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Birds of the Great Basin: a natural history by Fred A. Ryser

By Fred A. Ryser

Birds have regularly been of prepared curiosity to guy, when you consider that their good looks, music and engaging behaviour are conspicuously displayed and will be considered and heard by way of even the main informal observer. This publication, the results of over thirty years of analysis, is the main complete ever released at the varied chicken lifetime of the nice Basin.

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Extra resources for Birds of the Great Basin: a natural history

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Waterfowl 121 9. Shoreline Birds 171 10. Diurnal Birds of Prey 211 11. Nocturnal Birds of Prey 257 12. Upland Game Birds 275 13. Cuckoos 297 14. Hibernators 301 15. Woodpeckers 321 16. Perching Birds 335 Page xii Appendix: Birding in the Great Basin 547 Literature Cited 555 Index 585 Page xiii Acknowledgments Authorship is not a solitary endeavor, and many people have contributed, in one way or another, to the genesis of this book. During my thirty years of studying natural history in the Great Basin, my two most constant field companions were Hugh Mozingo, a peripatetic botanist, and Peter Herlan, the late curator of natural history at the Nevada State Museum.

Many of the springs are geothermal ones, and their waters are heavily charged with minerals. Page 13 The low places in the valleys, being undrained basins, have extremely salty or alkaline soils. The playas and alkali and salt flats support little or no vegetation. Salt-tolerant plants may be present around the edges of playas and salt flats, but they will add to the salt burden of animals using them. These places provide little in the way of fresh water, food, shade, or cover for birds. But some birds, such as the tiny Snowy Plover, nest on the harshest of alkali flats.

Their key to survival in the Great Basin lies in successfully remaining in heat balance and water balance. The story of how this is done will be told in the next two chapters. Page 15 2 The Fire of Life Homeothermism Birds and Mammals remain at almost constant warm temperatures in the ever changing thermal environments on earth. As air, soil, rock, and other organisms heat and cool by the moment, day, and season in these ever shifting thermal environments, the fire of life burns with relative constancy only within feathers and fur.

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