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Tim Fitzharris.

Toronto, Oxford University Press, c1983.
142pp, cloth, $24.95.
ISBN 0-19-540438-6.

All Ages.
Reviewed by Grace E. Funk.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March

Amid a plethora of magnificent photography books, this one is unusual. Distinguished wildlife photographer Tim Fitzharris (The Island: A Natural History of Vancouver Island*) spent five years of patient photography from many blinds in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana, and North Dakota. He has distilled his work into a vivid collection of the grasslands, the wetlands, and the river lands of the plains. His stated purpose is to "contribute to a wider appreciation and concern for the natural treasure of our western grasslands."

An unusual organization by habitat furthers the purpose. Sparse, almost understated text links the ninety-eight varied animals and plants into ecological systems, and the photographs are arranged to reinforce the concept of interdependence. The photographs are of exceptional quality and full of lively activity. They all show animals in the wild; amazing close-ups of preening birds and glowing tree boles make us feel intimately acquainted, as no zoo or museum could ever do. Photographs of flowers and insects are enlarged. An eight-inch grasshopper looks nearly as big as the ones I remember flying against me as I walked.

Although each creature is briefly described, its habits, habitat, and ecological niche, and indexed, this is by no means a reference book. It makes no attempt to be all-inclusive. The ubiquitous meadow-lark, for instance, is missing. The cougar, generally considered to be a mountain animal, is included. Indeed, many of the species will be recognized in the inter-mountain west.

The introduction gives a brief overview of the natural history of the western plains for readers who were not fortunate to be born where the coyote calls to the great horned owl and the miller moth flits by the rose. A book to be enjoyed and appreciated, even as wildlife is.

*Reviewed vol. XII/1 January 1984 p.29.

Grace E. Funk, Harwood E. S., Vernon BC.
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