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Fauna Book Reviews & Library




Fauna Books

Smithsonian Institution Animal

The Definitive Visual Guide to the World’s Wildlife

By David Burnie & Don E. Eilson

Published by DK Publishing

There is a new king of the beasts. Big, colorful and bold, this creature will take on and defeat all comers. It is Smithsonian Institution Animal - The Definitive Visual Guide to the World’s Wildlife By David Burnie & Don E. Eilson and Published by DK Publishing. The title ‘definitive’ is supremely accurate as Animal is as comprehensive a guide as one will ever come across. The species accounts feature brilliant color photographs, distribution maps and size measurements for each of the mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians and invertebrates represented. Animal offers lists of critical endangered species, insights into habitats as well as detailed descriptions of evolution, behaviour, life cycles and conservation. Smithsonian Institution Animal - The Definitive Visual Guide to the World’s Wildlife by David Burnie & Don E. Eilson and Published by DK Publishing is an amazing book. It is a must have for any library.



Shorebirds of North America

 – The Photographic Guide

By Dennis Paulson

Published by Princeton University Press

Shorebirds are amazing animals - some species are capable of the longest migrations of the world's vertebrates. The wetlands and mudflats of North America host many species of shorebirds that stop to refuel on their long migratory flights to and from their breeding and wintering grounds. Shorebirds of North America – The Photographic Guide by Dennis Paulson and published by Princeton University Press is a superlative guide to these wonderful creatures. Packed with beautiful and vivid color photographs of each species, Paulson's book is an irresistible guide for anyone interested in these animals. The photographs are carefully selected to be helpful in aiding accurate identification of birds which are often very similar in appearance. His book offers detailed descriptions of size, plumage details, flight patterns, voice, behaviour, habitat and range. These descriptions are very useful but what makes this book stand out is the over 500 photos – with about 10 photos per species covering adult and juveniles and different plumages. Shorebirds of North America – The Photographic Guide by Dennis Paulson and published by Princeton University Press is the best reference on shorebirds on the market today and a 'must have' addition to any birders library.

Birds of Canada

By Fred J, Alsop III

Published by Dorling Kindersley

                       Birding is one of the most popular outdoor activities today. Most active birders have a trusted field guide that they rely on for in the field identification, but it is also important to have an accurate home reference to enhance and compliment your outdoor experiences. Birds of Canada by Fred J, Alsop III and published by Dorling Kindersley is an excellent reference for not only Canadian but North American birdwatchers. With full page accounts of over 600 species that include song, behaviour, breeding, nesting and population descriptions it finishes where the field guides leave off. The large colourful photos or plates of each bird are enhanced with descriptive text and each page offers easy to understand flight pattern graphics and nest descriptions. Organized by family, this large book is surprisingly easy to navigate, the bold text and colourful pages making quick reference a breeze. Birds of Canada by Fred J, Alsop III and published by Dorling Kindersley is a great bird reference guide for the home.


Gulls of North America, Europe and Asia

by Klaus Malling Olsen and Hans Larsson

published by Princeton University Press


One of the challenges for birdwatchers, expert and novice alike, is the accurate identification of gulls throughout their stages of maturity. These wonderful birds display a regal beauty that is often taken for granted.  ‘Gulls of North America, Europe and Asia by Klaus Malling Olsen and Hans Larsson and published by Princeton University Press is an amazing book on these creatures. Every so often a book will come along that fills a niche so brilliantly that it becomes an unparalleled asset to own. The different gull species descriptions are perfectly complete and accurately thorough. This incredible reference offers many side by side comparison plates as well as individual accounts of 43 species of gull. Each account offers 2 different color plates, beautifully illustrated by Larsson, one standing of each plumage variation as well as one in flight.  The species accounts include measurements of wing, bill and tarsus and 3 full pages of color photos. This book is a tremendous effort. Few species guides come remotely close to achieving the effort of Gulls of North America, Europe and Asia by Klaus Malling Olsen and Hans Larsson; it sets an incredibly high standard of quality and will make a proud inclusion to any natural history library.



The Exotic Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida

By Walter E.Meshaka, Jr., Brian P. Butterfield, & J. Brian Hauge

Published by Krieger Publishing

The Exotic Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida is the latest guide from Krieger Publishing and takes a wonderful focus on the many introduced species of reptiles and amphibians that have come to reside in this sunny state. This comprehensive guide book provides species descriptions, habitat and habit reports as well as informative and descriptive maps of the species current distribution in Florida. The Exotic Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida also offers vivid color photographs of each turtle, frog, lizard and snake in this book. Walter E.Meshaka, Jr., Brian P. Butterfield, & J. Brian Hauge have provided a unique effort, putting the serious issue of invasive alien species to the forefront while still offering an informative and entertaining read.


Wolves: Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation

 by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani

Published by University of Chicago Press

So many books have been written on the wolf that there seemed little more that could be written. However, Wolves is an extraordinary treatise of up-to-date information that reveals that so much more has been learned about these creatures. Twenty-two specialists with a combined 350 person years of experience, set the task of compiling much of what is now known about wolves into one book. They review topics of social ecology, behaviour, communication, carnivory, predation, population dynamics, physiology, genetics, evolution, restoration and conservation, among other topics. Especially interesting was the debate on whether the red wolf in eastern USA should be considered a full species or a hybrid cross between gray wolf and coyote. Coyote genes are present in many of the recent red wolves but none prior to 1944. There were 100 wild-born red wolves in 20 packs by 2002. The story reveals how much has been learned from this experience into the logistics and politics of returning animals to the wild. Although this is a scholarly text, the passion held by each of the scientists for this creature of wilderness emerges in each chapter.


Princeton Field Guides - Reptiles of Australia

By Steve Wilson & Gerry Swan

Published by Princeton University Press

Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!Australia is a herpetologist’s dreamland. This magnificent land is home to over 800 species of reptile. Deadly snakes, dangerous crocs and fascinating lizards and turtles dot this wild landscape and are often brought into our living rooms by the fearless crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin.  Princeton Field Guides - Reptiles of Australia by Steve Wilson & Gerry Swan is an exceptional guide to these amazing creatures. A colorful and comprehensive 473 page book that examines, explains and notes all points of description, status, habitat and level of danger of Australia’s reptiles. Each species description is accompanied by a brilliantly descriptive color photograph that accents and enhances description and identification. Princeton Field Guides - Reptiles of Australia by Steve Wilson & Gerry Swan is a well organized, informative and very useful field guide to these remarkable animals.


Mammal Tracks & Sign:

 A Guide To North American Species

By Mark Elbroch

Published by Stackpole Books

Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!A quiet walk in the woods or a distant hike in the wilderness provides special moments and activities for many nature and outdoor enthusiasts. The thrill of spotting a deer or bear in the wild highlights any such trip and helps to make these types of experiences all the more worthwhile. The fantasy that these encounters are imminent or possible often provides the fuel for many a person’s outdoor jaunts. Mammal Tracks and Sign - A Guide to North American Species by Mark Elbroch is an amazing guide book that helps make a still moment in the backcountry come alive, helping you understand what is there to see and realize what you have just missed seeing. Incredibly comprehensive with beautifully detailed photographs this is a book no one who ventures outdoors to appreciate, study or contemplate nature should be without. One cannot accurately describe this books brilliance. The section on tracks includes mostly life sized reproductions as well as easy to follow lessons on how to comprehend gait, rhythm and more. Very impressive in style and content, we discover runs and ridges, examine hollows and nests, burrows and dens. Also included in Mammal Tracks and Sign is likely the largest photo guide to scat, which accompanies and complements a detailed lesson in reading and understanding these signs. From there we are shown different signs on vegetation and fungi and other sources of feeding which include very interesting and ingenious mammal kill photos, sites and diagrams. Mark Elbroch is a genius and Mammal Tracks and Sign - A Guide to North American Species is an astounding effort of research and dedication. It is thoroughly fascinating to read and helps the reader, hiker or naturalist paint a more vivid picture of his wild surroundings and create a complete natural portrait alive with drama, energy and life.


by Bill Schneider
The Globe Pequot Press

There are scores of books on the biology of bears but Where the Grizzly Walks is the only book entirely devoted to bear preservation. The reader meets the characters known as the 'bear people' who have devoted their lives preserving and restoring bears in the USA. Originally published in 1977, Schneider has updated this book with new information. There is some good news in the pages of bear preservation. The view of bears has changed over the years from eliminating a ferocious beast to saving the remnants of a symbol of wilderness. But bear preservation is not out of the woods. Anyone interested in bear conservation and its history in the USA will find this book a good read.


Smithsonian Mammal

Published by Dorling Kindersley

   Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!A fantastic book, Smithsonian Mammal offers a special journey across the continents. Filled with amazing photos, we find the mammals of the wetlands and mountains, the grasslands and deserts and view them through a variety of terrains and habitats. From familiar favorites to the unique and obscure the habits, evolution and profiles are explained in simple detail. Smithsonian Mammal offers a unique glimpse of a territories mammals, how they live, hunt and survive including spectacular behaviour profiles of special mammals and evolutionary marvels. Smithsonian has produced another winner with Mammal, a valuable edition to all home libraries.


National Geographic Reference Atlas Birds Of North America

Edited and Compiled by Mel Baughman

Published by Simon and Shuster

   Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!Most Birders and naturalists have a trusted field guide for identification and descriptions of their encountered species and now National Geographic has produced a companion to any guide with their Reference Atlas to the Birds of North America. It is a comprehensive volume with all the over 800 species of birds, filled with detailed information, vivid photos and illustrations. Each species is chapter is organized by family with a wonderful and unique opening species introduction page authored by a specific birding expert. The chapters continue on with detailed descriptions of the species, classifications, body structure, plumage, feeding and breeding behaviors, vocalization, observation tips, status, conservation and more. All chapters are brilliantly concluded with one or two large detailed maps that offer a unique and detailed view into certain habitats or migration patterns for various species of each family. Unfortunately these migration maps are so good that you long for one for each of the North American birds. One realizes this reaction and need for more is because the lucky reader is easily spoiled by this book’s riches. Editor and compiler Mel Baughman has produced an amazing product and his achievement is to be commended. His extreme research and vast knowledge make this effort shine. The National Geographic Reference Atlas to the Birds of North America is an incredibly valuable reference work and definitely deserves a spot in any birders or naturalists library.



Snakes of the United States and Canada: 

Natural History and Care in Captivity

 By John V. Rossi and Roxanne Rossi

Published by Krieger Publishing

Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!Snakes are fascinating reptiles that engage the mind and hearts of many. They can make wonderful pets for those who take a fancy in herpetoculture and whether you are a major snake breeder or a child with a captured garter snake from the back yard, there is now a classic guide to keeping North American species of snake. ‘Snakes of the United States and Canada – Natural History and Care in Captivity’ by John V. Rossi and Roxanne Rossi covers every aspect of snake herpetoculture in a simple, easy to follow format. They expertly leave no topic or example of their general care uncovered.  The Rossi’s are expert snake keepers who have experienced first hand these snakes and their knowledge and care shine in this excellent volume.  In today’s growing environmental climate important ideas regarding natural history and conservation are incredibly important to talk about and the Rossi’s explain the important role of the snake in nature and display passionate concern with the native health of these creatures.  The core of this book is its species profiles that are arguably among the most comprehensive written to date and offer expert and invaluable coverage of all Canadian and American snake species. With vivid accompanying color photographs of each snake, their habitat, eating habits, reproduction and so on are precisely covered and easy to reference. This book is an exhaustively researched gem and ‘Snakes of the United States and Canada – Natural History and Care in Captivity’ by John V. Rossi and Roxanne Rossi is a stand alone original and a must have for all snake keepers and fanciers.


The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America

by David Allen Sibley
Published by Knopf

Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!David Allen Sibley displays an equaled mastery with his wonderful field guides to birds. They are the chosen books for bird lovers, students and scientists for their concise and accurate bird illustrations, detailed descriptions and easy to find layout. The one slight drawback of The Sibley Guide to Birds is due to its large, although information packed, size it is not a practical field use guidebook. Now with the wonderful release of The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America and The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America we get two smaller but refined versions of the Sibley classic. The same vivid watercolours and scientifically accurate text reside in almost half the volume, making a light and portal treasure. These field guides will fit snugly in your backpack between your binoculars and your life list. With his typical style and now more function in The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America and The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, David Allen Sibley continues his dominance of the bird guide field.


Pocket Factfile of Endangered Animals

Published by Sterling Publishing

Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!Conservation and the protection of the world’s endangered species are of paramount importance to many people and most believe that education and information are the most vital tools in these efforts. Pocket Factfile of Endangered Animals by Sterling Publishing is a wonderful guide to educating and enlightening us about some of the fantastic mammals, birds, reptiles and insects that represent some of the world’s most endangered species. At 256 pages and 120 animals, Pocket Factfile of Endangered Animals won’t quite fit easily in ones pocket. It is jam-packed with too much wonderful data to accomplish this. Information on each selected species status, distribution, description, diet, breeding and conservation along with distribution maps, vivid color photographs and beautiful artwork. What really makes this book special is how well detailed and descriptive each species conservation reports are. All guide books show you the facts but the great guide books such as this make you understand them. Pocket Factfile of Endangered Animals by Sterling Publishing is a colourful and comprehensive guide to some of the worlds most threatened animals. Don’t let the word pocket fool you, this book is a treasure of information, concise and easy to enjoy.


Wild Cats of the World 

By Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist

Published by the University of Chicago Press

Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!Cats come in many sizes and live in a variety of climates and regions. From tigers to domestic cats, felids are special animals that hold a warm spot in many of our hearts. ‘Wild Cats of the World’ by Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist and published by The University of Chicago Press is the definitive book on these amazing mammals.  Accurately billed ‘The Ultimate Reference to Every Species Worldwide’, this book is an absolute treasure of cat information. ‘Wild Cats of the World’ is a comprehensive, stylish, well-written encyclopedia with amazing and rare photographs of the world’s many cat species. Effectively explaining what makes a cat a cat, from their social structures and basic biology to their taxonomy, ‘Wild Cats of the World’ offers insights into hunting styles, kill ratios per species, conservation status and habitat, covering every cat species including a complete history of the domestic cat. Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist have put forth an amazing effort by exhaustively and completely researching for this book, successfully using data from a variety of felid publications. This beautiful reference work provides the answers to all questions on every species of cat from the rare Bay Cat to the Domestic cat to the Lion with nothing overlooked. Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist are leaders in conservation knowledge on the cats of the world and provide a fascinating historical database on the successes and the failures of cat relocation efforts. Regardless of whether you’re a cat lover, ‘Wild Cats of the World’ by Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist has set the standard for cat reference and is necessary addition to any library.


Glimpses of Paradise: The Marvel of Massed Animals

By Fred Bruemmer

Published by Key Porter Books

Ecobeetle Highly Recommeds this Book!Animals amaze us in many ways. The natural world has many facets that that are as odd as they are beautiful. When species aggregate to breed, feed or rest they create spectacular scenes that are becoming increasingly rare. ‘Glimpses of Paradise - The Marvel of Massed Animals’ by Fred Bruemmer and published by Key Porter Books is a beautiful look at these captivating moments. Packed with Fred Bruemmer’s beautiful photographs and informative and insightful text, ‘Glimpses of Paradise’ takes the reader into these phenomena. From Monarch Butterflies in Mexico to Chinstrap Penguins in Antarctica, ‘The Marvel of Massed Animals’ offers insights into the habits of a wealth of species from all corners and climates of the planet. Fred Bruemmer is careful to remind us that as immense and strong as these species appear nothing is certain during a time when the world’s ecology is so fragile and that all species, regardless of their numbers, should be thought of as vulnerable to decline and endangerment. We have lost a great deal of nature in a short time such as the Passenger Pigeon and we must respect and preserve what we still have. With Fred Bruemmer’s fantastic photos and personal and informative text, ‘Glimpses of Paradise’ is a colorful celebration of the vibrancy of animal life.


Wild Bird Guides – Great Horned Owl

By Dwight G. Smith

Published by Stackpole Books

The Great Horned Owl, one of the largest of the North American owls, is a respected creature of power and beauty. They inhabit nearly every corner of North America and romance many of us with their wild majesty. Wild Bird Guides – Great Horned Owl by Dwight G. Smith and published by Stackpole Books is a brilliant guide to this magnificent and sometimes mysterious creature. Beautiful color photos fill each page, perfectly complementing the descriptive text that accompanies it. The relevant text of each page never exceeds a few paragraphs making it an effortless read that completely covers all aspects of Great Horned Owl ecology, biology and conservation. This easy to read style makes the reader absorb the facts simply, never dulling with too much science but it is light and interesting throughout. You read on, enthralled by the vivid photography that brightens each page, and capture the Great Horned Owl complete. Dwight G. Smith through his thorough research has created a definitive guide to the Great Horned Owl and information on behavior such as nesting and hunting give broad yet basic insights to this amazing raptor. It is an enjoyable read that at 102 pages slips easy into any backpack for a quick consult on any bird or owl-watching trip. Wild Bird Guides – Great Horned Owl by Dwight G. Smith is an excellent guide, descriptive and comprehensive, that will definitely leave you to the wise.



By Robert Bateman

Published by Pantheon Books

Robert Bateman's latest book Birds (foreword by Peter Maththiessen, Pantheon Books, 2002) is a selection of birds he has painted near his home and around the world. For followers of Bateman, this is not a collection of paintings seen in previous books - most of the nearly 200 paintings were painted in the last few years. They include pencil and watercolour wash sketches to full canvas paintings. Characteristic of Bateman's work, the birds in Birds are wonderfully alive. His snow goose bursting from a nest exhibits the explosiveness of the event. A blue crane wading in evening light on a languid pond is exquisitely designed. A foreboding assault by giant petrels on a gentoo penguin is portrayed with all its fury and vigor of the moment. Accompanying each painting is a brief text describing Bateman's experiences and some natural history. This book would make a marvelous addition to anyone interested in nature or art. 


The Wolf in the Southwest : The Making of an Endangered Species

 New Edition

By David E. Brown

Published by High Lonesome Books

The distant howl of the wolf seems at home alongside campfires under a brilliant moon. The echoes of those cries ring with loneliness and pain. They are forever linked with the wildest of the wild, nature untouched and pure. The Southwestern U.S. to Mexico is a wild and natural area, but far from untouched and pristine wilderness areas. Moon-filled nights are no longer punctuated by the wolf’s plaintive calls due to a century of persecution that eliminated all species of wolf from the South West. With the attempts to reintroduce wild packs and the subsequent controversy regarding this issue a new edition of the David E. Brown’s brilliant ‘The Wolf in the Southwest - The Making of an Endangered Species’ has been released by High Lonesome Books. Originally published in 1983, ‘The Wolf in the Southwest’ documents the fervor to rid the wolf from the wilds of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas from the late 19th century until the late 1970’s. David E. Brown has painstakingly researched his book from decades of archival records documenting the plight of the southwest cattlemen. These ranchers whose heavy losses to cattle depredation lead to a government sanctioned declaration of war on all predators. It is a grimly fascinating tale of the sad history of the wolf in the southwest. David E. Brown’s ‘The Wolf in the Southwest’ is the definitive resource on the various species of southwestern wolf, covering their biology, territory and first hand descriptive accounts of their place within their historical environment. These coincide with various trapper reports, techniques and encounters. Thorough and complete with many historical photos and documents, David E. Brown brings this shortsighted era to life. ‘The Wolf in the Southwest - The Making of an Endangered Species’ is a bitter read for it eulogizes, not celebrates the wolf. A dramatic reminder of how destructive the world was and still is and how once we set foot in pristine natural areas we slowly begin to lose them.



Reptiles of the Northwest

British Columbia to California

by Alan St. John

Published by Lone Pine Publishing

Reptiles are one of the most successful classes of animal that inhabit the earth. They occur in almost every climate and it should be no surprise that the Pacific Northwest has its share of fascinating reptiles. There are 42 species of reptile found from British Columbia to Northern California and Reptiles of the Northwest by Alan St. John is the guide to them. Comprehensive, with brilliant photographs, it is simply a must-own for not only budding herpetologists but naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Reptiles of the Northwest by Alan St. John has an easy to access and understand quick reference guide and detailed introduction to reptiles and herpetology. Each species of Northwest reptile is given a complete introduction with detailed description and information on its distribution, habitat and behaviour. What sets Reptiles of the Northwest by Alan St. John apart from other field guides are the 6 beautiful and informative color photos of each species and the informative and whimsical field notes describing each reptile. These are accounts of encounters Alan St. John has had with these reptiles and they give the reader experiences that you don’t find in the average field guide. They are filled with the author’s wonder and joy in these creatures, written with humour and warmth in a casual biographical style.

This is a special field guide. Its soft cover allows for ease of slipping into any backpack enabling one to take advantage of the great inclusion of the Northwest Reptile Life list note pages. Reptiles of the Northwest by Alan St. John is definitive and comprehensive It is a unique field guide to unique animals.


Sibley's Birding Basics

By David Sibley

Hot on the heels of David Sibley's extraordinary field guide, The Sibley Guide ot North American Birds (Knopf) is Sibley's Birding Basics (Knopf, expected to be released in October). Birders talk about the 'jizz' of birds - that special, hard to describe feature that experienced birders use to identify a bird at a glance. This small guide explains how to become expert by refining the skills of this fine art. From where to find birds, how to use behavioral clues, voice and plumage clues, this book is a great introduction to the fun sport of birding.


A guide to common freshwater invertebrates of North America

By J. Reese Voshell, Jr. and illustrated by Amy Bartlett Wright.

Published by McDonald & Woodward Publishing

Anyone with an interest in the outdoors or natural history finds wonder and amazement in all organisms one comes across. Even the smallest of creatures holds fascination on those keen on natural life and many times will leave you wondering, ‘What is that ??’.  A guide to common freshwater invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell, Jr. is a wonderfully complete introduction to the small organisms that we find in the shallows of our local freshwater ponds, lakes, creeks or streams. Beautifully illustrated by Amy Bartlett Wright, A guide to common freshwater invertebrates of North America is much more than the typical field guides on the market today. The first section of the book takes the reader through the ecology and fundamentals of freshwater biology and freshwater invertebrates. Well written in an easy to follow flow that is indicative of his 25 years of research and study, J. Reese Voshell, Jr. explains how to use this book and introduces the reader to the guidelines to effectively study freshwater invertebrates. The rest of the book is split into two parts, the first not too different from most field guides are the illustrated descriptions of 100 of the most common freshwater invertebrates with easy to follow distinguishing characteristics. This identification section is referenced by page to the third section that contains a detailed description on the distribution, habitat, biology and feeding habitats of each of the individual freshwater invertebrates. All written in an easy to follow format, A guide to common freshwater invertebrates of North America is a comprehensive guide and study tool, it is part field guide and part biology text, the combination of which is what makes this book unique and valuable. A guide to common freshwater invertebrates of North America is as complete a guide book as you will ever find or need.





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