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MySQL in a Nutshell by Russell J.T. Dyer

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Our look is the result of reader comments, our own experimentation, and feedback from distribution channels. Distinctive covers complement our distinctive approach to technical topics, breathing personality and life into potentially dry subjects.

The animal appearing on the cover of MySQL in a Nutshell is the pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis). At 80 grams and 28 centimeters in length, the pied kingfisher is the largest bird in the world capable of a true hover in still air. Like most kingfishers, it hunts small fish from a perch or by hovering over open water. But unlike others, the pied kingfisher often travels up to three miles from land. While the closely related giant kingfisher relies heavily on shoreline perching places, the pied kingfisher can hover above choppy water and swallow its prey on the wing. For this adaptive skill, the pied kingfisher is consider the most advanced of the 87 kingfisher species.

Pied kingfishers are common and widespread across much of Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, and are easily distinguishable from other kingfishers by their unique black and white markings. Never far from water, pied kingfishers breed in burrows excavated into riverbanks. These birds form family groups, with the previous season’s offspring often helping to raise their parents’ next brood. Additional male helpers may also contribute food depending on their availability. If food is scarce, the breeding male feeds its mate, while helpers feed both parents and chicks ...

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