Books of Interest

Science and Nature

 


 

These books are sorted into general subjects for several nature categories. No longer linked to Amazon links for now. I was being very selective here and these books are all highly recommended either for reference or for pure pleasure. Descriptive information is included where possible. Occasional personal reviews included as well. Click the books button at the bottom for nonfiction and poetry selections. And above banner will take you to the Amazon books features section. Any purchases you make do contribute to the site maintenance. THANK YOU.

 


 

Spiders

   Spiders of North America (an identification manual), Ubick, Paquin, Cushing and Roth

 

A new manual of all the US genera with keys to the genera. Black and white drawings of virtually all representative genera. Not a guide with species lists. And the keys are full of genital characters so it is not for the feint of heart. There is currently no good purely photographic guide to the US spiders.

 

   Spiders of the Eastern United States, W. Mike Howell and Ronald L. Jenkins

 

A selected photo based guide to the east. Good for starters and for classifying spiders broadly with some excellent text information. Contains some behavior and ecology notes as well as some information on other spiders in the related groups.

 

Reptiles and Amphibians

   The Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas, Trauth, Robison and Plummer

 

An amazing natural history guide. Should set new standards in the world of state guides. I wish they were all like this one. If you live in the south and are interested in these animals, this is the guide for you. Impressive written and photographic content. These guys deserve an award for this book which took many, many years to complete.

 

   Reptiles and Amphibians Eastern/Central North America, Peterson Field Guides, Conant and Collins

 

The Peterson Field guide format perfected. This is what you want if you live anywhere in the east for your pocket or backpack. The above Arkansas guide should stay home in your library. Good plates and illustrations. Maps for everything. Updated in 1998.

 

   Texas Snakes, Werler and Dixon

 

Yes, this is a magnificent book. And, yes, you need it. Fireside reading and photos of high quality. The maps are even better than Trauth and that is saying something. Though they are similar format.

 

Birds

   The Beak of the Finch, Jonathan Weiner

 

One of the wonders of the world in bird and genetic research. Darwin would be proud. Makes all of us wish we were bird researchers.

 

   Ravens In Winter, Bernd Heinrich

 

Essentially a long dissertation on one of the most intriguing birds in nature. Bernd witnesses a Raven calling others of his kind to a large food cache. This is a behavior unlike any other birds. Generally birds are selfish not clannish. Bernd's fascination with the birds and the almost comical way they play with his attempts to study them makes for one lovely book. And, Bernd, by the way, can write with best of them.

 

   Shorebirds of North America, Dennis Paulson

 

The newest addition to the shorebird shelf. And it covers virtually every shorebird possible in the US with photographic images on all. Voice, behavior and flight tips as a bonus. Almost pocket sized.

 

   The Sibley Guide to Birds, David Sibley

 

Serious guide masterpiece. Hard to imagine going without it in the truck anymore. Some still prefer the more extensive bird list of the Geographic guide. But unless you are headed for the Alaskan islands, this is the book to study and refer to for field questions.

 

   The Birds of Costa Rica, Richard Garrigues

 

 

My new favorite non-US guide. Superior in size and image quality to the older guide. This is the one to take to La Selva or any fine jungle in the country of Costa Rica. If you haven't been, ponder it. Reward the countries that are now making an effort at preservation.

 

Insects

   Butterflies and Moths of Missouri, J. Richard and Joan E. Heitzman

 

This may be out of print. And the images are specimen photos but they do show difficult to see characters on all the Missouri species, including many of the day-flying moths. Information on food plant use. A great book for everyone in the boundary states.

 

   Butterflies through Binoculars, The East, Jeffrey Glassberg

 

The book that changed the butterfly watching landscape. Butterfly scientists may not get along with him because of his collection aversion but his book remains the best field and yard book for identifying live, free-ranging butterflies. Get the east or west version, of course, based on your location.

 

   Caterpillars of Eastern North America, David L. Wagner

 

My new favorite guide. Wow. Filled a great void and the photos and text are wonderful. I want to go out in the field with this guy. Peterson-guide sized for easy backpack carrying. And includes foodplant preferences and images of the moths and butterflies.

 

   Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States, John Abbott

 

John's new book is excellent and his website is perhaps equally as valuable. If you live in the states covered by this book, you need this book. Maps are slightly out of date due to the rapid increase in knowledge in this area recently but this is a fine book for your nature collection.

 

   Dragonflies through Binoculars, Sidney Dunkle

 

Mister Dunkle changed my life with this book. The only other comparable dragonfly book was the giant textbook from Needham, Westfall and May. It was not a pocket photo guide. This is. These insects are more challenging ID problems than butterflies but are a great pleasure once you get to know them. Covers the whole US.

 

   Evolution of the Insects, Grimaldi and Engel

 

An impressively comprehensive looking treatise that is receiving nothing but excellent reviews from the people who, well, you know who you are. Probably not a mystical page turner but I will read it with pleasure.

 

   A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States, David L. Pearson

 

New book in the insect canon and looks highly promising. There are some fine sites out there for Tiger's on the web. This should probably be in the car. Most states have less than forty species. And they are always interesting animals to watch.

 

   For Love of Insects, Thomas Eisner

 

This guy could write about anything and I think I would read it. This book was a revelation. It is not a field guide. It is for reading and being amazed by. Some of the photos are jaw-dropping. He has a new book as well.

 

   Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets of the United States, Capinera, Scott and Walker

 

The first real visual guide to this group of insects. The painted illustrations are very fine. Weak on the Pygmy-grasshoppers due to the confusion apparently. But excellent for those adult species in the other groups. As with spiders, the nymphal stages can be tough and this guide cannot cover them all. Range maps included.

 

   Life in the Undergrowth, David Attenborough

 

The newest of the Attenborough guidebooks that takes a look through one of his most anticipated filmed series. None of these books have been poorly written or photographed. Get yours while it is hot.

 

   Solitary Wasps: Behavior and Natural History, Kevin M. O'Neill

 

Okay, only get this if you are a serious wasp fan. Not light reading. But not a textbook either. A compendium of info and an excellent bibliography. Many tables of serial information and includes quite a bit of spider wasp info as well.

 

   Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia, Giff Beaton

 

A new entry in the Odonate category but a climber quickly if you are comparing quality of photographs. Striking and useful book. You find yourself praying your fauna overlaps with Georgia everywhere it can.

 

   Insects, Stephen Marshall

The new giant in pictorial insect guides. Wow. Bible sized. Murder weapon sized. But what images. And ONE MAN responsible. It does tend to slant toward the NE US insects but still, if you are shooting or studying insects, get this for your shelf.

 

   The Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Kenn Kaufman & Eric Eaton

The book for the car. Don't drag Marshall around it will cut down on your gas mileage. This is a fine and very thorough romp through the insect groups in NA with many many representative images that should get you very close if you are looking at a bug and just don't know. Eric did a fine job. It was painful, I know, editing the known world.