50 lucky birders will win a North American Warbler Fold-Out Guide

Warblers

In honor of the start of warbler migration season, we’re giving away the laminated, portable North American Warbler Fold-Out Guide to the first 50 entrants to our giveaway hosted by Rafflecopter. The foldout includes identification data for warblers in North America with accompanying QR codes that provide 3D models and songs.

To enter, please follow the instructions in the box below. Good luck!

Warblers

 

*UPDATE*

As of 3:21PM EST, we have reached 50 entrants. Thank you to everyone who participated! If you missed your chance, check back next week for another giveaway.

Kicking Off Warbler Migration Season

Welcome back to the warblers! As winter 2016 struggles to come to an end, warblers are being spotted across the country. From now until mid-May, take the opportunity to watch these birds travel back from as far as South America. PUP has a variety of resources for warbler identification. If you want to go in search of these musical little birds, grab your binoculars and we’ll supply the guides!

WarblerThe Warbler Guide is an essential resource for the serious warbler enthusiast. The wealth of information alongside beautiful photographs makes identification easy.

If you don’t want to bring a heavy book with you into the field, fear not—we have lots of portable options! You can download the Warbler Guide App for iOS to get all the benefits of the book in the palm of your hand, plus many more, or you can download our free pdfs. The Quickfinders sort warblers in a variety of ways to suit your needs, and The North American Warblers fold out has QR codes to deliver the most information in a convenient package.

As the warblers come flying back, use these guides to find and identify them in their natural habitat and be sure to tweet your photos to @PrincetonNature.

Warbler

April fooling among our avian friends

cowbird

On April 1st we devise clever pranks and hoaxes for our friends while trying to avoid becoming April fools ourselves. In the animal kingdom, trickery can be used as a means of survival. For example, brood parasitism is the practice of one bird laying their eggs in the nest of another bird (of the same or different species), causing the fool to raise the trickster’s young in addition to, or sometimes at the expense of, their own. Songbirds and other groups including grebes, waterfowl, gulls, and pigeons frequently engage in this behavior among their own species.

The Common Cuckoo of Eurasia is best known for laying its eggs in the nests of birds of different species. It has perfected egg mimicry, making it difficult for the host to differentiate between its own eggs and those of the interloper.

Cowbirds are another species that engage in brood parasitism, to the point where they never build nests of their own. One hundred forty four species of birds have reared cowbird young. The female cowbird will wait until the potential host has completed its nest and laid its eggs before sneaking into the nest just before dawn (while both bird parents are away) and depositing a single egg within a few seconds. Later in the day, the cowbird will steal one of the host’s own eggs, poke a hole in it, and eat the contents. In many cases the host is successfully fooled and will raise the cowbird’s eggs with their own. Some birds—including the American Robin and Gray Catbird—recognize cowbird eggs and push them out of the nest.

The cowbird and cuckoo are clearly masters of fooling. This April Fools Day, think of their example as you set up the perfect pranks to trick your friends!

cuckoo

Source: The Birdwatcher’s Companion to North American Birdlife 

Bird Fact Friday – Where do hawks migrate?

From page 7 of Hawks from Every Angle:

Hawks migrate twice a year as they travel to and from their breeding grounds. They tend to congregate in mountainous and coastal areas. Peninsula sites in particular, such as Cape May Point in New Jersey, are great places to witness raptor migration. There are more than 1,000 known hawk migration sites throughout North America, and new ones are discovered each year as raptor watching increases in popularity. The Hawk Migration Association of North America publishes spring and fall journals that are necessary for anyone interested in witnessing hawks in their natural habitat.

Hawks from Every Angle: How to Identify Raptors In Flight
Jerry Liguori

hawksIdentifying hawks in flight is a tricky business. Across North America, tens of thousands of people gather every spring and fall at more than one thousand known hawk migration sites—from New Jersey’s Cape May to California’s Golden Gate. Yet, as many discover, a standard field guide, with its emphasis on plumage, is often of little help in identifying those raptors soaring, gliding, or flapping far, far away.

Hawks from Every Angle takes hawk identification to new heights. It offers a fresh approach that literally looks at the birds from every angle, compares and contrasts deceptively similar species, and provides the pictures (and words) needed for identification in the field. Jerry Liguori pinpoints innovative, field-tested identification traits for each species from the various angles that they are seen.

Featuring 339 striking color photos on 68 color plates and 32 black & white photos, Hawks from Every Angle is unique in presenting a host of meticulously crafted pictures for each of the 19 species it covers in detail—the species most common to migration sites throughout the United States and Canada. All aspects of raptor identification are discussed, including plumage, shape, and flight style traits.

For all birders who follow hawk migration and have found themselves wondering if the raptor in the sky matches the one in the guide, Hawks from Every Angle—distilling an expert’s years of experience for the first time into a comprehensive array of truly useful photos and other pointers for each species—is quite simply a must.

Dynamic Ecology is searching for the best books in the field

Do you think Princeton University Press publishes some of the best books on ecology? You’re in good company! The Dynamic Ecology blog is hosting a vote to find those books that appeal to ecologists and students the most and they’ve included thirteen PUP books in the mix. Vote for up to three of your favorites.

Ecology

Ecological Communities
Donald R. Strong, Jr., Daniel Simberloff, Lawrence G. Abele, & Anne B. Thistle

Ecological Diversity and Its Measurement
Anne E. Magurran

Resource Competition and Community Structure
David Tilman

The Ecological Detective
Ray Hilborn & Marc Mangel

Geographical Ecology
Robert H. MacArthur

The Theory of Sex Allocation
Eric L. Charnov

Ecological Models and Data in R
Benjamin M. Bolker

Stability and Complexity in Model Ecosystems
Robert M. May

Spatial Ecology
David Tilman & Peter Kareiva

Ecological Stoichiometry
Robert W. Sterner & James J. Elser

Foraging Theory
David W. Stephens & John R. Krebs

The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography
Stephen P. Hubbell

The Theory of Island Biogeography
Robert H. MacArthur & Edward O. Wilson

Ecology

Bird Fact Friday – When do birds of the same species vary in color?

From page 361 of The Birdwatcher’s Companion to North American Birdlife:

According to Gloger’s Rule, representatives of bird or mammal species that breed in warmer, more humid climates tend to be darker in color than those breeding in cooler, drier climates. For example, the pale plumage of the desert-dwelling races of the Horned Lark contrasts strikingly with that of races from the humid Northwest. The implications of Gloger’s Rule are not yet understood.

The Birdwatcher’s Companion to North American Birdlife
Christopher W. Leahy
Illustrations by Gordon Morrison

birdsThe quintessential A-Z guide, this is a book that anyone interested in birds will want to have close at hand. First published more than twenty years ago, this highly respected reference volume has been fully revised and updated. It captures the fundamental details as well as the immense fascination of North American bird life in a style that is authoritative, yet fresh, witty, and eminently readable.

Both a practical handbook for amateurs and a handy reference for seasoned birders, it provides accounts of the basic elements of birdlife, as well as a wealth of easy-to-access information on such subjects as bird physiology and anatomy, terms and jargon, name definitions and etymology, and ornithological groupings.

Readers will discover everything from the color of a dipper’s eggs (glossy, white, and unmarked) to the number of species of woodpeckers in the world (216). They will also find more than one hundred of the best-known and most colorful colloquial names for birds, alphabetized and briefly defined. Collective nouns relating to birdlife—for example, “an exaltation of larks”—are included in the “Nouns of Assemblage” section. Biographical sketches of persons responsible for describing or naming a significant number of North American species are also included, as well as handsome and accurate illustrations by Gordon Morrison. And for those who want to go beyond reading about their favorite birds and take to the great outdoors, the book offers still more useful information: descriptive entries on a selection of the best-known birdwatching spots of North America.

Bird Fact Friday – Roadrunners

From page 24 of Birds of India:

The Phasianidae family of birds includes Partridges, Pheasants, and Allies. When threatened, they prefer to escape on foot despite their powerful flight capability. They feed and nest on the ground, but many of them roost in trees at night. They forage by scratching at the ground with strong feet to expose food hidden among dead leaves or in the soil.

Birds of India: Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives 
Second Edition
Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp & Tim Inskipp

IndiaThe best field guide to the birds of the Indian subcontinent is now even better. Thoroughly revised, with 73 new plates and many others updated or repainted, the second edition of Birds of India now features all maps and text opposite the plates for quicker and easier reference. Newly identified species have been added, the text has been extensively revised, and all the maps are new. Comprehensive and definitive, this is the indispensable guide for anyone birding in this part of the world.

Remembering Fukushima

by Timothy Jorgensen

The human cost in terms of death and suffering, from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, was immense. The death toll was over 15,900, with an additional 2,600 missing and presumed dead. In addition, 340,000 people were displaced from their homes.

The recovery effort continues but there is a long way to go, and many people are still not able to return to their normal lives—yet another form of suffering. The large numbers of displaced people present a huge public health challenge for the Japanese government with no clear end in sight. On top of that, radioactivity that was released from the compromised nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant continues to thwart efforts to achieve full recovery. The local environment is still contaminated with radioactivity, and radioactivity stored on the plant grounds still threatens to taint groundwater.

Now that the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami has run its course, people are anxious to return home and resume their lives. But a major concern is whether it is safe to return to areas with radioactive contamination, particularly in light of the reality that radiation levels will not be soon returning to the low background levels that existed prior to the accident.

The Japanese government has set a radiation mitigation goal of 20 mSv per year as the maximum annual dose allowable for returning evacuees. Prior to the accident, 1 mSv per year had been the dose limit for the public—a limit that is no longer sustainable if the region is ever to be reinhabited. The Fukushima evacuees now need to decide for themselves whether the government’s new 20 mSv per year dose limit presents a personal risk level that is acceptable. It is an important decision because, one way or another, how they decide will have a huge impact on how the rest of their lives unfold.

fukushima image

CC image courtesy of greensefa on flickr

As I describe in my book, Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation, we have over a century of experience with human exposures to man-made radiation, and that experience has taught us much about the health risks at various radiation dose levels. These data on human exposures suggest that 20 mSv of dose represents a lifetime risk of a fatal cancer of about 1 in 1,000. Stated another way, if 1,000 people lived in a radiation-contaminated area for one year and received this level of dose during their stay, we might expect one of them to come down with a fatal cancer at some point in their remaining lifetime due to that radiation exposure. Meanwhile, as many as 250 of those same 1,000 people would be expected to sustain a fatal cancer as some point during their life from non-radiation causes because, unfortunately, cancer is a common disease.

So compared to people living elsewhere in Japan, the cancer rate for the returning Fukushima residents would raise from a baseline of 250 out of 1,000, up to 251 out of 1,000, during their first year of rehabitation. Each additional year of residence at 20 mSv per year would increase the lifetime cancer risk level by one additional victim per 1,000. So two years of 20-mSv exposure would result in 252 cancers out of 1,000, compared to the 250 out of 1,000 risk level in uncontaminated areas.

It must be understood that these numbers are just approximations of the cancer risks. But they are good approximations backed up by a century of health experience with human radiation exposures, including atomic bomb victims, nuclear fallout victims, and people exposed to medical radiation procedures. They may not be very precise estimates, but they are definitely in the ballpark for the true level of cancer risk from radiation.

fukushima image

CC image courtesy of thlerry ehrmann

Now, knowing the risk of cancer associated with returning, what are the risks of not returning. Well, that will depend more upon the exact personal circumstances of affected individuals with no two people having the same types of risks. Beyond various health risks, there will be a spectrum of both social and financial risks associated with either returning or not returning that must be considered. None of those disparate risk estimates will be anywhere near as reliable as the cancer risk levels that we have just projected. The cancer risks are just one aspect of the risk/benefit analysis that each evacuee must make. But, for all their imperfections, the cancer risk estimates are the most accurate part of that analysis.

Whether to return to contaminated communities is a hard decision, but all intelligent people are capable of making such a decision about their own health and wellbeing, and they have the right to do so, as long as they have access to credible and intelligible information regarding the risks involved. And it’s actually good that people make their own decisions and not rely on government agencies to make decisions on their behalf because only they, and not the government, know exactly what uniquely personal and individual interests they have at stake.

Strange GlowTimothy J. Jorgensen is author of Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation. He is associate professor of radiation medicine and director of the Health Physics and Radiation Protection Graduate Program at Georgetown University. He lives with his family in Rockville, Maryland.

Bird Fact Friday – Flightless Ducks

From page 32 of The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland:

During the summer, male ducks moult such that they lose all their flight feathers for several weeks and look remarkably similar to the females of their breed. It usually occurs on breeding grounds that are chosen for their plentiful food supplies and water that is deep enough to allow diving. These two factors, combined with duller plumage that makes it easier to camouflage, protect the flightless birds from predators. When they are in this state they are called eclipse males.

The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland
Richard Crossley & Dominic Couzens

CrossleyThis guide is a celebration of the beauty of birds and the British and Irish countryside. Aimed at beginner and intermediate birders, yet suitable for all levels, this new volume in the groundbreaking Crossley ID Guide series is the most user-friendly guide to the birds of Britain and Ireland. Following The Crossley ID Guides’ award-winning design, this book looks at all regularly occurring species in Britain and Ireland, and shows readers how to identify birds in their natural habitats using size, structure, shape, probability, and behavior—just like the experts do! Stunning images are accompanied by the colorful and compelling text of Dominic Couzens, one of Britain’s leading nature writers.

This unique book treats more than 300 species—all the regularly occurring birds likely to be encountered by observers—and the guide’s attractive pages provide a real-life approach to bird identification. Beautiful, in-focus scenes present birds in various plumages and in lifelike poses set in identifiable British and Irish habitats. The plates also illustrate how a bird’s appearance changes with distance. Organizing images in cohesive, easy-to-understand plates rather than as separate photographs, this book also sets itself apart by containing more images that demonstrate flight, behavior, habitat, and plumages than any other volume available. Not only is this field guide a reference book, it is also a spectacular teaching resource that makes it easy for nature enthusiasts to see and appreciate the big picture of bird identification.

Bird Fact Friday – The elusive fairy penguin

From page 105-106 of Penguins: The Ultimate Guide:

The fairy penguin, native to Australia and New Zealand, is the smallest of all types of penguins. On average they weigh just 1 kilogram. Most of their activities are well hidden; they build their nests underground and, when they do have to travel in plain sight, do it in tight packs, scurrying quickly from point A to point B.

Penguins: The Ultimate Guide
Tui De Roy, Mark Jones, and Julie Cornthwaite

PenguinsPenguins are perhaps the most beloved birds. On land, their behavior appears so humorous and expressive that we can be excused for attributing to them moods and foibles similar to our own. Few realize how complex and mysterious their private lives truly are, as most of their existence takes place far from our prying eyes, hidden beneath the ocean waves. This stunningly illustrated book provides a unique look at these extraordinary creatures and the cutting-edge science that is helping us to better understand them. Featuring more than 400 breathtaking photos, this is the ultimate guide to all 18 species of penguins, including those with retiring personalities or nocturnal habits that tend to be overlooked and rarely photographed.

A book that no bird enthusiast or armchair naturalist should do without, Penguins includes discussions of penguin conservation, informative species profiles, fascinating penguin facts, and tips on where to see penguins in the wild.

Presenting the new book trailer for Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation

Five years ago on March 12, following a devastating tsunami, Fukushima Prefecture in Japan experienced the largest release of radioactive materials since the infamous nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl 30 years before. The world, understandably, was braced for the worst. But molecular radiation biologist Tim Jorgensen, author of Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation says this accident was no Chernobyl. The levels measured at Fukushima after the meltdown aren’t much higher than the annual background levels that already existed—a fact that does little to allay fears for many. How much then, do we really know about radiation and its actual dangers? Though radiation is used in everything from x-rays to cell phones, much of the population still has what Jorgensen considers an uninformed aversion to any type of exposure. In this fascinating scientific history, he describes mankind’s extraordinary, often fraught relationship with radiation.

We are pleased to present the new book trailer for Strange Glow:

Bird Fact Friday – Why do birds hybridize?

From page 26-27 of Waterfowl of North America, Europe & Asia:

Birds mate with other birds of different species in the wild for several reasons. Usually there is genetic closeness, since if the parent genomes’ are too distant offspring will be sterile or unviable. Birds with different courtship rituals, breeding times, or habitats usually won’t mate, unless geographic restrictions are lifted (such as in captivity) when it becomes more common. Sometimes hybridization occurs because of interspecific parasitism, which leads some species of ducks to lay a portion of their eggs in the nests of other species. This can produce an imprinting phenomenon in the female of the host species, affecting the choice of sexual partners later in life. Other causes of hybridization are described in Waterfowl of North America, Europe & Asia.

Waterfowl of North America, Europe, and Asia
An Identification Guide
Sébastien Reeber

ReeberThis is the ultimate guide for anyone who wants to identify the ducks, geese, and swans of North America, Europe, and Asia. With 72 stunning color plates (that include more than 920 drawings), over 650 superb photos, and in-depth descriptions, this book brings together the most current information on 84 species of Eurasian and North American waterfowl, and on more than 100 hybrids. The guide delves into taxonomy, identification features, determination of age and sex, geographic variations, measurements, voice, molt, and hybridization. In addition, the status of each species is treated with up-to-date details on distribution, population size, habitats, and life cycle. Color plates and photos are accompanied by informative captions and 85 distribution maps are also provided. Taken together, this is an unrivaled, must-have reference for any birder with an interest in the world’s waterfowl.