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NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY FIELD GUIDE TO CALIFORNIA Paperback – 2002


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Paperback, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (2002)
  • ASIN: B001J8PRZK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,598,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Alden is a world renowned naturalist, lecturer, ecotourism guide and author of 15 books on North American and African wildlife, including the National Audubon Society's Regional Field Guide Series. He is considered to be an authority on birds and larger mammals of the world and is often consulted by the media and the ecotourism industry for his expertise. Peter is also a highly entertaining and widely sought after lecturer on topics that include world wildlife, the Polar regions, invasive plants and biodiversity of the northeast.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on May 29, 2000
Format: Flexibound
This is a fairly nifty one volume compendium of the trees, flowers, birds, animals, fish, insects, reptiles, geology, and even weather systems of California. I've got some fairly comprehensive books on each of those subjects, but unfortunately do not have someone to carry this library with me on field trips. What to do. Well this one book is intended to solve the problem of lowering the weight of a backpack. It goes without saying, however, that you can't condense a few thousand pages into 430 pages. Stuff is missing. Yet it is an excellent, durable little volume to carry with you into the woods or the desert, even though you will periodically become frustrated because that peculiar little beetle that you just saw isn't in it.
The book is filled with generally high quality pictures and descriptions of most of the things that you can bump into when wandering about this glorious state. What are some of its weaknesses? I found the section on trees to be difficult to use. Generally my other tree books show pictures of the whole tree, plus close-ups of its leaves, cones, and flowers. In this book you see the trunk of a red alder, the flowers of a pacific dogwood, and the leaves of a pacific willow. Heaven help you if you come upon a dogwood when it isn't flowering. The wildflower section also seems to have no organization. The flowers are not grouped by color, region or any other system that I can discern. Sometimes you question the choices made by the author in determining what to include. He certainly could have skipped the item on the common mosquito, and substituted some more interesting, and less known California insect. After all we don't want outlanders to know that we have mosquitoes here. One nice extra feature is several seasonal star maps for times when you are out at night.
All in all its well worth the money if you're going hiking and want something light to carry.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By nermal7 on August 19, 2001
Format: Flexibound
For all of you that are looking for an excellent field guide...this is the one for all of California. As a park ranger I carry this little book in my bag where ever I go. It offers very sharp and detailed photos, scientific names, family or class names, and a breif description of the subject. The best thing about this field guide is that it covers all kinds of animals, plants, trees, and sea life. It even has an overview of climates, seasons, sky charts, history, and areas of California. Even at the end of the book there is lots of information about some of the National and State parks within California. This is a great all-round basic field guide for anyone at any level. Enjoy!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By jmh on March 26, 2001
Format: Flexibound
If this book is not shoved in a back pack on a trip, taken to school, carted along on the front seat of any day trip in the car, we generally try to just keep keep track of it, because if we can't locate it when we need it, it is a sure bet there will be an uproar until it is found. This is a resource book so commonly utilized in this house of kids and out doors lovers alike, it generally never seems to leave the counter in the kitchen. There it is, available to all for school projects, night star gazing verification and an instant attraction for anyone standing around waiting for dinner.
Truly, a book that has been consulted so frequently for so many reasons, that it has replaced more cumbersome references. The reference has beautiful illustrations and offers so much more than a typical field guide book. This is a book that will be relished by California outdoor lovers, and if you like the indoors more, this is the book that will definitely beckon you out of your lazy boy chair to go wandering around this incredible play ground we call California.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 7, 2001
Format: Flexibound
Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or a weekend warrior, the Audobon's guide to California will instill an appreciation of the natural wonders of California. This easy to use guide allows even the most uninitiated to identify and learn about California's native and introduced species. The only small problem with this book is that it does not contain the small habitat maps that any of you who know Audobon Field Guides, have come to appreciate. This book along with "A Natural History of California" by Allan Schoenherr, provide a great introduction to California's diversity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert N. Fisher on May 20, 2001
Format: Flexibound
This is a tremendous resource for anyone who enjoys being outside in California. With pictures and descriptions of everything from plants, animals, and insects to fish and fungi, this book will help you identify what you are looking at, whatever it is. The format is excellent, with each section beginning with a primer on the language and common features used to describe the various species. There isn't room for much detail about any species, but this book is about breadth, not depth. Definitely a worthy companion for any walk anywhere in California.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Moon on June 24, 2009
Format: Flexibound Verified Purchase
The Audubon guide to California is very impressive for what it is trying to do, but as you might expect from its small size and low page count, it is going to fail in some areas. The book's strengths are the huge breadth of material it attempts to cover--a survey of the state's geography and ecosystems, a page with constellations, a relatively lengthy section listing (and at times describing) most of the state's parks, and of course, a section for plants, insects, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.

With so much stuffed into a tiny book, areas that need more detail (notably the plant section) miss the mark, and I've docked it a star because this particular section is at times both misleading and at some points the pictures are nearly worthless. Texts for each species (in all sections) are extremely short, but better than nothing. Even when individual entries are poor, they can still be helpful in weeding down the options.

The different 'identification sections' differ greatly in their overall quality. I found all the animal sections relatively useful, but might be because the difference between one species of lizard and another are much more obvious to me than the differences between various pine trees.

The lists of different parks is a fantastic addition and includes contact info for each. The problem is, if this is your single volume choice for the backpack, you wouldn't need it; you're already there! Better to purchase a separate volume and save the weight.

My suggestions for improvement with this guide would be to 1) dump all sections that are unnecessary (park guide, intro to geology, etc.) and focus wholly on the identification sections.
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