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Nature takes a surprising turn in the heart of Texas. The flat Gulf Coastal Plains, which become the fertile Blackland Prairies in Central Texas, end abruptly at the Balcones Escarpment, one of the state's most dramatic geological features, and the rolling, more sparsely vegetated Hill Country begins. The animal life varies as dramatically as the land. More than 400 species of birds alone, nearly three-fourths of all Texas birds, can be spotted in the region. Birds and Other Wildlife of South Central Texas: A Handbook offers a concise natural history of Central Texas and a complete checklist of all native and naturalized vertebrate animals, including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, as well as invertebrates that include butterflies and land snails. The listings cite both scientific and common names for each species, relative abundance in the region, and preferred habitats. A distinguishing feature of the handbook is its list of parks and recreational areas in the region, which includes the counties of Bastrop, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Comal, Fayette, Gillespie, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall, Lee, Llano, Milam, Travis, and Williamson. The authors describe the recreational facilities available in each park and list the animal species likely to be encountered there. For birdwatchers, naturalists, visitors, and residents alike, this popular handbook will be the essential "where-to-find-it" reference.
Edward A. Kutac (1922–2009) was a past president of the Travis Audubon Society and the Texas Ornithological Society. He taught bird identification in Central Texas for many years.
S. Christopher Caran owns a geological and environmental consulting firm and has been an instructor and research geologist at the University of Texas at Austin.