To celebrate the advent of Spring and also annual World Wildlife Day, we have a nature books round-up featuring some of our most intriguing new books about all things wild and wonderful! These books cover topics ranging from the history of the hawthorn tree to the habitation of bird species in our modern, suburban communities. Although each is brimming with scientific information, these attractive books also explore the vital connections between the natural world and humanity.
THE HOUSE OF OWLS by Tony Angell
For a quarter of a century, Tony Angell and his family shared the remarkable experience of closely observing pairs of western screech owls that occupied a nesting box outside the window of their forest home. The journals in which the author recorded his observations, and the captivating drawings he created, form the heart of this compelling book – a personal account of an artist-naturalist’s life with owls. Angell’s extensive illustrations show owls engaged in what owls do-hunting, courting, raising families – and reveal his immeasurable respect for their secret lives and daunting challenges.
One of humankind’s oldest companions, the hawthorn tree, is bound up in the memories of every recorded age and the plot lines of cultures all across the Northern Hemisphere. Used for thousands of years in the impenetrable living fences that defined the landscapes of Europe, the hawthorn eventually helped feed the class antagonism that led to widespread social upheaval. In the American Midwest, hawthorn-inspired hedges on the prairies made nineteenth-century farming economically rewarding for the first time. Later, in Normandy, mazelike hedgerows bristling with these thorns nearly cost the Allies World War II. Author Bill Vaughn examines the little-recognised political, cultural and natural history of this ancient spiky plant and shines light on the full scope of the tree’s influence over human events and abundant connections with humanity.
DRAGONFLIES: MAGNIFICENT CREATURES OF WATER, AIR, AND LAND by Pieter Van Dokkum
Almost without our noticing, dragonflies dart through our world, flying, seeing, hunting, mating. Their lives are as mysterious as their gossamer wings are beautiful. In this book, Pieter van Dokkum reveals many of the dragonfly’s secrets, capturing the stages of this striking insect’s life cycle in unprecedented close-up photographs. He documents scenes of dragonfly activity seldom witnessed and rarely photographed. Each stage of a dragonfly’s development is documented through van Dokkum’s inquisitive lens and accompanied by information on various species of dragonflies and damselflies, their metamorphosis and their ecological importance as insect predators.
THE NARROW EDGE: A TINY BIRD, AN ANCIENT CRAB, AND AN EPIC JOURNEY by Deborah Cramer
Thousands of ravenous tiny shorebirds race along the water’s edge of Delaware Bay, feasting on pin-sized horseshoe-crab eggs. Fuelled by millions of eggs, the migrating red knots fly on. When they arrive at last in their arctic breeding grounds, they will have completed a near-miraculous 9,000-mile journey that began in Tierra del Fuego. Deborah Cramer followed these knots, whose numbers have declined by 75 percent, on their extraordinary odyssey from one end of the earth to the other – from an isolated beach at the tip of South America all the way to the icy tundra. Cramer offers unique insight into how, on an increasingly fragile and congested shore, the lives of red knots, horseshoe crabs and humans are intertwined. She eloquently portrays the tenacity of small birds and the courage of many people who, bird by bird and beach by beach, keep red knots flying.
WELCOME TO SUBIRDIA: SHARING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS WITH WRENS, ROBINS, WOODPECKERS, AND OTHER WILDLIFE by John M. Marzluff & Jack DeLap
Welcome to Subirdia presents a surprising discovery: the suburbs of many large cities support incredible biological diversity. Populations and communities of a great variety of birds, as well as other creatures, are adapting to the conditions of our increasingly developed world. In this fascinating and optimistic book, John Marzluff reveals how our own actions affect the birds and animals that live in our cities and towns, and he provides ten specific strategies everyone can use to make human environments friendlier for our natural neighbours. By practicing careful stewardship with the biological riches in our cities and towns, Marzluff explains, we can foster a new relationship between humans and other living creatures – one that honours and enhances our mutual destiny.
BACK TO THE GARDEN: NATURE AND THE MEDITERRANEAN WORLD FROM PREHISTORY TO THE PRESENT by James H. S. McGregor
The garden was the cultural foundation of the early Mediterranean peoples; they acknowledged their reliance on and kinship to the land, and they understood nature through the lens of their diversely cultivated landscape. Their image of the garden underwrote the biblical book of Genesis and the region’s three major religions. In this important melding of cultural and ecological histories, James McGregor suggests that the environmental crisis the world faces today is a result of Western society’s abandonment of the ‘First Nature’ principle – of the harmonious interrelationship of human communities and the natural world. McGregor’s essential work offers a new understanding of environmental accountability while proposing that recovering the original vision of ourselves, not as antagonists of nature but as cultivators of a biological world to which we innately belong, is possible through proven techniques of the past.
PROJECT PUFFIN: THE IMPROBABLE QUEST TO BRING A BELOVED SEABIRD BACK TO EGG ROCK by Stephen W. Kress & Derrick Z. Jackson
Project Puffin is the inspiring story of how a beloved seabird was restored to long-abandoned nesting colonies off the Maine coast. As a young ornithology instructor at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, Dr. Stephen Kress learned that puffins had nested on nearby islands until extirpated by hunters in the late 1800s. To right this environmental wrong, he resolved to bring puffins back to one such island: Eastern Egg Rock. Yet bringing the plan to reality meant convincing sceptics, finding resources, and inventing restoration methods at a time when many believed in ‘letting nature take its course’. The success of Dr. Kress’s project offers hope that people can restore lost wildlife populations and the habitats that support them.