Alternatives To Amazon For Buying Books

Every time I listen to or read an interview with an author who has recently published a book, and want to get a closer look at the book itself, I click the link provided. Nearly 100% of the time the link goes to Amazon. Not good. When I listened to an interview with Elizabeth Kolbert on a podcast I respect, that is what happened. Frustrated by that link, I looked for alternatives to Amazon for buying this book, and found plenty.  For example, thanks to Powell’s Books for making the discussion about this book available in the online event above.

One option is Bookshop.org, which came to my attention while trying to find an interview with Kolbert about her new book that did not link to Amazon.  It took some effort, after finding the Powell’s links, but thankfully I found an interview given a couple days ago to Audubon for their review of Kolbert’s book. None of our many earlier links to Kolbert stories have featured an image of the author, so I will share here the one that accompanies the Audubon piece. In the middle of the interview there is this exchange:

Elizabeth Kolbert at the ​American Museum of Natural His​tory in New York. Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/Th​e New York Times/ReduxI have seen plenty of images of her, but this may be the only one in which she is smiling.

A: We’re, of course, doing this interview for Audubon, which focuses a lot on species conservation. Much of the work that people do to save various species—and there are so many examples of this in your book—involves altering previous ways that we’ve altered the natural world. How do you suggest that people who care about species protection think about efforts like these?

K: Well, that’s a really profound question, and to be honest that is the question at the center of the book. One of the points is, what do we think of as conservation, right? Continue reading

2020 Audubon Photo Contest

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An Anna’s hummingbird, Amateur Honorable Mention, photographed on the Ardenwood Historic Farm in California #
Bibek Ghosh / 2020 Audubon Photography Awards

Alan Taylor has been a go-to visual explainer on our platform for years. He also led us to this contest in 2016. By the time of the 2019 contest we were linking directly from the source but here we give him credit for reminding us it is that time of the year again:

The winners of the the 11th annual Audubon Photography Awards competition were recently announced. Photographers entered images in four categories: professional, amateur, youth, and plants for birds. More than 6,000 images depicting birdlife from all 50 states and seven Canadian provinces and territories were judged. The National Audubon Society was again kind enough to share some of this year’s winners and runners-up with us below. You can also see all of the top 100 entries on the Audubon website.

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The 2020 Audubon Photography Awards: Winners

This year’s top shots delight with dazzling colors and fresh perspectives.

Every spring, the judges of the Audubon Photography Awards gather at Audubon’s headquarters in Manhattan to review their favorite images and select the finalists. But as with much of life in 2020, this year’s awards had to be handled differently due to pandemic-related travel, work, and social-distancing restrictions. Continue reading

A Comparison of Audubon and Merlin Bird

Merlin Bird and Audubon Bird Guide are both amazing resources and are well maintained and updated. They are both free and have a lot of the same features. At first, these apps might seem very similar. However, there are some big differences. I’ll start off with Merlin Bird. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s birding app has a couple of standout features. The app has a much cleaner interface with a simpler bird ID feature. You’ll answer five basic questions and it gives you a list of possible birds. It is very easy to use and is perfect for novices that do not have a lot prior knowledge about birds.

Another point for Merlin Bird is the variety of regions covered from all over the globe. They also let you download these regions individually, so you don’t have to fill up your device with information you don’t need. Merlin bird has a unique feature that allows you to take a photo of a bird and it will attempt to identify it. While it isn’t always accurate (or easy to get a good photo of a bird!) I am impressed by how often it gets it right. Even with photos I’ve taken at a distance the app has managed to identity the bird correctly.

Another nice feature is that the app integrates with Cornell’s other app, eBird. If you have a bird in eBird that you’ve identified it will display that in the Merlin app. It also has a nice ability that shows you a list of birds based on how likely it is that you’ll see them in your area.

Continue reading

Five Years Of Protection From Drilling

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Melting sea ice in the Chukchi Sea, one of the areas included in the ban. Photo: Esther Horvath

Thanks to Audubon Magazine for their coverage of this news:

U.S. Offshore Drilling Banned Along Arctic and Atlantic Coasts for Next Five Years

A new federal leasing plan released today outlines where energy companies can look for oil while protecting vital bird habitat.

by Martha Harbison

After months of deliberations, the Bureau of Ocean Management announced its final five-year plan for offshore energy-exploration leases today. In that plan, no drilling leases would be available in U.S.-held Arctic and Atlantic waters from 2017 to 2022, meaning that no new drilling could happen in those areas until at least 2022.  Continue reading

Adorable, Luminous, and Rare

The rare patch of black feathers is evidence that the bird is leucistic, not albino. Photo: Brad R. Lewis

Hummingbirds are frequent visitors to this site, including the Anna’s hummingbird. All hummingbirds are known as tiny winged gems flitting from flower to flower or feeder to feeder, so the individual pictured above is especially startling. The term “leucistic” is new to us, and we thank Audubon.org for bringing this to our attention.

Rare White Hummingbird Steals the Spotlight at California Garden

In the Australian Gardens at the University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum, a dozen Anna’s Hummingbirds dart between golden banksia flowers and various pink and white blooming shrubs. Their feathers are bright, iridescent shades of emerald, pink and gray. The grove is awash with color.

Except for one strange bird that’s sitting in a cypress tree, watching the flurry of feeding and fluttering. It’s an Anna’s Hummingbird—and it’s almost entirely white. Continue reading