Got someone on your gift list who would love a book about wildlife or nature? There are some really wonderfully written books out this year that would fit the bill. Here are a few of our favorites. Check them out – maybe one is perfect for you as well?
Becoming Wild – Carl Safina takes us deep into Earth’s remaining wild places and brings the culture and lives of three amazing creatures to life through stories from his personal observation. Safina shows how if you’re a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too experience your life with the understanding that you are an individual within a particular community. Becoming Wild brings readers close to the lives of non-human animals to show how other creatures teach and learn. Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is happening outside of our own human lives — the challenges, complexities, culture, differences, and ultimately our many similarities. A wonderful opportunity to get a more intimate understanding of these three extraordinary animals.
The Bird Way – Science writer Jennifer Ackerman continues her exploration of the private lives of birds in her new publication in which she covers the gamut of fascinating details about the intelligence, creativity, abilities and often seemingly quirkyehaviors of birds around the world. Fly from species to species and see how the extraordinary ways birds conduct their lives. Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay, Jennifer Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It is what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.
Vesper Fights – Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best-loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep. Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife. By one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us.
Spying on Whales – Nick Pyenson – Whales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species to have ever lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-sized creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live 200 years, and travel entire ocean basins. Whales fill us with terror, awe, and affection–yet there is still so much we don’t know about them. Why did it take whales over 50 million years to evolve to such big sizes, and how do they eat enough to stay that big? How did their ancestors return from land to the sea–and what can their lives tell us about evolution as a whole? Importantly, in the sweepstakes of human-driven habitat and climate change, will whales survive? Pyenson takes us deep inside the Smithsonian’s unparalleled fossil collections, to frigid Antarctic waters, and to the arid desert in Chile, where scientists race against time to document the largest fossil whale site ever found. Full of rich storytelling and scientific discovery, Spying on Whales spans the ancient past to an uncertain future–all to better understand the most enigmatic creatures on Earth.
What It’s Like To Be a Bird – Leave it to David Sibley, the well-known author and artist for the Sibley Field Guides, to write and illustrate a book with numerous gems of information about bird behavior, and the amazing things that birds do. “Can birds smell?” “Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?” “Do robins ‘hear’ worms?” In What It’s Like to Be a Bird, David Sibley answers the most frequently asked questions about the birds we see most often. This special, large-format volume is geared as much to nonbirders as it is to the out-and-out obsessed, covering more than two hundred species and including more than 330 new illustrations by the author. And while the text is aimed at adults–including fascinating new scientific research on the myriad ways birds have adapted to environmental changes–it is nontechnical, making it the perfect occasion for parents and grandparents to share their love of birds with young children, who will delight in the big, full-color illustrations of birds in action.