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National Audubon Society Regional Guide to the Rocky Mountain States
by Peter Alden
ISBN 0679446818 / 9780679446811 / 0-679-44681-8
Publisher Alfred A Knopf
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If you're going to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, or Colorado (or live there already), chances are you have an affinity for nature, in which case the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Rocky Mountain States is a book you'll want to keep close at all times. A durable book meant to be consulted in the field and on the mountain, it starts off with a map of the region, and then launches into an overview of the topography and geology, the habitats and ecology, the weather patterns and cloud formations common to the Rocky Mountain region.
Part Two is the field guide proper, with brilliant photographs and pithily informative descriptions of over 1,000 of the flora and fauna to be found there, covering lichens and conifers, wildflowers and ferns, spiders and insects, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. There are vivid pictures of feral horses and mule deer, an elk cow nuzzling her calf and a male elk strutting with his antlers, and there are photos and write-ups for wolverines and mountain lions, moose, caribou, and bison. There are also wonderful pages full of whirligig beetles and margined burying beetles, hairy rove beetles and spotted tiger beetles, not to mention the jagged ambush bug and meadow spittlebug. The flora section is appealing, as well, with delicate western bog laurel and orange honeysuckle close-ups, cliff fendlerbush flowers and Pacific red elderberry, water smartweed and purple western monkshood. There's also an appendix of parks and preserves, and pages full of the constellations you can see at night with no city lights to mar the view. With a century of nature preservation under its belt, Audubon does justice to the field-guide genre. --Stephanie Gold [via]