Even if Kenn Kaufman were not the author of “ID Tips” in every issue of BirdWatching and one of our longest-serving contributors, we would still love his series of field guides. The Kaufman Field Guides to birds, butterflies, mammals, and insects use smart, descriptive, nontechnical text and well-chosen photos to give identification pointers that any reader can understand.
“Although the authors and editors go to great lengths to ensure that the books are accurate and complete enough to be trusted by experts,” Kaufman says on his website, “the number one goal is to make the books accessible and understandable for beginners, so that newcomers to natural history will be able to take their first steps with confidence.”
In 2012, Kaufman and his wife, Kimberly, executive director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, in northwest Ohio, took a new step in the series. The Kaufman Field Guide to Nature of New England didn’t focus on one class of animals but instead gave ID tips for a wide array of plants and animals in the region. Now they have teamed up with naturalist Jeff Sayre to produce a similar guide to the nature of the Midwest — specifically, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Many people, the authors write, “are strongly interested in a few aspects of nature but are at least mildly interested in everything else.” For those of us who already have a book or two about birds, this guide is perfect for when we need to ID wildflowers, grasses, trees, shrubs, butterflies, salamanders, and most everything else.
Kaufman Field Guide to Nature of the Midwest, by Kenn Kaufman, Jeff Sayre, and Kimberly Kaufman, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 416 pages, softcover, $20.
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