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The Book of Leaves: A Leaf-By-Leaf Guide to Six Hundred of the World's Great Treesby Allen Coombes
Synopses & Reviews
From the brilliantly green and glossy eggs of the Elegant Crested Tinamouand#151;said to be among the most beautiful in the worldand#151;to the small brown eggs of the house sparrow that makes its nest in a lamppost and the uniformly brown or white chickensand#8217; eggs found by the dozen in any corner grocery, birdsand#8217; eggs have inspired countless biologists, ecologists, and ornithologists, as well as artists, from John James Audubon to the contemporary photographer Rosamond Purcell. For scientists, these vibrant vessels are the source of an array of interesting topics, from the factors responsible for egg coloration to the curious practice of and#147;brood parasitism,and#8221; in which the eggs of cuckoos mimic those of other bird species in order to be cunningly concealed among the clutches of unsuspecting foster parents.
The Book of Eggs introduces readers to eggs from six hundred speciesand#151;some endangered or extinctand#151;from around the world and housed mostly at Chicagoand#8217;s Field Museum of Natural History. Organized by habitat and taxonomy, the entries include newly commissioned photographs that reproduce each egg in full color and at actual size, as well as distribution maps and drawings and descriptions of the birds and their nests where the eggs are kept warm. Birdsand#8217; eggs are some of the most colorful and variable natural products in the wild, and each entry is also accompanied by a brief description that includes evolutionary explanations for the wide variety of colors and patterns, from camouflage designed to protect against predation, to thermoregulatory adaptations, to adjustments for the circumstances of a particular habitat or season. Throughout the book are fascinating facts to pique the curiosity of binocular-toting birdwatchers and budding amateurs alike. Female mallards, for instance, invest more energy to produce larger eggs when faced with the genetic windfall of an attractive mate. Some seabirds, like the cliff-dwelling guillemot, have adapted to produce long, pointed eggs, whose uneven weight distribution prevents them from rolling off rocky ledges into the sea.
A visually stunning and scientifically engaging guide to six hundred of the most intriguing eggs, from the pea-sized progeny of the smallest of hummingbirds to the eggs of the largest living bird, the ostrich, which can weigh up to five pounds, The Book of Eggs offers readers a rare, up-close look at these remarkable forms of animal life.
A lavishly illustrated volume, "The Book of Leaves" offers a visually stunning and scientifically engaging guide to 600 of the most impressive and beautiful leaves from around the world, each reproduced at its actual size, in full color, and accompanied by an explanation of the range, distribution, abundance, and habitat of the tree on which it's found.
andldquo;We must be careful what we say. No bird resumes its egg.andrdquo; andmdash;Emily Dickinson
And what a shame, as while birds are stunning in their plumage, the variety and beauty of the vessels from which they hatch are beguiling. The egg has been called natureandrsquo;s perfect container. And the variation on a theme is spectacularandmdash;from the bold purple red hue of a Tinamou egg to the roughly surfaced greenish-blue Emu egg. Incubation varies as much as colorandmdash;from days to monthsandmdash;as does the clutch size. All of these different egg types reflect ecological and evolutionary dynamics.
The Book of Eggs introduces readers to the eggs of 600 bird species. Bird eggs have inspired artists like Rosamond Purcell, and countless birders have considered them quarry. For scientists, these brilliant vessels lead to an array of interesting topics, from the patterns of egg coloration to how birds and their parasites recognize eggs. Particularly appealing is this bookandrsquo;s use of The Field Museumandrsquo;s bird egg and nest collection.
After an introductory section, the work is organized taxonomically. Each entry, which focuses largely on North American birds, includes life-size photos, distribution maps, and drawings of the birds from which the eggs emerge. The text discusses bird behavior and the egg traits, inclusive of some evolutionary explanations for the variance of form. This is the first time the Fieldandrsquo;s egg collection has been photographed, and it is world renowned for its content. The book will also include portrayals and descriptions of the clutches, which can be a helpful tool in identifying species for birders.
Of all our childhood memories, few are quite as thrilling, or as tactile, as those of climbing trees. Scampering up the rough trunk, spying on the world from the cool green shelter of the canopy, lying on a limb and looking up through the leaves at the summer sun almost made it seem as if we were made for trees, and trees for us.Even in adulthood, trees retain their power, from the refreshing way their waves of green break the monotony of a cityscape to the way their autumn transformations take our breath away.
In this lavishly illustrated volume, the trees that have enriched our lives finally get their full due, through a focus on the humble leaves that serve, in a sense, as their public face. The Book of Leaves offers a visually stunning and scientifically engaging guide to six hundred of the most impressive and beautiful leaves from around the world. Each leaf is reproduced here at its actual size, in full color, and is accompanied by an explanation of the range, distribution, abundance, and habitat of the tree on which its found. Brief scientific and historical accounts of each tree and related species include fun-filled facts and anecdotes that broaden its portrait.
The Henrys Maple, for instance, found in China and named for an Irish doctor who collected leaves there, bears little initial resemblance to the statuesque maples of North America, from its diminutive stature to its unusual trifoliolate leaves. Or the Mediterranean Olive, which has been known to live for more than 1,500 years and whose short, narrow leaves only fall after two or three years, pushed out in stages by the emergence of younger leaves.
From the familiar friends of our backyards to the giants of deep woods, The Book of Leaves brings the forest to life—and to our living rooms—as never before.
About the Author
Allen J. Coombes is botanist at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum in Hampshire, England, and the author of many books about plants and trees. Zsolt Debreczy, is research Director of the International Dendrological Research Institute in Boston.
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