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Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign Paperback – March 24, 1999
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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A good observer of nature, walking, say, in an oak forest, may discern that some of the acorns on which he or she is treading are broken into little bits. After reading wildlife interpreter and photographer Paul Rezendes's guidebook to animal signs, that same observer will be able to tell which of those acorns have been split by human footsteps and deer hooves and which have been gnawed apart by squirrels--and by what species of squirrel. A wonderfully thorough, well-illustrated compendium, Rezendes's text covers a wide range of North American animal species, including rodents, hoofed animals, bears, raccoons, opossums, and members of the weasel, rabbit, dog, and cat families. He describes not only the signs these animals leave but also their ways of life throughout the year, and with an appropriately environmentalist purpose. "Ultimately," Rezendes writes, "tracking an animal makes us sensitive to it--a bond is formed, an intimacy develops. We begin to realize that what is happening to the animals and to the planet is actually happening to us." He's right, of course, but one need not take such a macrocosmic view of nature to take pleasure in, and learn from, this fine book. --Gregory McNamee
"If Thoreau's Concord neighbors led lives of quiet desperation, many people today rush through lives of frantic, noisy alienation. Paul Rezendes's book is about tracking, but also much more; it shows how to find your way home to the great web of life. For the woods walker, this book offers the key to a new kingdom." -- "The Boston Globe""Paul Rezendes's work reflects his commitment to living in concert with the planet and his breadth of knowledge and insight into animal tracks and sign. His book is a central resource to our environmental awareness program at Earthlands International." -- Larry Buell, Director, Earthlands International"Better than any other field guide to tracking I've seen." -- "Pittsburgh Post Gazette""This book is a step beyond a guide to tracking. The illustrations and photographs are superb, another world beyond traditional guidebooks on the subject." --" Spokane Review" "Rezendes has produced a fascinating book filled with beautiful color photographs and detailed illustrations. Hunter and hiker alike will find this book helps them to see the world of nature with a more knowing and appreciative eye."--" Albuquerque Tribune"
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Top customer reviews
the author tracks using the area as a whole, and not just the physical signs that the animal left. Now I can look at an acorn and know if a deer, red squirrel, or grey squirrel ate it.
As others have mentioned, there a photos of the bottoms of the feet of many of the animals, which aids in visualizing tracks. It covers all the basic trail patterns, and then some, but does not bog down the reader with too much esoteric information. For that, you will need Mark Elbroch's much more comprehensive Mammal Tracks and Sign, perhaps the best reference for the intermediate to advanced tracker.
While great for basic track, trail, and sign identification, the book does not contain much information about the habits, habitat, reproductive biology, etc., for the species. This is forgivable, for the most part, since it keeps the book shorter and manageable for a beginner. But, you might need a field guide or your laptop by your side while reading it. The one thing that is not forgivable is the absence of a range map for each species. Those could easily have been fit into the wide margins, without adding pages and heft to the book.
Bottom line: great for beginners when used alongside a good field guide. Does not include some of the less common trail patterns and sign, so a serious tracker will quickly grow out of this book.
Although the book does have excellent drawings and photos of individual animal tracks, very importantly it also includes illustrations and photos of the track patterns of the different mammals featured, and understanding these patterns is essential to really enjoying and being successful in ID'ing animals through tracking (learning these patterns will be most relevant and useful to those living in regions of the U.S. where there is snowfall in winter).
Complimenting the track patterns are measurements (in inches) of many different important parameters, including the size of individual tracks and lengths of stride and straddle, etc. Mr. Rezendez has obtained these through painstaking measurements in the field so that he could arrive at a max., min. and average that you can expect to encounter for the different species of mammals covered.
Also very useful is coverage of the many often subtle, yet important differences and similarities that exist between animal tracks and track patterns among mammals, both within the same and between the different families (weasels, cats, dogs, etc.).
Although the idea may put some people off, there are also measurements, notes and photos differentiating different types of mammal scat - this is also very useful info in ID'ing animals by the sign they leave behind and can be particularly helpful for the more serious tracker.
Finally, the book includes some natural history info on each animal featured, including where they build lodges and locate dens, sign they leave when feeding and during the mating season, and how to differentiate between herbivores based on the evidence they leave from browsing on vegetation.
Although I consider myself to be fairly accomplished at ID'ing animals by the sign they leave, particularly when I have a layer of snow to work with, I would not be anywhere near as advanced as I am in the art and science of tracking without this book to guide me.
The only potential drawback to Tracking and the Art of Seeing is the book's relatively large size ("7 X 10") for a field guide. That minor issue aside, whatever your interest, whether it be learning the tracks of animals in a suburban backyard or making a hobby or even a vocational pursuit of the wonderful world of animal tracking, this book is a very worthwhile investment you will enjoy and benefit from for years to come.
This purchase replaces my original book which I lost a number of years ago. I've missed it mightily, and have no excuse for not picking it up sooner.