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Princeton University Press is pleased to announce the launch of the Princeton Nature Instagram, an extension of the Princeton Birds & Nature social media channels we curate on Facebook and Twitter, as well as here on our blog.

Making use of the array of features offered on Instagram, we’ll be introducing our readers to the new books and perennial favorites on our expanding natural history list. Our popular Bird Fact Friday series, along with various recurring series like Big Pacific, will also make appearances on Instagram, where we can offer you a glimpse of the stunning illustration programs. We’re looking forward to showcasing our latest publications, and putting them into action on the various hiking trails, gardens, and scenic locations around Princeton. In addition, we’ll be holding giveaways, quizzes, and using the Stories feature to highlight our titles in new and exciting ways. You can expect information on our upcoming BirdGenie app, which will be available on supported Apple® or Android® smartphones and tablets in Spring 2018.

Follow us @princetonnature for the latest photos and videos from our Princeton Birds & Natural History titles. We look forward to taking you around the world, one photo at a time.

Bird Fact Friday – The Snowy Sheathbill

Adapted from page 190-191 of Antarctic Wildlife:

The Snowy Sheathbill is a chunky, broad-winged, short-billed, short-tailed bird that recalls a pigeon, particularly in its rapid flight. It has entirely white plumage, with pink facial skin, a yellow-grey bill and dark grey legs. Juveniles are similar, but have a smaller facial wattle. The combination of behaviour, habitat, shape and plumage render this remarkable bird unmistakable.

Watching this ugly yet endearing bird provides great amusement. Snowy Sheathbills are hyperactive, walking rapidly yet clumsily through penguin colonies and across open ground. They are very tame and inquisitive, regularly approaching human visitors and even investigating their clothing and gear on the off chance that they contain illicit foodstuffs. This species is fond of flying out to ships and perching on zodiacs, often balancing on one leg. A gregarious bird, squabbling groups sometimes utter a crow-like “caw ”.

The Snowy Sheathbill (Chionis albus) take their English name from the bony casing (sheath) in which the bill is encased, rather like a sword in its scabbard.

Sheathbills are the ‘cleaners’ of seal and penguin colonies, playing a vital ecological role. Perhaps the ultimate in sheathbill grossness was the individual watched devouring a tapeworm that had just been ejected from a Chinstrap Penguin’s intestine. However, having them around is a mixed blessing for penguins as they are also cunning confidence tricksters. Pairs work together to distract adult penguins feeding their chicks with regurgitated krill. One sheathbill pecks at a penguin until it spills the meal, at which point its partner leaps in and grabs the prize – and sheathbills are not averse to seizing unguarded eggs.

Sheathbills are remarkable for several reasons. Among their many claims to fame, the Sheathbill family (Chionidae) is the only bird family that breeds solely on Antarctica. Sheathbills are, however, the only regularly occurring Antarctic bird that does not have webbed feet, so they avoid contact with water.


Antarctic Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide
By James Lowen

Antarctic Wildlife is the definitive identification guide to the birds and marine mammals of the Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage, and Beagle Channel. This easy-to-use photographic field guide enables visitors to this unique region of the world–newcomer and seasoned traveler alike–to identify with confidence the penguins, whales, seals, seabirds, and other stunning wildlife they encounter on their journey. Full-color photographs show typical views of each species of bird or marine mammal, together with the terrestrial plants likely to be seen. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, give tips on where to look, and highlight interesting facts. This one-of-a-kind guide also includes introductory chapters that cover the wildlife of each Antarctic environment by season, as well as information on tourism and Antarctic cruising that will help visitors get the most from their trip.

Antarctic Wildlife is a must-have photographic guide for travelers taking the standard cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina, to the great white continent, and for anyone interested in the diverse wildlife found in this remote part of the world.

  • Covers the wildlife of the Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage, and Beagle Channel
  • Features full-color photographs throughout
  • Describes key identification features and gives tips on where to look
  • Includes an introduction to Antarctic environments and information on Antarctic cruising

Bird Fact Friday – Antarctica’s Crested Duck

Adapted from page 90 of Antarctic Wildlife:

The Crested Duck is a large brown and buff duck with a shaggy crest and dark eye-mask found along the Beagle Channel. These ducks are almost always seen in pairs, and only rarely gathers in flocks. They feed quietly on or by the shoreline, usually in pairs or family parties. Plumage is mid-brown with large buff blotches on flanks and scapulars, with a paler brown-grey color on head, which highlights their dark brown eye-mask and crown sides. Their long, droopy crest is often held flat against the rear of their head. At close range, their flaming red eye is striking.

A Crested Duck (Lophonetta specularioides) is usually about 50-55 cm in length.

In flight, the white trailing-edge contrasts with their otherwise blackish wings, and a small chestnut-purple panel in the centre of each wing sometimes catches the light. Instead of migrating north to milder climes, Crested Ducks see out the harsh Patagonian winter by moving to sheltered spots on unfrozen waters.

Antarctic Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide
By James Lowen

Antarctic Wildlife is the definitive identification guide to the birds and marine mammals of the Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage, and Beagle Channel. This easy-to-use photographic field guide enables visitors to this unique region of the world–newcomer and seasoned traveler alike–to identify with confidence the penguins, whales, seals, seabirds, and other stunning wildlife they encounter on their journey. Full-color photographs show typical views of each species of bird or marine mammal, together with the terrestrial plants likely to be seen. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, give tips on where to look, and highlight interesting facts. This one-of-a-kind guide also includes introductory chapters that cover the wildlife of each Antarctic environment by season, as well as information on tourism and Antarctic cruising that will help visitors get the most from their trip.

Antarctic Wildlife is a must-have photographic guide for travelers taking the standard cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina, to the great white continent, and for anyone interested in the diverse wildlife found in this remote part of the world.

  • Covers the wildlife of the Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage, and Beagle Channel
  • Features full-color photographs throughout
  • Describes key identification features and gives tips on where to look
  • Includes an introduction to Antarctic environments and information on Antarctic cruising

 

Bird Fact Friday — the White-browed Robin Chat

From page 134 of Birds of the Masai Mara:

The White-browed Robin Chat is a thrush-sized bird with a grey back and orange underparts. Common in lodge and camp gardens where there are large and scattered trees and lush undergrowth, the White-browed Robin Chat is generally a retiring bird, but can be easily tamed. With its striking head-pattern, bright underparts and burnt-orange tail in flight, this bird is easily recognised.

A White-browed Robin Chat (Cossypha heuglini). Photo credit: Adam Scott Kennethdy.

The cyclical song starts quietly but increases in volume and pace. Pairs will often engage in powerful duets, especially when rival pairs are nearby, and the noise can be deafening. It is common to see this bird feeding its young, which are similar to the adults but heavily spotted and lack the strong face pattern. If you are very lucky, you may also see adults feeding a dark, heavily barred fledgling that is far larger than itself – this will be a juvenile Red-chested Cuckoo, a species that routinely lays its eggs in robin chat nests.

Birds of the Masai Mara
By Adam Scott Kennedy

Birds of the Masai Mara is a remarkably beautiful photographic guide featuring the bird species likely to be encountered by visitors to the popular Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. With an eye-catching layout, easy-to-use format, and no-jargon approach, the book contains more than 300 stunning photographs covering over 200 species of birds and is accessible and informative, rather than purely identification-based. A handy, brief introduction provides visitors with background on the habitats of the national park, and the guide’s habitat-based approach makes it simple to identify any bird species according to where it is found. Based on the firsthand experiences of the author, Birds of the Masai Mara is an ideal companion to all those visiting the national reserve and to bird aficionados interested in learning more about the region.

  • The only photographic guide to focus solely on the bird species of the Masai Mara National Reserve
  • More than 300 remarkable photographs covering over 200 species
  • Accessible text explores bird species behavior and species etymology
  • A brief and handy introduction examines the habitats of the Masai Mara
  • Easy-to-use habitat-based layout makes exciting birdwatching easy

First published in 2012.

 

 

Bird Fact Friday — The Variegated Fairywren

It’s Black Bird Fact Friday, so let’s celebrate with a look at another beautiful bird.

From page 230 of Birds of Australia:

Australia’s most widespread fairywren. Like males of several other fairywrens, the male Variegated has a blue crown contiguous with a pointed blue ear patch, a black throat and upper breast, a white lower breast, and a large chestnut shoulder patch. The blue markings are not uniform and have a bright, shimmering iridescent quality. There are distinct subspecies, which differ in the intensity of the blue crown colour. The males can be separated from those of Lovely, Blue-breasted, and Red-winged Fairywrens by the light blue edges at the sides of the breast, lacking in those species.

A female Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti). Photo credit: Geoff Jones.

Females differmuch more among subspecies; over most of Australia they are sandy brown above and buff below, with a white-tipped blue tail and chestnut lores and eye rings that create a masked appearance. Superb Fairywren females differ in lacking a fine white tip to the tail. Variegated females from Arnhem Land (NT) and the Kimberley region (WA) are white below and have black wings and beautiful powder-blue upperparts. Small groups of this common bird generally favour undergrowth and clearings within habitats such as open woodlands, eucalypt forests, mallee, mulga, and even rainforest edges in e.Australia. Variegated is found all over mainland Australia except the s. and n. extremities.

Birds of Australia
By Iain Campbell, Sam Woods & Nick Leseberg
With photography by Geoff Jones

Australia is home to a spectacular diversity of birdlife, from parrots and penguins to emus and vibrant passerines. Birds of Australia covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants and features more than 1,100 stunning color photographs, including many photos of subspecies and plumage variations never before seen in a field guide. Detailed facing-page species accounts describe key identification features such as size, plumage, distribution, behavior, and voice. This one-of-a-kind guide also provides extensive habitat descriptions with a large number of accompanying photos. The text relies on the very latest IOC taxonomy and the distribution maps incorporate the most current mapping data, making this the most up-to-date guide to Australian birds.

  • Covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants
  • Features more than 1,100 stunning color photos
  • Includes facing-page species accounts, habitat descriptions, and distribution maps
  • The ideal photographic guide for beginners and seasoned birders alike

Bird Fact Friday — Red-Rumped Parrot

From page 194 of Birds of Australia:

The male Red-Rumped Parrot is a bright green parrot with a red rump, lemon-yellow belly and vent, and a subtle blue wash on the shoulder and forehead. It is told from male Mulga Parrot by its lack of red on the nape and vent and absence of a yellow shoulder patch. Females are dull brownish-green with little colour except some green on the rump. The lack of any strong shoulder mark or reddish nape patch separates this species from female Mulga Parrot.

A male Red-Rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus)

Red-rumped parrot is most likely to be found in pairs or small flocks. It readily perches in the open, is often conspicuous and approachable, and is more regularly found around country towns than Mulga Parrot. Red-rumped is a common species of the south-east, where it occurs in farmlands with scattered trees and grassy and other open woodlands, often around watercourses.

Birds of Australia
By Iain Campbell, Sam Woods & Nick Leseberg
With photography by Geoff Jones

Australia is home to a spectacular diversity of birdlife, from parrots and penguins to emus and vibrant passerines. Birds of Australia covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants and features more than 1,100 stunning color photographs, including many photos of subspecies and plumage variations never before seen in a field guide. Detailed facing-page species accounts describe key identification features such as size, plumage, distribution, behavior, and voice. This one-of-a-kind guide also provides extensive habitat descriptions with a large number of accompanying photos. The text relies on the very latest IOC taxonomy and the distribution maps incorporate the most current mapping data, making this the most up-to-date guide to Australian birds.

  • Covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants
  • Features more than 1,100 stunning color photos
  • Includes facing-page species accounts, habitat descriptions, and distribution maps
  • The ideal photographic guide for beginners and seasoned birders alike

 

Bird Fact Friday — The Spinifex Pigeon

From page 62 of Birds of Australia:

A handsome, reddish inland species, Spinifex Pigeon is mostly ruddy-coloured and has a pointed rufous topknot and a striking face pattern: Bare red skin surrounds a pale eye, and the face is striped black and white, with some subtle blue markings too. Bold black bars are spread across the wings and sides of the mantle, and some subspecies also show a bold white bar across the chest. It is inconspicuous when it forages on the ground, and is well camoufl aged, as its reddish colouration mirrors the red dirt and the rocky outcrops within the arid landscapes it inhabits: rocky and hilly areas and spinifex grasslands within the north of the Outback.

The Spinifex Pigeon (Geophaps plumifera) is typically 7.5-9 inches tall.

It occurs patchily within the NT, c. and n. WA, far w. QLD, and far n. SA. Spinifex Pigeon is never far from water in its arid environment, and is therefore best located around shrinking water sources late in the dry season, when these nomadic birds become more concentrated.

Birds of Australia
By Iain Campbell, Sam Woods & Nick Leseberg
With photography by Geoff Jones

Australia is home to a spectacular diversity of birdlife, from parrots and penguins to emus and vibrant passerines. Birds of Australia covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants and features more than 1,100 stunning color photographs, including many photos of subspecies and plumage variations never before seen in a field guide. Detailed facing-page species accounts describe key identification features such as size, plumage, distribution, behavior, and voice. This one-of-a-kind guide also provides extensive habitat descriptions with a large number of accompanying photos. The text relies on the very latest IOC taxonomy and the distribution maps incorporate the most current mapping data, making this the most up-to-date guide to Australian birds.

  • Covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants
  • Features more than 1,100 stunning color photos
  • Includes facing-page species accounts, habitat descriptions, and distribution maps
  • The ideal photographic guide for beginners and seasoned birders alike

 

 

Bird Fact Friday —The Secretarybird, an odd raptor

From page 180 of Birds of Kruger National Park:

The Sectretarybird is a very odd bird of prey in an ancient lineage and its own family. It is a tall, long-legged, crane-like, ground-loving raptor with distinctive quill-like plumes on its head and bright-red facial skin. In flight, the combination of dark trailing edge to the wing, diamond-shaped tail and long spatulate central tail projection is unmistakable. This bird is uncommon in Kruger, numbering about 300 individuals, and is declining throughout South Africa. It prefers open grasslands and savannahs, where it strides about searching for reptiles, small mammals and insects, which it bludgeons with its powerful legs.

The Secretarybird is featured on the South African national coat of arms. Photo credit: Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens.

The strange name of the Secretarybird was once thought to originate from the quills on its head bearing some resemblance to the quill pens used by an office secretary in times past. However, it is more likely that the name is a corruption of saqr-et-tair, the Arabic name for the bird, which translates as ‘hunter-bird’.

Birds of Kruger National Park
Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens

South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the largest and most iconic conservation areas in Africa. Habitats range from wide-open savannah and rugged thornveld to broadleaved mopani woodland. This microhabitat variation gives Kruger a phenomenal diversity of some 520 bird species, half of which are resident. From Africa’s most extraordinary eagles, like the scarlet-faced Bateleur, to electric-colored glossy-starlings and jewel-like finches, Kruger offers an avian celebration of form and color. It is also a crucial conservation area, supporting South Africa’s largest viable populations of vultures, eagles, and large terrestrial birds.

This field guide offers a unique window into the world of Kruger’s birds. More than 500 stunning color photographs illustrate the 259 most frequently encountered species, and a habitat-based approach assists in identification. The authoritative text provides key information about identification, habitat, behavior, biology, and conservation. The guide contains information likely to be new to even the most experienced birders, but is written in a nontechnical style that makes it accessible to anyone.

  • An essential guide to Kruger’s birds
  • Perfect for new and experienced birders alike
  • Small, portable format ideal for field use
  • Unique attractive layout with more than 500 stunning color photographs
  • Covers the 259 most frequently seen species
  • Uses a habitat-based approach to aid identification
  • Authoritative and accessible text provides key information about identification, behavior, biology, and conservation

 

Bird Fact Friday — The Male & Female Black Cuckooshrike

From page 117 of Birds of Kruger National Park:

The sexes of the Black Cuckooshrike are very different: the male is a dumpy, all-black bird with a yellow-orange base to the gape and a usually inconspicuous yellow shoulder mark; the female is a more distinctive grey-brown with bars below and bright yellow edges to the wing and tail feathers.

The male Black Cuckooshrike (left) could not be more different than the female Black Cuckooshrike (right). Photo credit: Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens.

This is an uncommon and unobtrusive resident of Kruger, its presence often revealed by a prolonged insect-like “trrrrrrrrr” trill. It may join flocks of other birds, but can also be solitary, searching the canopy for caterpillars and other arboreal prey.

Birds of Kruger National Park
Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens

South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the largest and most iconic conservation areas in Africa. Habitats range from wide-open savannah and rugged thornveld to broadleaved mopani woodland. This microhabitat variation gives Kruger a phenomenal diversity of some 520 bird species, half of which are resident. From Africa’s most extraordinary eagles, like the scarlet-faced Bateleur, to electric-colored glossy-starlings and jewel-like finches, Kruger offers an avian celebration of form and color. It is also a crucial conservation area, supporting South Africa’s largest viable populations of vultures, eagles, and large terrestrial birds.

This field guide offers a unique window into the world of Kruger’s birds. More than 500 stunning color photographs illustrate the 259 most frequently encountered species, and a habitat-based approach assists in identification. The authoritative text provides key information about identification, habitat, behavior, biology, and conservation. The guide contains information likely to be new to even the most experienced birders, but is written in a nontechnical style that makes it accessible to anyone.

  • An essential guide to Kruger’s birds
  • Perfect for new and experienced birders alike
  • Small, portable format ideal for field use
  • Unique attractive layout with more than 500 stunning color photographs
  • Covers the 259 most frequently seen species
  • Uses a habitat-based approach to aid identification
  • Authoritative and accessible text provides key information about identification, behavior, biology, and conservation

 

Bird Fact Friday – The Blue Waxbill

From page 156 of Birds of Kruger National Park:

Waxbills are small finches that are inconspicuous despite their bright coloration. The Blue Waxbill is readily identified by its entirely sky-blue underparts, rump and tail, silver-pink bill and grey-brown upperparts. The female is paler than the male, and juveniles are mostly grey-brown with a powder-blue wash to the face.

The Blue Waxbill (Uraeginthus angolensis) is a little more than 5 inches in length. Photo credit: Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens.

It is a common and widespread resident in a variety of habitats in Kruger, favouring drier woodlands close to permanent water where it regularly comes to drink, often dispersing during perods of drought. It feeds mainly on grass seeds but will also take insects, and frequently gives a loud and distinctive high-pitched “tsee-tsee” call, especially when flushed.

Birds of Kruger National Park
Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens

South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the largest and most iconic conservation areas in Africa. Habitats range from wide-open savannah and rugged thornveld to broadleaved mopani woodland. This microhabitat variation gives Kruger a phenomenal diversity of some 520 bird species, half of which are resident. From Africa’s most extraordinary eagles, like the scarlet-faced Bateleur, to electric-colored glossy-starlings and jewel-like finches, Kruger offers an avian celebration of form and color. It is also a crucial conservation area, supporting South Africa’s largest viable populations of vultures, eagles, and large terrestrial birds.

This field guide offers a unique window into the world of Kruger’s birds. More than 500 stunning color photographs illustrate the 259 most frequently encountered species, and a habitat-based approach assists in identification. The authoritative text provides key information about identification, habitat, behavior, biology, and conservation. The guide contains information likely to be new to even the most experienced birders, but is written in a nontechnical style that makes it accessible to anyone.

  • An essential guide to Kruger’s birds
  • Perfect for new and experienced birders alike
  • Small, portable format ideal for field use
  • Unique attractive layout with more than 500 stunning color photographs
  • Covers the 259 most frequently seen species
  • Uses a habitat-based approach to aid identification
  • Authoritative and accessible text provides key information about identification, behavior, biology, and conservation

Bird Fact Friday – Southern Carmine Bee-eater

From page 97 of Birds of Kruger National Park:

The Southern Carmine Bee-eater is a large, spectacular, long, slender, carmine-pink and teal-blue bee-eater with a long, pointed tail and black bill and facial mask. Immatures are duller than adults and lack long tail feathers. It is a common non-breeding summer migrant (December–April) to Kruger, where it can gather in large groups and often attends bush fires to feed on fleeing insects.

A mature Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides). (Photo credit: Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens)

The “trik-trik-trik” or “ga-gaga” calls, sound more guttural than those of European Bee-eater. Although not a common behaviour, Southern Carmine Bee-eaters have been recorded sitting on the backs of antelopes or Kori Bustards, swooping out and catching insects that are flushed. It specializes in catching large flying insects, including termites, cicadas, dragonflies, butterflies and locusts and regurgitates pellets of indigestible insect remains.

 

Birds of Kruger National Park
Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens

South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the largest and most iconic conservation areas in Africa. Habitats range from wide-open savannah and rugged thornveld to broadleaved mopani woodland. This microhabitat variation gives Kruger a phenomenal diversity of some 520 bird species, half of which are resident. From Africa’s most extraordinary eagles, like the scarlet-faced Bateleur, to electric-colored glossy-starlings and jewel-like finches, Kruger offers an avian celebration of form and color. It is also a crucial conservation area, supporting South Africa’s largest viable populations of vultures, eagles, and large terrestrial birds.

This field guide offers a unique window into the world of Kruger’s birds. More than 500 stunning color photographs illustrate the 259 most frequently encountered species, and a habitat-based approach assists in identification. The authoritative text provides key information about identification, habitat, behavior, biology, and conservation. The guide contains information likely to be new to even the most experienced birders, but is written in a nontechnical style that makes it accessible to anyone.

  • An essential guide to Kruger’s birds
  • Perfect for new and experienced birders alike
  • Small, portable format ideal for field use
  • Unique attractive layout with more than 500 stunning color photographs
  • Covers the 259 most frequently seen species
  • Uses a habitat-based approach to aid identification
  • Authoritative and accessible text provides key information about identification, behavior, biology, and conservation

 

Bird Fact Friday – The Wattled Jacana

From page 98 of Birds of Western Ecuador:

The Wattled Jacana is common in freshwater marshes, flooded rice paddies, ditches, and vegetated margins of lakes and sluggish rivers in the lowlands. The distinctive adult is not likely to be confused with any other species (W Ecuador birds have black scapular patches, not evident in this photo). Immature is extremely different from adult and has no similar species: it is all white below and has distinctive black-and-white head stripes.

The Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana).

The Wattled Jacana forages methodically, in singles, pairs, or scattered groups, over matted and floating vegetation, where it is generally easy to see. Flight is slow, usually low to ground, with rather stiff wingbeats, legs and long toes protruding way beyond tail; when alighting, wings are often held outstretched, showing off yellow primaries. They can be quite noisy, emitting a series of loud yapping and yelping, cackling notes and churring sounds.

Birds of Western Ecuador
By Nick Athanas & Paul J. Greenfield
With special contributions from Iain Campbell, Pablo Cervantes Daza, Andrew Spencer & Sam Woods

Western Ecuador is famed for its astonishingly diverse birdlife, from colorful hummingbirds and outrageous toucans to more difficult groups like raptors, flycatchers, and ovenbirds. Here is the ultimate photographic guide to the spectacular birds of this region. Featuring nearly 1,500 stunning color photos of 946 species, this richly detailed and taxonomically sophisticated field guide will help you with even the toughest identification challenges. Species accounts, photos, and color distribution maps appear side by side, making it easier than ever to find what you are looking for, whether you are in the field or preparing for your trip.

  • Features nearly 1,500 photos of 946 species
  • Includes facing-page species accounts, photos, and maps
  • Provides photos of multiple plumages for many species
  • Helps you to differentiate between similar species