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Book Review

Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West
A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America

By Jeffrey Glassberg

Reviewed by Dave Hallock.

The increased interest and knowledge about butterflies has led to several new field guides. Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West, by Jeffrey Glassberg, is very useful for both beginning and advanced watchers of these colorful insects. Glassberg is a firm believer in using binoculars rather than netting to identify and view butterflies. To help with this, he has produced a field guide that is well-organized, easy to use, with images from high-quality photographs.

Compared to the new Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, Glassberg's field guide is easier to use. All information about each butterfly is found on two opposite pages, including photographs, range maps, and information on identifying field marks, habitat, abundance, and food. Until one gets to know what should be in their neighborhood, having range maps on the same page is a big help. Each set of opposite pages contains information on 3-5 closely related species. In helping to identify species, I prefer the photographs in Glassberg's field guide to the illustrations in the Peterson book. And the author took all but 54 of the 1,136 photographs used in the book. Other general information can be found in the book. There are sections on how to identify and find butterflies, biology, gardening, photography, and conservation.

A key to identifying butterflies with binoculars is having close-focusing binoculars. They allow you to see objects as close as 5 to 7 feet away, but are still fine for mid and far distances. For me, the advantage of binoculars over netting is the relationship with the butterfly. You are seeing it on its terms, while it goes about its normal behavior. It also feels less invasive, and there is less of a chance of harassment or damage to the butterfly.


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