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Books

Field Guides


The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century Lowest new price: $16.99
Lowest used price: $13.50
List price: $27.00
Author: Kirk Wallace Johnson

“Absorbing . . . Though it's non-fiction, The Feather Thief contains many of the elements of a classic thriller.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever.” —Christian Science Monitor

A rollicking true-crime adventure and a captivating journey into an underground world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, for readers of The Stranger in the WoodsThe Lost City of Z, and The Orchid Thief.

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins—some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin's, Alfred Russel Wallace, who'd risked everything to gather them—and escaped into the darkness.

Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man's destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.

An Amazon Best Book of May 2018: The title of The Feather Thief smartly echoes Susan Orleans' The Orchid Thief, and The Feather Thief has good reason to compare itself to such an admired book. Strange niches of history. Obsessives who refuse to adhere to the law. A writer who stumbles upon a story that becomes an obsession in its own right. All these elements combust to create Johnson's investigation into the theft of 299 rare bird skins from a British natural history museum. While bird skins might sound like (ahem) dry reading, Johnson knows just how to fascinate the reader, plunging with vigor into exotic bird exploration, the crackdown on rare bird trafficking, and the insular world of fly-tying enthusiasts, all of which lead, almost inevitably, to the theft from the Tring Museum. The most likely receivers of the stolen goods? Fly-tiers with an unquenchable thirst for feathers from blue chatterers, the resplendent quetzal, and birds of paradise so they can re-create outlandish Victorian-era salmon flies. Although the thief is caught, Johnson decides to investigate himself what happened to the 106 never-recovered bird skins, pulling the reader even deeper into the thief's bizarre world. Clever, informative, and sometimes endearingly bumbling, this mix of natural history and crime opens up new worlds. You'll never look at a stuffed bird the same way again. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review

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National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic Backyard Guides)

National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic Backyard Guides) Lowest new price: $10.83
Lowest used price: $12.04
List price: $18.95
Author: Jonathan Alderfer
Brand: Louise Zemaitis

Essential for the millions of Americans who watch and feed birds in their backyards—whether experienced birders or new birding enthusiasts—from the experts at National Geographic and co-author of the popular and perennial best seller Field Guide to the Birds of North America.
 
No matter where you live—in the country, city, a high-rise or house—this handy guide will quench your curiosity about the feathered creatures in your midst. It features 150 of the most common and interesting birds likely to be observed at backyard feeders, nesting nearby or just migrating through. An indispensable visual index of all 150 species appears on the inside front and back laminated covers, making identification a snap.
 
Beginning with Backyard Basics, an easy-to-follow, richly illustrated presentation on observing and identifying birds—with tips on attracting and feeding your favorite birds, birdhouses, and bird-friendly landscapes to entice nesting—the book is full of National Geographic’s iconic field guide images and maps.
 
Core species on everyone’s list—such as robins, woodpeckers, bluebirds and chickadees—are featured in two-page spreads including practical tips with additional imagery. Sidebars captivate with interesting and little known facts.

Features:

  • National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America

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National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region, Revised Edition

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region, Revised Edition Lowest new price: $12.50
Lowest used price: $3.56
List price: $22.95
Brand: Random House

The bestselling photographic field guide--a birding bible for more than four million enthusiasts.

Virtually every bird found in eastern North America is brought to life in this portable guide, an essential companion in the field and a staple in any birdwatcher's library. It features a durable vinyl binding and brilliant full-color photographic identification pictures arranged for quick access and definitive text, including information on the bird's voice, nesting habits, habitat, range, and interesting behaviors. Accompanying range maps; overhead flight silhouettes; sections on bird-watching, accidental species, and endangered birds make the National Audubon Society's Field Guide to North American Birds the most comprehensive available.

Note: the Eastern Edition generally covers states east of the Rocky Mountains, while the Western Edition covers the Rocky Mountain range and all the states to the west of it.

Covering 508 bird species found east of the Rocky Mountains, the revised second edition takes into account changes in taxonomy and uses improved photography. At the heart of the guide is a set of 646 well-made color photographs whose subjects are organized by easily discerned characteristics (e.g., "chicken-like marsh birds," such as the clapper rail; "gull-like birds," such as the kittiwake; and "upright-perching water birds," such as the common murre). The photographs are then keyed to textual descriptions of the birds' appearance, range and habitat, nesting characteristics, and behavior. Easy to use and handsomely produced, this belongs in every eastern birdwatcher's collection. --Gregory McNamee

Features:

  • Author: National Audubon Society
  • ISBN: 9780679428527

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Mozart's Starling

Mozart's Starling Lowest new price: $11.04
Lowest used price: $10.99
List price: $16.99
Author: Lyanda Lynn Haupt

On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling in a Viennese shop who sang an improvised version of the theme from his Piano Concerto no. 17 in G major. Sensing a kindred spirit in the plucky young bird, Mozart bought him and took him home to be a family pet. For three years, the starling lived with Mozart, influencing his work and serving as his companion, distraction, consolation, and muse.

Two centuries later, starlings are reviled by even the most compassionate conservationists. A nonnative, invasive species, they invade sensitive habitats, outcompete local birds for nest sites and food, and decimate crops. A seasoned birder and naturalist, Lyanda Lynn Haupt is well versed in the difficult and often strained relationships these birds have with other species and the environment. But after rescuing a baby starling of her own, Haupt found herself enchanted by the same intelligence and playful spirit that had so charmed her favorite composer.

In Mozart's Starling, Haupt explores the unlikely and remarkable bond between one of history's most cherished composers and one of earth's most common birds. The intertwined stories of Mozart's beloved pet and Haupt's own starling provide an unexpected window into human-animal friendships, music, the secret world of starlings, and the nature of creative inspiration. A blend of natural history, biography, and memoir, Mozart's Starling is a tour de force that awakens a surprising new awareness of our place in the world.

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National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man's Quest to Document the World's Animals

National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man's Quest to Document the World's Animals Lowest new price: $14.00
Lowest used price: $13.98
List price: $35.00
Author: Joel Sartore
Brand: National Geographic

The lush and unique photography in this book represents National Geographic's Photo Ark, a major initiative and lifelong project by photographer Joel Sartore to make portraits of the world's animals—especially those that are endangered. His powerful message, conveyed with humor, compassion, and art: to know these animals is to save them.

Sartore is circling the globe, visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species, with an emphasis on those facing extinction. Wiht a goal of photographing every animal in captivity in the world, he has photographed more than 6,000 already and now, thanks to a multi-year partnership with National Geographic, he may reach his goal. This book showcases his animal portraits: from tiny to mammoth, from the Florida grasshopper sparrow to the greater one-horned rhinoceros. Paired with the eloquent prose of veteran wildlife writer Douglas Chadwick, and an inspiring foreword from Harrison Ford, this book presents a thought-provoking argument for saving all the species of our planet.

Features:

  • National Geographic

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The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife

The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife Lowest new price: $18.00
Lowest used price: $14.86
List price: $28.00
Author: Lucy Cooke

Mary Roach meets Bill Bryson in this "surefire summer winner" (Janet Maslin, New York Times), an uproarious tour of the basest instincts and biggest mysteries of the animal world

Humans have gone to the Moon and discovered the Higgs boson, but when it comes to understanding animals, we've still got a long way to go. Whether we're seeing a viral video of romping baby pandas or a picture of penguins "holding hands," it's hard for us not to project our own values--innocence, fidelity, temperance, hard work--onto animals. So you've probably never considered if moose get drunk, penguins cheat on their mates, or worker ants lay about. They do--and that's just for starters. In The Truth About Animals, Lucy Cooke takes us on a worldwide journey to meet everyone from a Colombian hippo castrator to a Chinese panda porn peddler, all to lay bare the secret--and often hilarious--habits of the animal kingdom. Charming and at times downright weird, this modern bestiary is perfect for anyone who has ever suspected that virtue might be unnatural.

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Paint by Sticker: Birds: Create 12 Stunning Images One Sticker at a Time!

Paint by Sticker: Birds: Create 12 Stunning Images One Sticker at a Time! Lowest new price: $8.00
Lowest used price: $4.33
List price: $14.95
Author: Workman Publishing
Brand: Workman Publishing

Paint by Sticker is the most exciting new idea in activity books, both for grown-ups and kids. A compelling activity for crafters and artists, doodlers and colorers of all ages, each Paint by Sticker book includes everything you need to create twelve vibrant, full-color “paintings.” The original images are rendered in low-poly, a computer graphics style using geometric polygon shapes to create a 3D effect. As in paint-by-number, each template is divided into dozens of spaces, each with a number that corresponds to a particular sticker. Find the sticker, peel it, and place it in the right space. Add the next, and the next, and the next—it’s an activity that’s utterly absorbing, both in the pleasure of peeling and sticking and the growing satisfaction of watching a “painting” come to life, emerging from a flat black-and-white illustration to a dazzling image with color, body, and spirit.

Paint by Sticker: Birds celebrates the rainbow of colors and shapes of the avian world: a red-headed woodpecker, a blue jay, an orange and black Baltimore oriole, an electric bright hummingbird.

 

Features:

  • WORKMAN

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The California Field Atlas

The California Field Atlas Lowest new price: $29.02
Lowest used price: $18.95
List price: $45.00
Author: Obi Kaufmann

Winner, California Book Award Gold Medal (Notable Contribution to Publishing)

Winner, NCIBA Book of the Year Award (Regional Interest)

#1 San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller
#10 SCIBA Best Seller

This lavishly illustrated atlas takes readers off the beaten path and outside normal conceptions of California, revealing its myriad ecologies, topographies, and histories in exquisite maps and trail paintings. Based on decades of exploring the backcountry of the Golden State, artist-adventurer Obi Kaufmann blends science and art to illuminate the multifaceted array of living, connected systems like no book has done before. Kaufmann depicts layer after layer of the natural world, delighting in the grand scale and details alike. The effect is staggeringly beautiful: presented alongside California divvied into its fifty-eight counties, for example, we consider California made up of dancing tectonic plates, of watersheds, of wildflower gardens. Maps are enhanced by spirited illustrations of wildlife, keys that explain natural phenomena, and a clear-sighted but reverential text. Full of character and color, a bit larger than life, The California Field Atlas is the ultimate road trip companion and love letter to a place.

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The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition

The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition Lowest new price: $18.78
Lowest used price: $13.93
List price: $40.00
Author: David Allen Sibley
Brand: Random House

“Undoubtedly the finest guide to North American birds.”—Guy McCaskie, Birding

The publication of The Sibley Guide to Birds, First Edition quickly established David Allen Sibley as the author and illustrator of the nation’s supreme and most comprehensive guide to birds. Used by millions of birders from novices to the most expert, The Sibley Guide became the standard by which natural history guides are measured. The highly anticipated second edition builds on this foundation of excellence, offering massively expanded and updated information, new paintings, new and rare species, and a new, elegant design.

The second edition of this handsome, flexibound volume offers a wealth of improvements and updates:

• All illustrations reproduced 15 to 20 percent larger for better detail.
 
• Includes nearly 7,000 paintings digitally remastered from original art for enhanced print quality.
 
• Expanded text includes habitat information and voice description for every species and more tips on finding birds in the field.
 
• More than 600 new paintings, including illustrations of 115 rare species and additional paintings of common species and regional populations.
 
• More than 700 updated maps of ranges, showing winter, summer, year-round, migration, and rare ranges.
 
• 85 bird family pages now cross-referenced to species accounts.

• Revised taxonomic order and most current common names for every species.
The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition, brings the genius of David Allen Sibley to the world once again in a thoroughly updated and expanded volume that every birder must own.

Features:

  • Sibley Guide To Birds, 2nd Ed

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Birds of the Photo Ark

Birds of the Photo Ark Lowest new price: $17.03
Lowest used price: $16.12
List price: $30.00
Author: Noah Strycker

For avian enthusiasts, from armchair observers to dedicated life-listers, this brilliant book from acclaimed National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore celebrates the beauty of all birds, great and small.

This elegantly packaged celebration of birds from around the world unites incredible animal portraits from Joel Sartore's distinguished National Geographic Photo Ark project with inspiring text by up-and-coming birder Noah Strycker. It includes hundreds of species, from tiny finches to charismatic eagles; brilliant toucans, intricate birds of paradise, and perennial favorites such as parrots, hummingbirds, and owls also make colorful appearances. Everyone who cares about birds--from the family with a bird feeder outside the kitchen window to the serious birder with a life list of thousands--will flock to this distinctive and uplifting book.

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