I have a fairly extensive natural history book collection which is heavily used for research. It occurred to me that if there’s a naturalist, or a budding naturalist, on your holiday gift-giving list, or if you would like to expand your own natural history library, you might appreciate some suggestions. The three books I’ve chosen are not fresh off the press. One was published 15 years ago. But they are all in print, and each of them has solved many an identification mystery for me.
March Elbroch’s Mammal Tracks & Sign covers a wide range of categories – photographs and extensive text regarding North American mammal tracks, scat, trails and a million other signs. David Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America has never failed me when I’ve found an unfamiliar caterpillar. He includes photographs and information on habitat, range, common food plants and more. And who hasn’t found a bird feather and wondered what species it came from? In addition to Scott and McFarland’s photographs of feathers in Bird Feathers, they go into the history, structure and types of North American bird feathers.
Any one of these books would answer most identification questions in their respective fields. If you have a naturalist in mind to give one to, you might want to subtly check to make sure these aren’t already in his or her possession. Of course, this post was written with the assumption that the lucky person who receives your gift already has Naturally Curious and Naturally Curious Day by Day! I hear the author also writes children’s nature books for the very young (3-8).
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