Critter-watching etiquette

  • Crane and baby

    Wendy Shattil and Bob Rozinski photo
  If you've ever wondered why it's hard to see raccoons at night, or why Lassie's favorite meal didn't include broccoli, a new children's book called On the Trail of Colorado Critters can help.

"Have you ever been hiking and seen a deer? Have you heard an owl hooting at night? Does a woodpecker live in your backyard? Then you know that Colorado is full of critters," begins the book by nature writer and zoologist Mary Taylor Young. Easy-to-read language and vivid photographs by Wendy Shattil and Bob Rozinski create a nature guide that is fun, yet informative.

Young attempts to teach children proper animal-watching etiquette: "Going outdoors to see animals is like going into someone else's home. Remember to respect the animals. Never shout, throw rocks, or chase them ... If you were a critter in the forest, and someone came running down the trail, shouting and waving, what would you do? You would run away and hide! Remember that animals are shy."

The book, intended for children aged 7 to 11, focuses on the birds and mammals a beginning nature watcher is most likely to see on the trail. Detailed sections on more than 60 animals describe their physical traits, habitat, diet and where they can be found in Colorado. An ecosystem guide takes the reader from grasslands to alpine tundra, explaining how changes in elevation determine where creatures live. The book also provides maps for critter watching and a glossary of complex terms.

The 95-page paperback book is $14.95 from Westcliffe Publishers. Copies are available in bookstores and through the publisher at 800/523-3692 or

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