Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Photo Quiz (& Answer)

Forgive the deviation from the typical birdbook format; but, I wanted to share the below photos of a rather unique bird I encountered today (22 June 2011).  This bird was photographed at Oak Flats Campground (N33.307500  W111.050830  Elevation 3913 feet) in Pinal County, Arizona, USA.

Needless to say, this is a leucistic form of a bird that typically breeds in the area.  This particular individual fledged here earlier this summer.  It was also interesting to note this morning an adult plumaged male of this species which was showing notable leucism on the chest, throat, and crown.  I presume this individual was the contributing father.

I will post the answer on July 2nd (see below).

And, the answer is a...Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus). This is one of two leucistic birds that fledged in the area. To see photos of a different all white individual at another location in Arizona in 2009, take a look at this link...HERE.

11 Photos of Quiz Bird

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Field Guide to Tristan da Cunha

Hidden Gem
Field Guide to the Animals and Plants of Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island
by  Ryan, Peter
2007, 162pp, ISBN: 1874357331
Rating:  1  2  3  4  5

Basics:  softcover, 430 color photos of birds, mammals, plants, insects, and marine life;  descriptions and natural history

This book easily fulfills a wish I've had for many years which to see a field guide to these very remote islands in the southern Atlantic. Besides the islands noted in the book's title, it also covers the nearby Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands. This book has three strengths: Quality color photographs, brief but thorough text on the species, and a well-rounded assortment of fauna types.

The fauna types are broken into 6 sections, all with color photos.  These sections are the following: Island Setting (30 photos), Plants (159), Birds (107), Mammals (26), Terrestrial Invertebrates (21), and Marine Life (86).

All bird and mammal species found on or around the islands are shown with very good photographs. Of course, this includes the seven (some say only six) endemic birds. For the endemic birds, these are by far the best collection of photos I've seen. Additionally, this is only one of three books I know of to show photos of all the endemic birds (see Shirihai's and Sinclair's books).

The photos are equally good for the insects, especially the flightless moths. Terrestrial plants and marine life have a great variety with clear, colorful, and large photos.

Text for each bird is typically one paragraph in length.  As one would hope,
the endemic species receive extended accounts.  The material provides a nice description that addresses plumage variations between genders and the few races that may be present.  Additional material is give for "Behavior" which consists of migration times, nesting, breeding habits, diet, and some descriptions of vocalizations.  A few more sentences cover distribution, population, and conservation.  Similar but often more brief material is given for the birds, mammals, and fish.

I especially appreciate the three pages that discuss tourism to the island and the logistics of getting to the islands and staying there. In short, anyone wishing to visit Tristan da Cunha must set aside a minimum of 5 weeks due to travel requirements and to ship availability.

This is a great book on Tristan da Cunha and will certainly be enjoyed by anyone who's wanted to learn about these little known islands.

I’ve listed several related books below…
1) Origin of the Land Birds of Tristan da Cunha by Rand
2) The Complete Guide to the Antarctic Wildlife by Shirihai
3) A Guide to the Birds of St. Helena and Ascension Island by McCulloch
4) Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World by Onley
5) Identification of Seabirds of the Southern Ocean by Onley
6) Seabirds: An Identification Guide by Harrison

7) Seabirds of the Tropical Atlantic Ocean by Watson
8) Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair (ISBN 0869774352)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Os Beija-flores do Brasil

Welcome to the first segment of books I'm introducing as "Lesser Known Gems".  These are books I've deemed to be noteworthy but may be somewhat obscure or unfamiliar.  These are hidden gems that will be appreciated by the bird book aficionado.

Os Beija-flores do Brasil
by Grantsau, Rolf
1988, 233pp, ISBN: 8520801005
Basics:  hardcover; large format (11x8 inches) contains 37 good color plates of 85 species found in Brazil; 229 large illustrations show male and female as well as various subspecies; 89 b&w line illustrations show nests and young along with detailed diagrams of wings, tail, feathers, or head to compare similar species; 18 b&w photographs show habitat types and some species; text focuses primarily on giving concise descriptions of each species as well as the genders and subspecies; identification keys to all species and subspecies are provided for each genus; 14 full-page maps with outlines of provinces and major rivers show locations of sightings for all species; 5-7 species are included per map; all text is in only Portuguese