Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wildlife Viewing On A Comfortable Couch

The blizzard hit NJ this past Christmas weekend and I'm sure it stopped many plans to get outside. (I guess our "Warmer Planet and More Jersey Snow" post was well-timed last week!)

Luckily, there are some ways to view NJ's wildlife from the comfort of an armchair in a warm house with a nice hot drink nearby. Field guides make great winter reading and are a good way to prepare for weather that lends itself to forest and beach walks and brings out certain wildlife.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of New JerseyThe guide I would first recommend here is to Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of New Jersey. It is the only comprehensive guide to New Jersey's most imperiled species. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of New Jersey is a richly illustrated color guide to the state's seventy-three most imperiled species, from bobcats to bobolinks, shortnosed sturgeons to loggerhead turtles, frosted elfins to triangle floaters, blue whales to American burying beetles.

Written primarily by the people who know these species best, biologists, the book is divided into seven sections: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and bivalves (mussels). Each animal is discussed individually including its ecology, distribution, and population status. Sixty-four detailed maps and more than one hundred spectacular color photos provide readers with a rare glimpse of these seldom-seen species.

Next up is the Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians of New Jersey Does it surprise you that New Jersey is home to 71 species of reptiles and amphibians? The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife created this guide (and also separate companion audio CD).

 Written by David M. Golden, an ENSP Senior Biologist, and author Vicki Schwartz, the field guide contains 72 detailed descriptions of reptiles and amphibians that occur in N.J. With more than 100 full-color pictures and 72 distribution maps, this spiral-bound, 89-page guide will be useful for amateurs and experts alike.

Despite its small size, New Jersey boasts an unusually diverse population of Odonata -  damselflies and dragonflies. Some of these are fairly uncommon within the state, such as northern species that reach their southern limit in the northwest corner of the state and specialties found only in Pine Barrens habitats.

182 species found in NJ are included in this guide, both in species accounts and in a checklist at the end of the book. The plates also indicate which species are endangered, threatened, or of species concern. Introductory materials discuss New Jersey's geography, the biology of dragonflies and damselflies, and how to observe and record them. The core of the book are the species accounts, which describe how to identify each species, where and when to find it, and how common each species is, and each species plate has at least one photo, its key identification features, a map showing the counties where it has been recorded, and a timeline showing the months when it is most active.

A good starting place - especially if you are out in nature with kids - are the pocket wildlife guides. The "Pocket Guide to New Jersey Wildlife" is a pocket-sized, folding guide that is  beautifully illustrated in color with over 152 familiar species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and other insects with a map featuring prominent regional wildlife sanctuaries. It is laminated for durability when you are outdoors. There are also species specific guides available.

Some of these guides are available from select bookstores and at New Jersey Audubon centers and wildlife-oriented stores in NJ - BUT, you can do a little extra good by ordering through the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey at http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/store/books/

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