By Fred A. Ryser

Birds have constantly been of willing curiosity to guy, seeing that their good looks, music and interesting behaviour are conspicuously displayed and will be seen and heard through even the main informal observer. This publication, the results of over thirty years of study, is the main accomplished ever released at the different chook lifetime of the nice Basin.

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

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William H. Behle of the University of Utah and George T. Austin of the Nevada State Museum reviewed the entire manuscript. Both of these reviewers have made notable contributions to the science of ornithology, and both possess firsthand knowledge of Great Basin ornithology. William R. Dawson of the University of Michigan reviewed the chapters on the fire of life and the water of life. Some of Dawson's experimental studies in these areas are classics. I sincerely appreciate the help I received from these three scientists.

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. Windy days are frequent the year around. Wind accelerates the evaporation of water, promoting dehydration and desiccation and bringing an added chill factor to the spring and winter. Wind can interfere with flight and feeding and represents a threat to aboveground nests. Compared to those in many other deserts, sandstorms are relatively infrequent in the Great Basin Desert.

Body Size and Heat Balance Small birds the size of Bushtits, chickadees, and sparrows have a much more difficult time practicing homeothermism than do birds the size of magpies and ravens in the rapidly fluctuating thermal environments of deserts and mountains. For body size affects heat flow and the heat exchanges between a bird and its environment-all to the detriment of small birds. The thought that body size could influence a species' thermal relations with its environment has been with us for well over a hundred years, as naturalists have long pondered the so-called Bergmann's rule.

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