migration feature this month, is how he uses radar and maps to predict what birds he’ll see and where to find them. So, I have left the bird list alone and present here the meat and potatoes of his post. I hope it helps everyone understand the power of using weather/radar/maps during migration time:

 

Simply put: wow!  That was one heck of a flight on Day 1.  In fact, it was downright overwhelming at times – flocks of flickers, waves of warblers, packs of waxwings.  It was almost too much to count, and thankfully, Jenny Howard agreed (OK, so maybe I didn’t exactly ask, but beg) to tally flickers for the busiest part of the morning for me. That helped a whole lot.

After a flood like the morning of Day 1, I am not disappointed by the slow, but steady trickle through the point this morning on Day 2.  It was a more manageable number to count, with quite a few birds lower than yesterday, and often only a few at a time; it was easier to sort through.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting Day 2 to be quite this good.  And despite really only a “good” flight, parulas had their second highest tally – I didn’t think there would be any left after yesterday’s flight!  And yes, this more manageable flight was more “enjoyable,” if considerably less awe-inspiring.

So, what made me have lower expectations for today?  Let’s go to the radar!

First, the massive flight overnight Monday into Tuesday that led to all of the records yesterday.  I have included the 10pm, 12am, 2am, and 4am radar and velocity images:
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Combined, these images show a very strong flight all night long, with a lot of birds offshore come twilight, and likely a lot of birds arriving at the coast come dawn.  Looking at that image when I went to bed, and when I awoke, coupled with the light northwesterly winds all night left no doubt that things would be hopping at Sandy Point.  And, as we now know, there most certainly was. If you see a radar image that looks like this – go birding in the morning!

In fact, it was a good day all-around for migrants, and everywhere we looked up yesterday, raptors were on the move.

winds, 110am,9-17-13

Now, let’s take a look a the radar and velocity images from 10pm, 12am, 2am, and 4am last night:
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kl

mn

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As night fell Tuesday night (Day 1, ed note), clear and mostly calm conditions let birds take to the air once again – but not nearly as many as the night before (pre-Day 1). Notice how much smaller the area of return is, and how much less dense? Meanwhile, the velocity image was much less distinctly fast-moving, north-to-south as the previous night (of course, with little to no wind, the ground speed of the birds would be less anyway) – a little more ambiguous than the night before.  Furthermore, with a forecast for westerly winds (not as good as northwesterly), and the chance that they would become southwesterly by dawn, I did consider skipping Sandy Point this morning, but with the rest of the week looking even less productive, I knew I had to give it a go.

And, obviously, I am glad that I did.  But upon returning to the store, and checking those above radar images once again, I find it a bit odd that the radar image (small in diameter, but very dense) did not translate to a more distinct velocity image.  Perhaps there was a lot of slow-moving stuff up there (insects, pollen, dust, etc) that clouded the motion of the birds.  Either way, it was a good night for flying, and if it’s a good night for flying, it’s a good morning to be at Sandy Point!

 

j9671[1]Derek Lovitch has worked on avian research and education projects throughout the United States, has written numerous articles for birding publications, and was a columnist for Birding magazine. He now owns and runs Freeport Wild Bird Supply in Maine. He is also author of How to Be a Better Birder which you can check out here.

Migration Sweepstakes — enter to win everything you need to make the most of Fall birdwatching!

To kick off our Migration blog coverage, we’re taking to the skies with a Rafflecopter giveaway event!

Our prize package includes a copy of 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 win? There are numerous ways to win, 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 at the beginning of October.

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Two for Tuesday – Britain’s Freshwater Fishes & England’s Rare Mosses

From our WildGuides selection, we are introducing two new beautifully illustrated books for your personal library.

j9973Britain’s Freshwater Fishes
by Mark Everard

Britain hosts a diversity of freshwater environments, from torrential hill streams and lowland rivers to lakes, reservoirs, ponds, canals, ditches, and upper reaches of estuaries. Britain’s Freshwater Fishes covers the 53 species of freshwater and brackish water fishes that are native or have been introduced and become naturalized. This beautifully illustrated guide features high-quality in-the-water or on-the-bank photographs throughout. Detailed species accounts describe the key identification features and provide information on status, size and weight, habitat, ecology, and conservation. Written in an accessible style, the book also contains introductory sections on fish biology, fish habitats, how to identify fishes, and conservation and legislation.

 

 

 

j9975England’s Rare Mosses and Liverworts:
Their History, Ecology, and Conservation
by Ron D. Porley

This is the first book to cover England’s rare and threatened mosses and liverworts, collectively known as bryophytes. As a group, they are the most ancient land plants and occupy a unique position in the colonization of the Earth by plant life. However, many are at risk from habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and other factors. Britain is one of the world’s best bryologically recorded areas, yet its mosses and liverworts are not well known outside a small band of experts. This has meant that conservation action has tended to lag behind that of more charismatic groups such as birds and mammals. Of the 918 different types of bryophyte in England, 87 are on the British Red List and are regarded as threatened under the strict criteria of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

This book aims to raise awareness by providing stunning photographs–many never before published–of each threatened species, as well as up-to-date profiles of 84 of them, including status, distribution, history, and conservation measures. The book looks at what bryophytes are, why they are important and useful, and what makes them rare; it also examines threats, extinctions, ex situ conservation techniques, legislation, and the impact of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity.

For more selections from WildGuides, please visit:
http://press.princeton.edu/wildguides/