Picks and Pans Review: The Complete Field Guide to North American Wildlife, Eastern Edition
06/08/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT
Assembled by Henry Hill Collins Jr.
The plastic cover looks and feels like leather, and the pocket-size volume has 600-plus pages describing more than 1,500 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mollusks and other creatures that live east of the Great Plains, from Quebec to Florida. Take skinks, for example: "Eastern species are ground lizards with smooth, flat polished-looking scales and short, but fast, legs. They can easily slip through a hand when picked up." Collins, a conservationist who died in 1961 leaving the basis for this since-updated work, provides four pages of skinks: five-lined, broad-headed, Great Plains, many-lined, ground, coal and prairie skink. Skinks are fascinating. So are voles. There are seven varieties listed of these cunning, mouse-like critters. The only possible complaint one could have about this handsome, well-indexed book and its companion Western edition, assembled by science writer Jay Ellis Ransom, is that most of the drawings and all the color plates are grouped, instead of dispersed through the text. They will, nonetheless, give pleasure to any wildlife lover. (Harper & Row, $12.95)