A Naturalist's Book List

With all of the wonderful apps available, it is still a good idea to have a shelf of guides to call on.  We love paging through them while planning our next exploration, exploring their beautiful illustrations, and carrying our favorites with us for quick reference.

The first modern guide book was created by Roger Tory Peterson in 1934.  His Guide to the Birds set a new standard.  Before its introduction, naturalists had to rely upon often cumbersome scientific keys.  Peterson's innovation opened up the world of birding and changed the course of natural history.

Here are some favorites from our shelves, perfect for filling a naturalist's bookshelf in your home. 

Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America  With helpful tips on how to attract and identify moths, range maps and season graphs showing at a glance when and where to find each species, and clear photographs that use the unique Peterson arrow system for easy identification, this guide provides everything an amateur or experienced moth-watcher needs. 

A Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America This field guide includes all the flora and fauna you're most likely to see in the forests of eastern North America. With 53 full-color plates and 80 color photos illustrating trees, birds, mammals, wildflowers, mushrooms, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, moths, beetles, and other insects. 

Hollows, Peepers, and Highlanders:  An Appalachian Mountain Ecology  George Constantz, a biologist and naturalist, writes about the beauty and nature of the Appalachian landscape. While the information is scientific in nature, Constantz's accessible descriptions of the adaptation of various organisms to their environment enable the reader to enjoy learning about the Appalachian ecosystem. The book is divided into three sections: "Stage and Theater," "The Players," and "Seasonal Act." Each section sets the scene and describes the events occurring in nature. "Stage and Theatre" is comprised of chapters that describe the origins of the Appalachia region. "The Players" is an interesting and in-depth look into the ecology of animals, such as the mating rituals of different species, and the evolutionary explanation for the adaptation of Appalachian wildlife. The last section, "Seasonal Act," makes note of the changes in Appalachian weather each season and its effect on the inhabitants.

Mountain Nature: A Seasonal Natural History of the Southern Appalachians  The Southern Appalachians are home to a breathtakingly diverse array of living things--from delicate orchids to carnivorous pitcher plants, from migrating butterflies to flying squirrels, and from brawny black bears to more species of salamander than anywhere else in the world. Mountain Nature is a lively and engaging account of the ecology of this remarkable region. It explores the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachians and the webs of interdependence that connect them.

Highroad Guide to Virginia Mountains  From the Appalachian Plateau to the Valley and Ridge to the Blue Ridge, the Highroad Guide to the Virginia Mountains introduces visitors to the best the mountains have to offer. Whether you are looking for a great spot to trout fish, descriptions of day long or week long hikes, the perfect spot to pitch your family's tent, or a beautiful scenic drive, you will find it here in a format that is easy to use and packed with detailed information.  The indispensable guide to the best the Virginia mountains have to offer.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States  Filled with concise descriptions and stunning photographs, the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States belongs in the home of every Mid-Atlantic resident and in the backpack of every naturalist.  The guide is packed with visual information -- the 1,500 full-color images include more than 1,300 photographs, 18 maps, and 16 night-sky charts, as well as more than 100 drawings explaining everything from geological processes to the basic features of different plants and animals. 

Newcombs Wildflower Guide  Lawrence Newcomb's system of identification on wild flowers is based on natural structural features that are easily visible to the untrained eye and enables amateurs and experts to identify almost any wildflower quickly and accurately.


Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont: A Naturalist's Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia   This richly illustrated field guide serves as an introduction to the wildflowers and plant communities of the southern Appalachians and the rolling hills of the adjoining piedmont. Rather than organizing plants, including trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, by flower color or family characteristics, as is done in most guidebooks, botanist Tim Spira takes a holistic, ecological approach that enables the reader to identify and learn about plants in their natural communities. This approach, says Spira, better reflects the natural world, as plants, like other organisms, don't live in isolation; they coexist and interact in myriad ways. Full-color photo keys allow the reader to rapidly preview plants found within each of the 21 major plant communities described, and the illustrated species description for each of the 340 featured plants includes fascinating information about the ecology and natural history of each plant in its larger environment.

The Sibley Guide to Trees  The man who revolutionized the field guide to birds now brings his formidable skills of identification and illustration to the more than six hundred tree species of North America. Similar in size and format to The Sibley Guide to Birds, the layout for this guide is another triumph of logic and concision. Species are arranged taxonomically, not by features such as leaf shape (as in most other guides), which will enable the user to browse the images to find a match for an observed tree in the same way a birder uses the bird guide. And all pages will follow the same format, allowing the user to pinpoint particular information with ease. David Sibley’s meticulous, exquisitely detailed paintings illustrate the cycles of annual and lifetime development, and reveal even the very subtle similarities and distinctions between like elements of different species: bark, leaves, needles, cones, flowers, fruit, twigs, and silhouettes. More than four hundred maps show the complete range, both natural and cultivated, for nearly all the species. Issues of conservation, preservation, and environmental health are addressed in authoritative essays. As innovative, comprehensive, and indispensable as The Sibley Guide to Birds, this new book will set the standard of excellence in field guides to trees.

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America   Compact and comprehensive, this guide features 650 bird species, plus regional populations, found east of the Rocky Mountains. Entries include stunningly accurate illustrations--more than 4,601 in total--with descriptive captions pointing out the most important field marks. Each entry has been updated to include the most current information concerning frequency, nesting, behavior, food and feeding, voice description, and key identification features. Here too are more than 601 updated maps drawn from information contributed by 110 regional experts across the continent, and showing winter, summer, year-round, migration, and rare ranges.

Butterflies of North America  This new field guide has been produced to illustrate all of the species in the North American continent. The most user-friendly butterfly guide ever published, still handy and compact, now updated with the very latest information.  Follows the latest classification, recognizing more than forty additional species, includes four new color plates of Mexican-border rarities, more than 2,300 images of butterflies in natural poses, pictorial table of contents, convenient one-page index, and range maps on text pages.

Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America  Many insects are difficult even for the experts to identify, but here readers will find a wealth of information on the amazing observable behaviors of insects and their fascinating life histories. Naturalists Kenn Kaufman and Eric R. Eaton use a broad ecological approach rather than overly technical terms, making the book accessible and easy to use. Their lively and engaging text emphasizes the insects that are most likely to draw attention and also includes helpful details on a wide array of lesser-known but recognizable groups. The guide is lavishly illustrated, with more than 2,350 digitally enhanced photographs representing every major group of insects found in North America north of Mexico. 

A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America  This book meets the needs of this growing audience of naturalists, environmentalists, anglers, teachers, students, and others by providing substantive information in easy-to-understand, non-technical language for many groups of invertebrates commonly found in the streams, lakes, ponds, and other freshwater environments of North America. Section One provides background information on the biology and ecology of freshwater organisms and environments and explains why and how invertebrates can be studied, simply and without complex equipment, in the field and the laboratory. Section Two describes nearly 100 of the most common groups of invertebrates, and for each group a whole-body colour illustration is provided along with brief text pointing out the most important features that identify members of the group. Section Three contains in-depth descriptions of the life history, behaviour, and ecology of the various invertebrate groups, and explains their important ecological contributions and relationships to humans. The Guide is broad in scope, geographically and taxonomically, and it is written at a substantive yet easily accessible level that will appeal to both novices and those with more advanced knowledge of the subject.

Frogs and Toads of the Southeast  With more than forty native and introduced species of frogs and toads occurring in the southeastern United States, the region represents the heart of frog and toad diversity in the country. Renowned herpetologists Mike Dorcas and Whit Gibbons provide us with the most comprehensive and authoritative, yet accessible and fun-to-read, guide to these sometimes wet, sometimes warty wonders of nature.

Turtles of the Southeast  Seventy-five percent of the turtle species in the United States can be found in the Southeast. In fact, the region is second only to parts of Asia in its number of native turtles. Filled with more than two hundred color photographs and written with a special focus on conservation, this guide covers forty-five species of this nonthreatening, ancient lineage of long-lived reptiles.  Heavily illustrated, fact-filled descriptions of each species and its habitat comprise the heart of the book. Species accounts cover such information as descriptions of adults and hatchlings; key identifiers including size, distinctive characters and markings; land, river, pond, and wetland habitats; behaviors and activities; food and diet; reproduction; predators and defense; and conservation issues.

Snakes Of The Southeast  Fifty-three kinds of snakes can be found in the Southeast, almost half of all species native to North America. Filled with more than 300 color photographs and written by two renowned herpetologists, this new edition is the most comprehensive authoritative guide to the snakes of the region.  At the heart of the book are its heavily illustrated, fact-filled descriptions of each snake species. Also included is a wealth of general information about the importance of snake conservation and the biology, diversity, habitats, and ecology of snakes. Find useful information about the interactions of humans and snakes: species that are likely to be found near houses, snakes as pets, what to do in case of a snakebite, and more.

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