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Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest |
Guide to Life and Literature
of the Southwest
Birds and Wild Flowers
NEARLY EVERYBODY ENJOYS to an extent the singing of birds and the colors of flowers; to the majority, however, the enjoyment is casual, generalized, vague, in the same category as that derived from a short spell of prattling by a healthy baby. Individuals who study birds and native flora experience an almost daily refreshment of the spirit and growth of the intellect. For them the world is an unending Garden of Delight and a hundred-yard walk down a creek that runs through town or pasture is an exploration. Hardly anything beyond good books, good pictures and music, and good talk is so contributory to the enrichment of life as a sympathetic knowledge of the birds, wild flowers, and other native fauna and flora around us.
The books listed are dominantly scientific. Some include keys to identification. Once a person has learned to use the key for identifying botanical or ornithological species, he can spend the remainder of his life adding to his stature.
BIRDS, WILD FLOWERS AND GRASSES
The scientific literature on botany of western America is extensive. The list that follows is for laymen as much as for botanists.
BAILEY, FLORENCE MERRIAM
Birds of New Mexico, 1928. OP. Said by those who know to be at the top of all state bird books. Much on habits.
Adventures with a Texas Naturalist (1947) and Karankaway Country (1950), Doubleday, Garden City, N. Y. These are books of essays on various aspects of nature, but nowhere else can one find an equal amount of penetrating observation on chimney swifts, Inca doves, swallows, golden eagles, mockingbirds, herons, prairie chickens, whooping cranes, swifts, scissortails, and some other birds. As Bedichek writes of them they become integrated with all life.
Arizona and Its Bird Life, Bird Research Foundation, Cleveland, 1951. This beautiful, richly illustrated volume of 525 pages lives up to its title; the birds belong to the Arizona country, and with them we get pines, mesquites, cottonwoods, John Slaughter's ranch, the northward-flowing San Pedro, and many other features of the land. Herbert Brandt's Texas Bird Adventures, illustrated by George Miksch Sutton (Cleveland, 1940), is more on the Big Bend country and ranch country to the north than on birds, though birds are here.
DAWSON, WILLIAM LEON
The Birds of California, San Diego, etc., California, 1923. OP. Four magnificent volumes, full in illustrations, special observations on birds, and scientific data.
DOBIE, J. FRANK,
who is no more of an ornithologist than he is a geologist, specialized on an especially characteristic bird of the Southwest and gathered its history, habits, and folklore into a long article: "The Roadrunner in Fact and Folklore," in In the Shadow of History, Publication XV of the Texas Folklore Society, Austin, 1939. OP. "Bob More: Man and Bird Man," Southwest Review, Dallas, Vol. XXVII, No. 1 (Autumn, 1941).
NICE, MARGARET MORSE
The Birds of Oklahoma, Norman, 1931. OP. United States Biological Survey publication.
OBERHOLSER, HARRY CHURCH
The Birds of Texas in manuscript form. "A stupendous work, the greatest of its genre, by the nation's outstanding ornithologist, who has been fifty years making it." The quotation is condensed from an essay by Roy Bedichek in the Southwest Review, Dallas, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 1 (Winter, 1953). Maybe some day some man or woman with means will see the light of civilized patriotism and underwrite the publication of these great volumes. Patriotism that does not act to promote the beautiful, the true, and the good had better pipe down.
PETERSON, ROGER TORY
A Field Guide to Western Birds (1941) and A Field Guide to the Birds (birds of the eastern United States, revised 1947), Houghton Mifflin, Boston. These are standard guides for identification. The range, habits, and characteristics of each bird are summarized.
SIMMONS, GEORGE FINLEY
Birds of the Austin Region, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1925. A very thorough work, including migratory as well as nesting species.
SUTTON, GEORGE MIKSCH
Mexican Birds, illustrated with water-color and pen-and-ink drawings by the author, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1951. The main part of this handsome book is a personal narrative -- pleasant to read even by one who is not a bird man -- of discovery in Mexico. To it is appended a resume of Mexican bird life for the use of other seekers. Sutton's Birds in the Wilderness: Adventures of an Ornithologist (Macmillan, New York, 1936) contains essays on pet roadrunners, screech owls, and other congenial folk of the Big Bend of Texas. The Birds of Brewster County, Texas, in collaboration with Josselyn Van Tyne, is a publication of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1937.
Literature on this national bird is enormous. Among books I name first The Wild Turkey and Its Hunting, by Edward A. McIlhenny, New York, 1914. OP. McIlhenny was a singular man. His family settled on Avery Island, Louisiana, in 1832; he made it into a famous refuge for wild fowls. The memories of individuals of a family long established on a country estate go back several lifetimes. In two books of Negro folklore and in The Alligator's Life History, McIlhenny wrote as an inheritor. Initially, he was a hunter-naturalist, but scientific enough to publish in the Auk and the Journal of Heredity. Age, desire for knowledge, and practice in the art of living dimmed his lust for hunting and sharpened his interest in natural history. His book on the wild turkey, an extension into publishable form of a manuscript from a civilized Alabama hunter, is delightful and illuminative reading.
The Wild Turkey of Virginia, by Henry S. Mosby and Charles O. Handley, published by the Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries of Virginia, Richmond, 1943, is written from the point of view of wild life management. It contains an extensive bibliography. Less technical is The American Wild Turkey, by Henry E. Davis, Small Arms Technical Company, Georgetown, South Carolina, 1949. No strain, or subspecies, of the wild turkey is foreign to any other, but human blends in J. Stokley Ligon, naturalist, are unique. The title of his much-in-little book is History and Management of Merriam's Wild Turkey, New Mexico Game and Fish Commission, through the University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1946.
BENSON, LYMAN, and DARROW, ROBERT A.
A Manual of Southwestern Desert Trees and Shrubs, Biological Science Bulletin No. 6, University of Arizona, Tucson, 1944. A thorough work of 411 pages, richly illustrated, with general information added to scientific description.
CARR, WILLIAM HENRY
Desert Parade: A Guide to Southwestern Desert Plants and Wildlife, Viking, New York, 1947.
CLEMENTS, FREDERIC E. and EDITH S.
Rocky Mountain Flowers, H. W. Wilson, New York, 1928. Scientific description, with glossary of terms and key for identification.
COULTER, JOHN M.
Botany of Western Texas, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, 1891-94. OP. Nothing has appeared during the past sixty years to take the place of this master opus.
GEISER, SAMUEL WOOD
Horticulture and Horticulturists in Early Texas, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, 1945. Historical-scientific, more technical than the author's Naturalists of the Frontier.
JAEGER, EDMUND C.
Desert Wild Flowers, Stanford University Press, California, 1940, revised 1947. Scientific but designed for use by any intelligent inquirer.
LUNDELL, CYRUS L. and collaborators.
Flora of Texas, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, 1942- . A "monumental" work, highly technical, being published part by part.
MCKELVEY, SUSAN DELANO
Yuccas of the Southwestern United States, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1938. Definitive work in two volumes.
Range Plant Handbook
prepared by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1937. A veritable encyclopedia, illustrated.
SCHULZ, ELLEN D.
Texas Wild Flowers, Chicago, 1928. Good as a botanical guide and also for human uses; includes lore on many plants. OP. Cactus Culture, Orange Judd, New York, 1932. Now in revised edition.
SILVIUS, W. A.
Texas Grasses, published by the author, San Antonio, 1933. A monument, of 782 illustrated pages, to a lifetime's disinterested following of knowledge "like a star."
STEVENS, WILLIAM CHASE
Kansas Wild Flowers, University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, 1948. This is more than a state book, and the integration of knowledge, wisdom, and appreciation of flower life with botanical science makes it appeal to layman as well as to botanist. 463 pages, 774 illustrations. Applicable to the whole plains area.
STOCKWELL, WILLIAM PALMER, and BREAZEALE, LUCRETIA
Arizona Cacti, Biological Science Bulletin No. 1, University of Arizona, Tucson, 1933. Beautifully illustrated.
THORNBER, JOHN JAMES, and BONKER, FRANCES
The Fantastic Clan: The Cactus Family, New York, 1932. OP.
THORP, BENJAMIN CARROLL
Texas Range Grasses, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1952. A survey of 168 species of grasses, their adaptability to soils and regions, and their values for grazing. Beautifully illustrated and printed, but no index.
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Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest |
Texas Wild Flowers in Natural Colors, 1936; republished 1948 in Dallas. OP. Toward 200 flowers are pictured in colors, each in conjunction with descriptive material. The finding lists are designed to enable novices to identify flowers. A charming book.
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