IN OFFERING THIS VOLUME of “Wild Animals of North America” to members of the National Geographic Society, the Editor combines the text and illustrations of two entire numbers of the National Geographic Magazine—that of November, 1916, devoted to the Larger Mammals of North America, and that of May, 1918, in which the Smaller Mammals of our continent were described and presented pictorially.
Edward W. Nelson, the author of both articles, is one of the foremost naturalists of our time. For forty years he has been the friend and student of North America’s wild-folk. He has made his home in forest and desert, on mountain side and plain, amid the snows of Alaska and the tropic heat of Central American jungles—wherever Nature’s creatures of infinite variety were to be observed, their habits noted, and their range defined.
In the whole realm of scientists, the Geographic could not have found a writer more admirably equipped for the authorship of a book such as “Wild Animals of North America” than Mr. Nelson, for, in addition to his exceptional scientific training and his standing as Chief of the unique U. S. Biological Survey, he possesses the rare quality of the born writer, able to visualize for the reader the things which he has seen and the experiences which he has undergone in seeing them. Each of his animal biographies, of which there are 119 in this volume, is a cameo brochure—concisely and entertainingly presented, yet never deviating from scientific accuracy.
In Mr. Louis Agassiz Fuertes, the National Geographic Society has secured for Mr. Nelson the same gifted artist collaborator which it provided for Henry W. Henshaw, author of “Common Birds of Town and Country,” “The Warblers,” and “American Game Birds,” all of which were assembled in our “Book of Birds.” In the present instance Mr. Fuertes has produced a natural history gallery of paintings of the Larger and Smaller Mammals of North America which is a notable contribution to wild-animal portraiture, and the reproductions of these works of art are among the most effective and lifelike examples of color printing ever produced in this country.
Supplementing the work of Mr. Nelson and Mr. Fuertes is a series of drawings by the noted naturalist and nature-lover, Ernest Thompson Seton, showing the tracks of many of the most widely known mammals.
“Wild Animals of North America” provides in compact and permanent form a natural history for which the National Geographic Society expended $100,000 in the two issues of the Magazine in which the articles and illustrations originally appeared.