The author divides the book into 14 chapters, categorized under three broad headings of Plants, Animals, and Habitats. Each chapter describes about a dozen patterns, and each pattern includes multiple illustrative photos.
I had already picked up some of the plant information from reading other sources, and a smaller amount of the animal and habitat information, but I learned a lot of new stuff across the board. I especially enjoyed learning about:
- "puddle clubs" of butterflies, mostly males, who gather at wet muddy spots, or carcasses, or animal excrement, or urinals, to drink up sodium, a mineral they have a hard time acquiring otherwise. In at least one species, the males offer sodium to females along with their sperm, a sweet little nuptial enticement.
- "sun and shade leaves", where trees have larger leaves towards the shaded bottom, and smaller leaves at top where sunlight strikes with more intensity. Makes sense, but I'd never noticed that!
- "leaf retention" of many oaks and beeches, where the trees hold onto dead deciduous leaves for months into the winter, possibly to keep the nutrients from leaching away all at once over the winter. Trees tend to keep leaves at the bottom more often than the top, possibly because lower leaves will more likely fall close to the trunk where the tree can easily recapture the nutrients. Right after reading this chapter I started noticing the retained leaves on the oaks at the local park.
- Wind-pollinated deciduous trees flower before they make leaves which would block the movement of air and thus pollen. Makes sense! I had noticed that all the catkin-trees have their catkins over the winter, instead of flowering with the insect-pollinated trees. Now I know why!
The book doesn't have enough hardcore details that I need to have it in my library as a reference book, but I feel very glad that I found it and read through it once. I highly recommend it to anyone at a beginner or intermediate naturalist level!