THE NATURALIST'S NOTEBOOK by Nathaniel Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich is a guide to being a better observer of nature in every season, with a 5-year blank calendar-journal at the back to call your own.
SPIDERS AND THEIR KIN is a tiny treasure, a little book that will get you understanding and appreciating these incredibly important creatures, and even beginning to ID the major groups. Best $7ish ever spent.
PETERSON GUIDE TO WOODPECKERS: Learn from a longtime conservationist and woodpecker expert why most species are mainly black and white, and how they evolved to withstand all that hammering and much more, plus in-depth species profiles.
COMMON SPIDERS OF NORTH AMERICA: Want to get really serious about spiders? This is the book, richly illustrated and packed with learning: ID hints, native ranges, even behavioral insights into different species.
BETTER BIRDING: Not a field guide, but a science-heavy guide to how pros observe birds using contextual cues, from senior staffers of eBird.org and American Birding Association. Includes raptors; sea, water and shorebirds; birds of the woodland edge; etc. Science-heavy.
I WATCHED A ZOOM lecture the other day that really put into words a lot of the ways my own deepening understanding of ecology is shaking up the way I practice horticulture—from spring cleanup, right on to the last chore of the active year. The lecturer was Rebecca McMackin, director of horticulture for Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, where she leads the team that manages 85 acres of diverse parkland with a central focus on habitat creation of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows to build soils and support birds, butterflies, and other organisms.
We talked about the dynamic tactics they use and when and why–a whole different approach to spring cleanup, where the life cycles of animals (from insects on up) dictate what happens when, garden maintenance-wise. Like why some things don’t get cut back, and others that are still seed-laden when they do have their seeds collected and set aside, then returned to the spot after whatever cleanup is needed there.