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Deserts (National Audubon Society Nature Guides) Paperback – May 12, 1985

4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This essential guidebook to the North American deserts, one in a distinguished Audubon Society series devoted to continental biomes, contains in outline just about all the natural-history information a desert rat will need in the field. Drawing on the expertise of ornithologists, botanists, mammalogists, herpetologists, and other scientists across the country, editor James MacMahon offers an account of desert ecology, followed by life histories of characteristic flora and fauna, range maps, and illustrations. Of particular interest are MacMahon's notes on Native American uses of indigenous plants and animals. --Gregory McNamee

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A comprehensive field guide, fully illustrated with color photographs, to the wildflowers, insects, birds, reptiles and other natural wonders of North America's deserts, from Oregon to Mexico.
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Product Details

  • Series: National Audubon Society Nature Guides
  • Paperback: 638 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Chanticleer Press ed edition (May 12, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394731395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394731391
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I moved to Arizona from the Texas in 1988, I was given this guide as a gift. Now 12 years later the book is a lot more worn, but is still an indespensible part of my hiking gear. It is small in size and ruggedly bound, so is perfect for short and long hikes into the Arizona Desert. It provides a guide for plants (cacti, grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, trees) reptiles, amphibians (do not see much of these), insects, spiders, mamals, and birds. It has suscinct quarter to half page descriptions of each species (or genus)including a description, habitat, range, and interesting comments. The best part is that the color pictures are in a separate section, group by type above, with a reference to the page where a full description can be found. This is great when you are on the trail, see something and want to pull out the guide an quickly find a reference. You can either use its quick photo index (fruit hsape, bird shape) to go to a section of the photos, or more oftent go straight to the section of interest (i.e birds, etc) and quickly thumb through the pictures to find what you saw, then turn to the reference. It also has "readable: sections on each of the major US desert areas whihc you can read at leisure. The only two weak points I have found are the section on birds and references to non-desert parts of Arizona. Arizona is a major transit point for birds migrating north and south. Sometimes these "visitors" to Arizona are not listed. The Sonoran desert is also more than just flat land desert. It also incudes the "sky Island" mountains that spring up from the desert floor. This book provides a reference only so far up these "islands" and a second is really needed when hiking between the two.
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Format: Paperback
Vol. 45, #12 ....On The Desert By David L. Eppele azcactus@primenet.com Bisbee, Arizona 10-27-97 Audubon Society Nature Guide "Deserts" I'm often asked to identify a tree, shrub, bug, bird or a Cactus by telephone. The call goes something like this: "David, I read your column On The Desert each week and I enjoy it. While we were hiking in the Pelloncillo mountains this weekend, I found a little fuzzy brown and white cactus that looks like a giant golf ball, covered with hooks. I wanted to take the little plant home, but George said that's against the law. Can you tell me what kind of cactus I found and where I can buy one like it?" The plant she described is probably a small fishhook cactus named Mammillaria microcarpa. Mammillaria come in two varieties...those with straight spines, set up like a pincushion and those with a lot of small spines covering the body of the plant and larger hooked spines emerging from the tubercles. All mammillaria have showy flowers, usually arranged in a circle around the top of the plant. There are many plant nurseries specializing in Cactus & Succulents. They grow these plants from seed, by the thousands. $3 to $4 is the current market value of a 2-year-old Cactus plant in a plastic pot. Other calls don't go so well...."What's the plant with yellow flowers that I see on the roadsides?" Since there are at least 20 plants with yellow flowers that can be found growing by the side of the road in our area, I need a lot more information than the caller can give me. This brings us to the subject of books that are used as field guides. There are bird books, rock books, mammal books, tree books and even buggy-books. Cacti of The Southwest, by Hubert Earle, is probably the best cactus field guide, but what about snakes or butterflies?Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Don't be fooled by the negative review displayed here! This field guide is really great. I worked as a parks Natural Reasources employee, and part of my job was identifying every plant and animal I came across, if I could. Now, no one field guide will ever have everything you need, but good field guides contain many entries, good descriptions of likely habitats as well as the organism itself, a concentration on the plants and animals one is actually likely to find as opposed to those that are incredibly rare or not likely to be located in whatever ecosystem you bought the book for, and helpful hints with those species whose identification is notoriously difficult or easily confused. This book has it ALL, and more, such as the wide range of organisms featured, beautiful color plates, and supplementary information about deserts. If you find this book hard to use in the winter, it may be because plant identification in the winter is ALWAYS much harder than during flowering and growing seasons. This is because flowers are not only the number one organ used to identify flowering plants, they are also used extremely frequently to classify them into different species in the first place! If you want the most desert field guide for your dollar (or other monetary unit) this is definately your book.
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Format: Paperback
A must have book for anyone hiking in the desert and anyone even just interested in the desert. Packed full of info about "everything" you will find in the desert .
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By L. Wicks on December 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We saw this in AZ when we visited last year. I recorded all the information so I could order it when I got home. Great condition too.
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