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CardinalNature Guidebooks:

National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA)









Best Book Lists

















Winners of the Nature Guidebooks Category
National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA)


The most important book award program in the outdoor field is the National Outdoor Book Awards. Past winners of the Nature Guidebook Category are listed below:


Nature Guidebook Category



Butterflies of IndianaWinner. Butterflies of Indiana:  A Field Guide.  By Jefffrey E. Belth.  Indiana University Press, Bloomington.  ISBN 9780253009555.


There’s nothing more pleasurable in the summer than to be surprised by the sudden splash of color of a butterfly.  But what is the name of that butterfly?  Jeffrey Belth can help with his new guide to butterflies of Indiana.  (The guide is also useful in most eastern and central states).  Colored tabs on the book’s edge will take you quickly to like-colored butterflies where Belth’s crisp photographs and field mark indicators help you make a final identification.  Perfectly sized for use in the outdoors, you won’t be at a loss for a name next time that flash of color flutters by.


Amazon.com:  More Information or Purchase


Crossley Guide to RaptorsHonorable Mention.  The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors.  By Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori and Brian Sullivan. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 
ISBN 9780691157405.


If you haven’t seen a Crossley bird guide, you’re in for a visual treat.  Birder and photographer Richard Crossley creates a sort of bird montage which he manipulates into an exceptionally effective identification tool.  In this guide, he starts with a dozen or more images of a raptor, showing it in a wide variety of perspectives: near and far, gliding and soaring, landing and perching.  He, then, superimposes them on a background image representing a habitat in which the raptor might be commonly found.  The result, particularly when spread across two pages, is as stunning as it is highly instructive.  Topping it off are Crossley’s two co-authors, both noted raptor authorities, who have prepared much of the text which supplements the illustrative material.


Amazon.com:  More Information or Purchase



Yellowstone & Grand Teton National ParksHonorable Mention.  The Field Guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  By Kurt F. Johnson.  Farcountry Press, Helena, MT. 
ISBN 9781560375555.


Heading to Yellowstone or the Tetons?  Planning to take along a few field guides but realize there’s only room for one?  Here’s the one to take.  Kurt Johnson’s Field Guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is compact and full of clear and colorful illustrations.  You’ll be amazed at the scope of this 244-page guide.  It literally covers it all:  plants, wildlife, insects, reptiles, birds, tracks – and, yep, even the starry skies at night.


Amazon.com:  More Information or Purchase


Guide to Southeast Coast


Winner. A Field Guide to the Southeast Coast & Gulf of Mexico.  By Noble S. Proctor and Patrick J. Lynch.  Yale University Press.  ISBN 9780300113280.


Tired of hauling around a library of guidebooks?  Here’s the alternative:  A Field Guide to the Southeast Coast.  It’s not just a guidebook.  It is several guidebooks rolled into one.  It is a bird guide.  It is a plant guide.  It is a fish guide.  It is a marine mammal guide.  This comprehensive work by Noble Proctor and Patrick Lynch includes over 600 species of flora and fauna of the Southeastern coastal regions and Gulf of Mexico.  All of this is in one compact and easy-to-navigate guide, perfect for beach goers, hikers, boaters, birders, fishers, snorkelers — and anyone who wants to leave the library at home. 


Amazon.com:  More Information or Purchase



Naturally CuriousWinner.  Naturally Curious: A Photographic Field Guide through the Fields, Woods and Marshes of New England.  By Mary Holland.  Trafalger Square Books, North Pomfret, VT.  ISBN 9781570764257


Naturally Curious is a marvelous new nature guide.  And quite naturally, it’s by Mary Holland, one of the East’s most seasoned naturalists.  She’s also something of a Renaissance woman: educator, advocate, columnist, and photographer.  In fact, all 900 color photographs in Naturally Curious are Holland’s.  What makes this guide stand out is the way it’s organized.  Starting in March, with the first signs of spring, it covers the changes in the natural world, on a month to month basis.  You can’t go wrong with this guidebook.  It’s one that you’ll use over and over—naturally.


Amazon.com:  More Information or Purchase



Tracks and SignWinner. Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species.  By Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney.  Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA  ISBN 9780811736244


Tracks and Sign is an outstanding work and a first-of-its-kind.  The purpose of this 592-page guide is to aid in identifying beetles, spiders, flies, ants, slugs, and many other invertebrates from the sign they leave behind.  Signs include egg and egg cases, droppings, secretions, webs, cocoons, coverings, galls, burrows, mounds, tracks and trails.   Included are 1,000 color photos and some 2,000 species.  It's clearly a must-have for anyone who enjoys learning more about the invertebrates.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase



Night SkyHonorable Mention.  Night Sky: A Field Guide to the Constellations.  By Jonathan Poppele.  Adventure Publications, Cambridge, MN.  ISBN 9781591932291


This is a fine guide, a perfectly portable companion for a night under the stars.  Simple and easy to use, Night Sky is intelligently laid out, focusing on one constellation at time instead of charts with a mass of stars.  The top edge of the book is tabbed with colors representing the four seasons.  Each season begins with the most easily identified constellations progressing to more difficult.  You can use one of two different methods to locate the constellation:  an overhead map or horizon chart.  All these features are finished off nicely with just the right amount of complementary text to enhance your star gazing experience.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase



MoltHonorable Mention.  Molt in North American Birds.  By Steven N. G. Howell.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.  ISBN 9780547152356


New and groundbreaking, Molt in North American Birds is a significant addition to our understanding of birds.  What is molt?  Simply stated, it is the process in which birds shed old, worn feathers and replace them with new, healthy ones.  Recognizing the signs of molt adds one more piece to the identification puzzle and more fully helps explain the life of birds.  Admittedly, this book is not for the casual avian observer, but professionals and experienced bird watchers will clearly want to add it to their reference library. 


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase




Peterson GuideWinner.  Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America.  By Roger Tory Peterson.  Houghton Mifflin Company.  Boston.  ISBN 9780618966141


The Peterson Field Guides have been around for some time, but this new edition, released in the centennial year of Peterson's birth, conveniently combines his eastern and western guidebooks into one volume.  The book includes 40 new paintings, newly rendered maps and updated text.  It's all bundled into a first class package and is most certainly the bird watcher's bible.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase



Dragon FliesHonorable Mention.  Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West.  By Dennis Paulson.  Princeton University Press.  Princeton.  ISBN 9780691122816


This is the first guidebook to all 348 species of dragonflies and damselflies found in western North America.  Nicely sized and fully illustrated, the guide is perfect for use in the field.  Almost every species is illustrated with photographs of both male and female members.  Accompanying text includes natural history tidbits, habitat, range, flight season, and the all-important structural identifiers.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase



Birds of Peru

Winner.   Birds of Peru.  By Tomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O'Neill, and Theodore A. Parker III.  Princeton University Press, Princeton.  ISBN 9780691049151.


A famous American field ornithologist once remarked that a bird watching trip to Peru was akin to a child's visit to an enormous toy store -- and with good reason.  Peru is home to nearly one-fifth of the world's total number of bird species.  There's no better way to explore the wonders of Peru's ornithological toy store than with this colorful, well-organized and comprehensive guidebook.  In all, it covers an amazing 1,792 species.  It is, quite simply, an impressive work of monumental ornithological significance


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Birds of N South AmericaWinner.  Birds of Northern South America: An Identification Guide.  By Robin Restall, Clemencia Rodner and Miguel Lentino.  Yale University Press, New Haven and A & C Black, London.  ISBN 9780300108620.


This remarkable work consists of two volumes: the first with written descriptions of the birds, and the second with color plates portraying over 2,300 species in almost every distinct plumage.  Quite simply, Birds of Northern South America is a tour de force.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


FloraWinner: Canoe Country Flora By Mark Stensaas, illustrated by Jeff Sonstegard, published by Pfeifer-Hamilton.


Canoe Country Flora covers a choice selection of trees, shrubs and wildflowers in the broad swath of territory extending from Northern Minnesota to Maine.  The author has fun with the book, taking a different tact than most identification guides.  He describes how to identify plants, of course, but he does so in a light, pleasant style and supplements the text with a fascinating study of plants' natural and cultural histories.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Cover: Snake of Florida

Winner: A Field Guide to Snakes of Florida By Alan Tennant. Published by Gulf Publishing Company.


Longtime herpetologist Alan Tennant skillfully combines scientific data with straightforward comments and observations to make this book an invaluable resource tool for identifying and appreciating Florida's remarkable snake population.  A well crafted and organized guidebook, it has understandable text and crisp, easy-to-use color photographs of every snake described in the book.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Cover: Colorado Nature AlmanacHonorable Mention: Colorado Nature Almanac

By Stephen R. Jones and Ruth Carol Cushman.  Published by Pruett Publishing Company.


Wonderfully readable and well-researched, this is a month-to-month guide to the rhythms of nature in Colorado.  It includes wildflower blooming charts, bird arrival times, a naturalist's where-to-go directory, and entertaining facts about the state's flora and fauna.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com

Cover: Scats & TracksWinner: Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains: A Field Guide to the Signs of 70 Wildlife Species


By James Halfpenny, Ph.D.  Illustrated by Todd Telander and Designed by Dana Kim-Wincapaw.  Published by Falcon Publishing. 

In this book, conveniently sized to fit in the back pocket, nationally renowned tracker, Dr. James Halfpenny helps decipher the signs left behind by mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.  The 145-page guide is a real bargain and includes clear and understandable drawings and concise descriptions of the scats, tracks and gait patterns of 70 Rocky Mountain species.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


MarineWinner: Guide to Marine Mammals & Turtles of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico  By Kate Wynne and Malia Schwartz. Illustrated by Garth Mix. Published by Rhode Island Sea Grant, University of Rhode Island


This is an extraordinarily well done and easy-to-use guidebook that will help you identify marine mammals while traveling the coastal waters of the east. Printed on water-resistant paper, it covers whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, manatee and turtles.  It's truly a model guidebook.  Each and every detail has been designed with user convenience in mind, from its organization and lay-out, to its photographs and map graphics, to its carefully researched and understandable writing. 


Not Available at Normal Internet Book Sites: More Information from Publisher


ButterfilesWinner: Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America.  By Jeffrey Glassberg.  Published by Oxford University Press, New York. 


This magnificently crafted guidebook is illustrated with vivid color photographs that set a new standard in butterfly identification.  It's a guide that can quickly grow on you.  In no time, you may find yourself hopelessly hooked--and haunting the fields and forests searching for those delicate insects that add so much color to summer afternoons.



More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Also note that there are several other books of this series:


  · Butterflies Through Binoculars: East


  · Dragonflies Through Binoculars


  · Field Guide Set (Including Caterpillars)


Honorable Mention: The Raptor Almanac:  A Comprehensive Guide to Eagles, Hawks, Falcons and Vultures.  By Scott Weidensaul.  Published by The Lyons Press, New York.


A far-reaching reference and guide to raptors, this book is for those bird-watching enthusiasts who want to go beyond the fundamentals.  Its contents include raptor evolution, behavior, courtship, nesting, migration, and more.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Lichens of North AmericaWinner. Lichens of North America.  By Irwin M. Brodo, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff and Stephen Sharnoff.  Published by Yale University Press, New Haven.  ISBN 0300082495.


When you spend time in the outdoors you'll see them: rocks with crusty patterned growths of orange and yellow, trees with dangling, wispy dark green beards, and forest floors laid with a soft, creamy, moss-like carpet.  They're lichens and this is the book to use to identify them: the first definitive guide to lichens in North America.  It's a masterpiece of imagery, text and science.  Be prepared: it's comprehensive, nearly 800 pages long, but the authors and publisher have carefully designed it to be useful to all, specialists and novices, alike. 


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Bird Tracks & Sign

Honorable Mention. Bird Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North American Species.  By Mark Elbroch and Eleanor Marks.  Published by Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.  ISBN 0811726967.


Bird Tracks & Sign is an innovative, major new contribution to the study of North American birds and is destined to become an indispensable reference.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Mammal Tracks & Sign

Winner. Mammal Tracks and Sign: A Guide to North American Species.  By Mark Elbroch.  Published by Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA. ISBN 0811726266


Mammal Tracks and Sign is one of the most thorough and complete guides to animal tracking ever published.  Going beyond where other books leave off, it combines text, drawings, maps and more than 1,000 color photos to unravel the mysteries of North American mammal tracks and signs.  Mark Elbroch has poured himself into this book, writing the text, taking the photos and preparing the drawings.  It's a monumental effort and an invaluable reference for anyone who enjoys tracking and viewing wildlife. 


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Honorable Mention. The Rockfishes of the Northeast Pacific.  By Milton S. Love, Mary Yoklavich, and Lyman Thorsteinson.  Published by University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.  ISBN 0520234383


Who says that scientists can't have a little fun?  This 400-page, well-illustrated and scrupulously scientific book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the rockfishes.  It's also a delight to read. 


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Snakes of the SE

Winner.   Snakes of the Southeast.  By Whit Gibbons and Mike Dorcas.  The University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA.  ISBN 0820326526 


Snakes of the Southeast is an eye-catching new nature guidebook melding good descriptive writing, a dapper design and strikingly crisp photographs.  The 52 species of snakes found in the southeast are fully covered:  size charts, distribution maps, key identifiers, habitat descriptions.  It's all there in one very nicely wrapped package.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Nature's StrongholdsHonorable Mention.  Nature's Strongholds: The World's Great Wildlife Reserves.  By Laura and William Riley.  Princeton University Press, Princeton.  ISBN 0691122199


This 672-page tome is a guide to some of the wildest, most wildlife-filled places on earth.  It was a massive undertaking, but writers and conservationists, Laura and William Riley were up to the task and brought it off with aplomb.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Yellowstone ExpeditionWinner.  Yellowstone Expedition Guide: The Modern Way to Explore America's Oldest National Park.  By Charissa Reid.  TravelBrains, Inc., Bedford, NH.  ISBN 1933763000


This is a state-of-the-art, technologically savvy guidebook for visitors of Yellowstone National Park.  It's packed full of beta, including information on the area's geology, its hydrothermal features, plants, animals, and hiking trails.  Topping it off are two included CD's:  one is an audio tour which can be played as you visit different parts of the park, and the other contains movies and panoramic photo tours which can be viewed on your computer.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com

  Caterpillars of Eastern North America.  By David L. Wagner.  Princeton University Press, Princeton.  ISBN # 0691121443


It's a caterpillar lover's delight:  a copiously illustrated guide to the caterpillars of nearly 700 butterflies and moths found east of the Mississippi.  Many of the caterpillars included in the volume have never been photographed.  The guide is nicely designed and easy to use with clear and crisp photographs of both the larva and adult stages.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com





End of Listing


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