Category Archives: nature books

Book Review: Butterflies of the Northwoods

I am reprinting a book review from a few years ago, Butterflies of the Northwoods.

Book Review: Butterflies of the North Woods

Butterflies of the North Woods by Larry Weber is an excellent field guide for identification of butterflies. It is part of the North Woods Naturalist series, covering the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. How many times have you seen a butterfly flying by, and weren’t sure what it was?  This field guide not only has excellent photos, but it also has a lot of information on the habits of butterflies, such as what food they eat and what food the butterfly caterpillars eat.  It really helped me out, because we get a lot of brown butterflies with eyespots in this area that all look very similar. It helped me to differentiate between them, by comparing the number of eyespots, etc.  Also included is an interesting section on the history of butterflies, such as: butterflies are really a type of moth that may have started flying during the day to get away from moth-eating bats. There is also information on day-flying moths that only look like butterflies. Also part of the series: Moths and Caterpillars of the North Woods, Dragonflies of the North Woods, and Damselflies of the North Woods.

Reference:  Larry Weber, Butterflies of the North Woods, 2nd edition,(Duluth,MN:Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2006

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Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly

The Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly is brown with black spots.

The Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly sits on a chair


This butterfly is called the Northern Pearly Eye and it is a common butterfly in northern Michigan this time of year. It is brown with black spots, and can easily be confused with other small spotted butterflies. The Northern Pearly Eye is a bit larger than most, and often has an erratic flight high in the air. Consult a butterfly guidebook in order to tell all the different species apart.

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Book Review: Audubon Eastern Birds

Book Review: Audubon Eastern Birds


National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region by John Bull and John Farrand Jr., is a really nice field guide for getting an overview of the kinds of birds you are seeing in your backyard or at parks. There is an explanation of the range maps and types of birds at the beginning, and there are beautiful color pictures of the birds in a special section, organized by type of bird and color. I especially liked the section on owls. They also show both male and female birds when they have different coloring. The next section is a section of bird descriptions and range maps that correspond to the bird photos. There is also a description of their calls, but sometimes it can be a little hard to transcribe bird songs. You just have to make sure that you keep the page numbers straight, because the number of the “plates”, (photos of the birds), are different from the page numbers of the bird descriptions, and you just need to make sure you have the right number, or you’ll turn to the wrong page. All in all, I think this is an excellent book, but I would like it if the descriptions of the birds were more detailed. There is also an Audubon Western Birds book as well.

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Autumn Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

This is a photo I took last year in Michigan of an Eastern Chipmunk in a Rhododendron bush.  They gather many seeds, nuts and fruit in preparation for their winter sleep.  It is not a real hibernation though, because they wake up periodically to eat from their store of food.  They do have a somewhat lower body temperature when they sleep, however.  There are many different regional chipmunks in different areas across the country.  It can be rather hard to tell them apart.  I reviewed a guidebook last year, The Audubon Guide to Mammals, that has a section that covers different kinds of chipmunks.

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Book Review: Winter World

Winter world book by Bernd Heinrich

Winter World by Bernd Heinrich


Book Review-Winter World by Bernd Heinrich

Winter World by Bernd (not a misspelling) Heinrich is an interesting book written by a wildlife biologist who also does his own drawings.  It explains how animals use ingenuity and natural traits to survive the winter. It goes into detail about how field mice, flying squirrels, and other small animals survive the winter by foraging, huddling together, and gathering warm material for their homes. There is a funny story he tells about how some mice got into his cabin in Vermont when he was not there, and started chewing up styrofoam insulation in the ceiling to use as bedding material.  He also talks about how animals like turtles hibernate under the mud, and about the complex biological changes that occur during hibernation.  All in all this is a great reference book to have around, or to read straight through.

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