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.
This is a picture of large brown butterfly with eyespots, called the Northern Pearly Eye. It is found in Michigan and other Great Lake states in the summer months. It is rather hard to tell apart from other little brown butterflies with eyespots, so consult a book, such as Butterflies of the Northwoods.
Book Review: Reptiles and Amphibians of Michigan
This is a field guide to the many reptiles and amphibians of Michigan. The pictures are really beautiful, and the version I have also comes with a CD of frog and toad songs that you can use to aid your identification. There are different chapters for turtles, snakes, lizards, salamanders, and frogs and toads. There are also interesting introductions to all of these animals, showing how they are an integral part of the ecosystem. All in all, I found this to be quite an informative book, one that would even be useful to people outside of Michigan, since a lot of these animals appear in other states as well. I learned about quite a few animals I had never heard of before. At first it might appear that Michigan is not the best environment for these animals, since they are cold-blooded, but they all hibernate for the winter (which is detailed in the book), so it works out fine. Some of these animals have unusual names, such as the Queen Snake and the Eastern Hognose Snake. Others have an unusual appearance, such as the Blue-spotted Salamander and the Northern Leopard Frog. Also of interest is that the Painted Turtle is the Michigan State Reptile.
Reference: Reptiles and Amphibians of Michigan Field Guide, Stan Tekiela, Adventure Publications, Inc., Cambridge MA: 2004