For outdoor enthusiasts on your holiday gift list, a good book is always appreciated. Here are a few recent titles that are sure to please.
• "Reserves of Strength: Pennsylvania's Natural Landscape" (Schiffer Publishing) by Michael Gadomski is a coffee table book that celebrates the natural heritage of Penn's Woods. Gadomski is a veteran naturalist and skilled photographer who has explored every corner of the state. A short caption identifies each of the 400-plus images, and often includes interesting bits of natural history. I was especially pleased to find my favorite place in Pennsylvania, Rickett's Glen State Park, featured in a number of photos. I was also pleased that I didn't find a single human in any of the photos.
• "A Passion for Grouse: The Lore and Legend of America's Premier Game Bird" (Wild River Press) edited by Thomas Pere will appeal to both hunters and birders fascinated by Pennsylvania's state bird. The 60-page opening chapter by grouse biologist R.J. Gutierrez details the ruffed grouse's life history. Subsequent chapters by a variety of writers cover everything from grouse dogs and grouse guns to the grouse of the northwoods, the Appalachians and New England. Superbly and copiously illustrated, "A Passion for Grouse" is an heirloom-quality book that will be passed down from one generation to the next.
• "Bugs Rule! An Introduction to the World of Insects" (Princeton) by Whitney Cranshaw and Richard Redak is an entomology textbook written for non-science majors. With a heavy emphasis on natural history, "Bugs Rule!" will appeal to a much broader audience than traditional entomology texts. Imagine that, a textbook that can be read for pleasure. More than 800 color photos and many informational sidebars enhance the book's readability.
• "Birds and People" (Jonathan Cape) by Mark Cocker and David Tipling is a richly illustrated tome (592 pages) that explores the historical and cultural interactions between birds and people. Humans, for example, have used bird flesh, eggs and decorative feathers since the dawn of time. Open "Birds and People" to any page and you'll be hooked for an hour.
Biologist, author, and broadcaster Scott Shalaway can be heard 8 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 WVLY-AM (Wheeling) or online at www.wvly.net. Or visit his website www.drshalaway.com or contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033.