A Naturalist's Guide to Canyon Country

160 pp., 6x9", maps, color illustrations $22.95
Published by Globe Pequot Press
ISBN 1-56044-783-4

A comprehensive guide to the geology, shrubs, trees, flowers, mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and arachnids of the northern Colorado Plateau (encompasses eastern Utah, far western Colorado, and sections of northern Arizona and New Mexico). First-time visitors and seasoned desert rats will appreciate this well-organized guide with over 250 species identified. Includes over 200 black-and-white and color drawings by Gloria Brown.

"Wandering through bookstores from Moab to Zion, we kept stumbling across this beautifully illustrated, highly informative book on red rock country. A Naturalist’s Guide to Canyon Country is an indispensable component of any Southwest trip."
Best of 2006 - Gear and Trends - Desert
National Geographic Adventure - December 2005/January 2006

"When I am hiking in the desert I will take four items with me: food, water, a map, and this field guide. David Williams' book is that essential and that critical to a desert lover's experience."
Terry Tempest Williams
Author of Refuge and Coyote's Canyon

“Can you distinguish Cedar Mesa Sandstone from Wingate Sandstone? Find a hanging garden? Track a river otter? From Douglas fir to darkling beetle, and cryptobiotic soil crust to coyote, "A Naturalist’s Guide to Canyon Country" reveals the intricacies of nature in these slickrock landscapes. Whether you are a long-time resident or a first-time visitor, this engagingly written and beautifully illustrated book is a must.”
Susan J. Tweit
Author of The Great Southwest Nature Factbook


Canyon treefrog Hyla arenicolor
1 1/4 to 2 inches, prominent toe pads, skin color matches surroundings with scattered small, darker splotches

Canyon treefrogs depend upon camouflage to protect themselves from predators. They blend in so well that you can overlook them even when staring directly at them. These small batrachians rarely venture far from water during the day and usually sit motionless in cracks, under boulders or behind vegetation. They are active at night, sometimes traveling up to 200 feet from water. Breeding occurs from March to July and eggs are laid singly in quiet water. The tadpoles, which can grow to two inches, metamorphose in six to ten weeks.

Similar to most desert toads and frogs, canyon treefrogs can tolerate high temperatures and severe desiccation. A warmer body offers several benefits including increased rates of food digestion, protection against bacterial infection, and control of external parasites. Dehydration also helps control parasites. Blood sucking mites, which live on treefrogs, will leave the surface of a desiccated frog. Drawing by Gloria Brown



Velvet ant Dasymutilla spp.
1/2 to 1 inch long, females wingless, densely covered with orange, red, or yellow hairs

Most of us have been warned to not judge a book by its cover. One should not judge insects that way either. Velvet ants look like hairy, extravagantly-colored ants, which might be fun to pick up. Do not be fooled. They are actually wasps that have a particularly painful sting; one common name is "cow-killer." The orange, yellow, or red wingless females, which are encountered more often than the winged-males, are often seen scurrying across the ground. She is probably searching for other ground nesting wasps or bees, where she can deposit her eggs. When they hatch, the larva will consume their host before pupating into an adult. The females emit a peculiar squeaking when their body is pinched lightly. Needless to say, don't try this with your bare hands. Drawing by Gloria Brown

The fourth printing, which came out in January 2006, fixed several errors in the book, including the following.

Pg. 81-82 - The western pipistrelle bat illustration and the pallid bat illustration need to be switched. The bat eating the scorpion is the pallid bat.

Pg. 146 -147 - The side-blotched and the tree lizard drawings need to be switched. The lizard with the blue dot behind its right leg is the side-blotched lizard.

But a few errors remain, mostly due to changes in naming of plants and animals and dating of geologic time periods. Here they are.

pg. 7 – change “570” to “542”
pg. 7 – change “570-320 MYA” to “542-318 MYA”
pg. 11 – change “286-245 MYA” to “299-251 MYA”
pg. 12 – change “245-208 MYA” to “251-200 MYA”
pg. 13 – change "along U.S. Highway 191" to "along Utah SR-128”
pg. 13 – change “208-144 MYA” to “200-145 MYA”
pg. 17 – change “104-66 MYA” to “145-65 MYA”
pg. 18 – change “66-2 MYA” to “65-1.8 MYA”
pg. 18 – change “2 MYA” to “1.8 MYA”
pg. 31 – change “Salsola pestifer” to “Salsola tragus”
pg. 49 –change “120 million years ago” to “130 million years ago”
pg. 57 – change “Plains prickly pear” to “Central prickly pear”
pg. 58 – change “Plains prickly pear” to “Central prickly pear”
pg. 60 – change “banana” to “datil”
pg. 62 – the same change needs to be made twice – change “dwarf evening primrose” to “tufted evening primrose”
pg. 63 – last paragraph after “another datura species” please add “(D. stramonium)”
pg. 67 – “mollismus” is misspelled it should be “mollissimus”
pg. 69 - under common globemallow please change “Nelson’s globemallow” to “small-leaf globemallow”
pg. 70 – change “Gilia aggregata” to “Ipomopsis aggregata”
pg. 71 – change “annual” to “Eastwood’s” and “Wyoming” to “linearleaf”
pg. 83 – change “Eutamias” to “Tamias”
pg. 86 – change “Cynomys utahensis” to “Cynomys parvidens”
pg. 89, 90, 91, 92, 93 – Change the family name “Cricetidae” to “Muridae” for all species on these pages.
pg. 96 – change family name of western spotted skunk from “Mustelidae” to “Mephitidae”
pg. 98 – Change “Felis” to “Puma”
pg. 99 – Change “Felis” to “Lynx”
pg. 110 - change “Goshawk” to “Northern Goshawk”
pg. 114 – change “Pica pica” to “Pica hudsonii”
pg. 116 – change “Guiraea caerulea” to “Passerina caerulea”
pg. 123 – change “Chonolestes” to “Chondestes”
pg. 127 – change “Hirundo” to “Petrochelidon”
pg 130 – change “Otus” to “Megascops”
pg. 131 – change “Baeolophus griseus” to “Baeolophus ridgwayi”
pg. 145 – eliminate “cephalaflavus” from the scientific name of Desert spiny lizard
pg. 145 – new common name is “Northern Plateau Lizard” and new scientific name is “Sceloporus tristichus”
pg. 147 – new common name is “Mountain Short-Horned Lizard”
pg. 151 – change Family name of two garter snakes from “Colubridae” to “Natricidae”
pg. 154 –change species name of Great Plains Rat Snake from “Elaphe guttata emoryi” to “Elaphe emoryi”
pg. 154 – change family name of Night Snake from “Colubridae” to “Dipsadidae”
pg. 155 – change “Crotalus viridis concolor” to “Crotalus oreganus concolor”
pg. 155 – change “Crotalus viridis lutosus” to “Crotalus oreganus lutosus”
pg. 155 – change family name of rattlesnakes from “Viperidae” to “Crotalidae”
pg. 159 – change family name of Great Basin Spadefoot Toad from “Pelobatidae” to “Scaphiopodidae”
pg. 162 – change family name of Tiger Salamander from “Ambystomidae” to “Ambystomatidae”
pg. 170 – change “Stenohelmatus” to “Stenopelmatus”
pg. 170 - under darkling beetle, change Tenobrionidae to Tenebrionidae. In addition, change the opening sentence to read. "Darkling beetle is a common name given to many beetle species in the family Tenebrionidae in the United States. The majority are in the west. The most common ones in this area are in the genus Eleodes and are also known as pinacate beetles."

Updates and Improvements

Pg. 172 - Here is a list of the names of some of the species shown in the potholes drawing.

Tadpole shrimp - Triops longicaudatus
Backswimmer - Notonecta sp.
Predaceous diving beetle - Eretes sticticus
Chironomid (midgefly larvae) - Family Chironomidae
Clam shrimp - Order Conchostraca
Fairy shrimp - Branchinecta packardi (colder weather) and Streptocephalus texanus (warmer weather)
Rotifer - Class Bdelloida
Tardigrade (water bears) - Class Tardigrada
Ostracod (seed shrimp) - Class Ostracoda