Field Guide List for Eastern and Western U.S. and Canada

If you’re familiar with Peterson Field Guides, it’s safe to say you’re the outdoors type.

Sure there are other field guides for whatever critter or green plant you’d like to identify that you see in the field, but Peterson Guides are the ones we grew up with. It’s really satisfying to see these regional books being updated through the years as more knowledge becomes available.

I’ve gone on about why and how there are eastern and western forms of essentially otherwise similar species. It is meaningful to explore the terms “east” and “west”. For plants, if you want to know more, you’ll need to consult a phytogeographer. Who ever knew that was somebody’s job title?

Anyway, just for a reference here’s a list of Peterson Field Guides separated into geographic regions (with amazon links to the eastern group). It’s not a simple task to lump all field guides for North America into either East or West, as some animal and plant forms are found across the continent while others live all around the world.

Eastern Field Guides

A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, by Roger Tory Peterson, (2002) 5th edition.

A Field Guide to Bird Songs: Eastern and Central North America, by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, (1990), Audio CD.

A Field Guide to Shells of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and the West Indies, by R. Tucker Abbott and Percy A. Morris, (1995) 4th edition.

A Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies, by Paul A. Opler, (1998), 2nd edition.

A Field Guide to Wildflowers: Northeastern and North-central North America (Peterson Field Guides) Paperback – March 15, 1998, by Margaret McKenny and Roger Tory Peterson (original 1968).

A Field Guide to Ferns: Northeastern and Central North America, by Boughton Cobb, Cheryl Lowe and Elizabeth Farnsworth, (2005), 2nd edition.

A Field Guide to Eastern Trees: Eastern United States and Canada, Including the Midwest, by George A. Petrides, (1998), 2nd edition.

A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, by Roger Conant and Joseph T. Collins, (1998), 3rd edition expanded.

Eastern Birds’ Nests, by Hal H. Harrison, (1998).

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America, by Lee Allen Peterson, (1999).

A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore: Invertebrates and Seaweeds of the Atlantic Coast from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras, by Kenneth L. Gosner, (1985).

A Field Guide to Coral Reefs: Caribbean and Florida, by Eugene H. Kaplan, (1982).

Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, by David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie, (2012).

A Field Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes of North America, by Carleton Ray and C. Richard Robins, (1999).

Field Guide to Southeastern and Caribbean Seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Caribbean, by Eugene H. Kaplan, (1999), 2nd edition.

A Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America, by John C. Kricher, (1998).

More Birding By Ear: Eastern and Central North America: A Guide to Bird-song Identification, by Richard K. Walton and Robert W. Lawson, (2000), (Audio CD).

Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke, (2014), 3rd edition.

A Field Guide to Geology: Eastern North America, by David C. Roberts, (2001).

Peterson Field Guide to Feeder Birds of Eastern North America, by Roger Tory Peterson, (2000).

Western Field Guides

A Field Guide to Western Birds: A Completely New Guide to Field Marks of All Species Found in North America West of the 100th Meridian and North of Mexico by Roger Tory Peterson and Virginia Marie Peterson

Western Bird Songs (1962) by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

A Field Guide to Pacific Coast Shells, Including Shells of Hawaii and the Gulf of California, by Percy A. Morris, (1966) 2nd edition.

A Field Guide to Birds of Texas and Adjacent States, by Roger Tory Peterson, (1960).

A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians: Field Marks of All Species in Western North America, including Baja California, by Robert C. Stebbins, (1985), 2nd edition.

A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers from Northern Arizona and New Mexico to British Columbia, by John Craighead, Ray J. Davis, Frank C. Craighead, and Eduardo Salgado, (1996), 2nd edition.

A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Pacific States, by Niehaus and Ripper, (1976).

Western Birds’ Nests: The United States West of the Mississippi River (1979), by Harrison

A Field Guide to Western Birds’ Nests, by Hal H. Harrison, (2001).

A Field Guide to Pacific Coast Fishes: The Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, by William N. Eschmeyer, Earl S. Herald, Howard E. Hammann and Katherine P. Smith, (1983).

A Field Guide to Southwestern and Texas Wildflowers, by Theodore F. Niehaus, Charles L. Ripper and Virginia Savage, (1984).

A Field Guide to Western Butterflies, by Paul A. Opler and Amy Bartlett Wright, (1999), 2nd edition.

Birding by Ear: Western North America, by Richard K. Walton and Robert W. Lawson, (1999), [CD].

A Field Guide to Western Trees: Western United States and Canada, by George A. Petrides, (1992).

A Field Guide to the Ecology of Western Forests, by John C. Kricher and Gordon Morrison, (1993).

A Field Guide to California and Pacific Northwest Forests, by John C. Kricher and Gordon Morrison, (1998).

A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain and Southwest Forests, by John C. Kricher and Gordon Morrison, (1998).

North American Field Guides

North American field guides cover the entire continent? Name the countries?

A Field Guide to the Birds of North America, by Roger Tory Peterson, (2008), 6th edition.

A Field Guide to Mammals of North America, by Fiona Reid, (2006), 4th edition.

A Field Guide to the Rocks and Minerals of North America, by Frederick H. Pough and Jeffrey Scovil, (1976) 4th edition.

Animal Tracks, by Olaus J. Murie and Mark Elbroch, (2005) 3rd edition

A Field Guide to the Insects of America North of Mexico, by Donald J. Borror and Richard E. White, (1970).

Mexican Birds: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador, by Roger Tory Peterson and Edward L. Chalif, (1973).

A Field Guide to Beetles of North America, by Richard E. White, (1963).

A Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America, by Kent H. McKnight and Vera B. McKnight, (1987).

A Field Guide to the Hawks of North America, by William S. Clark and Brian K. Wheeler, (1987).

A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico, by Lawrence Page and Brooks Burr, (2011), 2nd edition.

Backyard Bird Song, by Richard K. Walton, Robert W. Lawson and Roger Tory Peterson, (1991), [CD].

A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants of North America North of Mexico, by Roger Caras and Steven Foster, (1994).

A Field Guide to Warblers of North America, by Jon Dunn, Kimball Garrett, Sue A. Tackett and Larry O. Rosche, (1997).

A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America, by Sheri L. Williamson, (2001).

A Field Guide to the North American Prairie, by Ruth Carol Cushman and Stephen R. Jones, (2004).

Peterson Reference Guide to Owls of North America and the Caribbean, by Scott Weidensaul, (2015).

Europe, Great Britain, Planet Field Guides

A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe, by Roger Tory Peterson, Guy Mountfort, P.A.D. Hollom, I.J. Ferguson-Lees and D.I.M. Wallace, (2004) 6th edition.

A Field Guide to Ferns and their Related Families: Northeastern and Central North America with a Section on Species also found in the British Isles and Western Europe, by Boughton Cobb and Laura Louise Foster, (1956). (The second edition removed the British Isles and Western Europe content to become A Field Guide to Ferns.)

A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, by Jay M. Pasachoff, Wil Tirion, Donald Howard Menzel and Ching Sung Yu (2000), 4th edition.

Birds of the Caribbean, by James Bond, (1999).

A Field Guide to the Atmosphere, by Vincent J. Schaefer and John A. Day, (1981).

Advanced Birding, by Kenn Kaufman, (1990).

Mammals of Britain and Europe, by F. H. van den Brink, (1986).


I have a shelf full of field guides that I regularly use and other reference books too when more information is desired. I live in the East but still own a couple of Western field guides.

I remember a trip to California once when I really wanted a bird guide that would show this cool looking black and white bird on stilts. No binoculars, no book to guide me, but I saw this bird that I had never seen before that was poking around the mud flats that I could see from the hotel window. When I was able to research it a little more I found out I had seen an oystercatcher. Yup, I needed a western bird book for that.

Field guide books will remain important for those of us wanting to name that bird or plant when we’re out there enjoying nature in the places many of us go that aren’t so conducive to using phone apps. If you’re wanting to disconnect for a while — and you should — pick up one of these inexpensive field guides and take it with you. Tuck your phone away and enjoy the calming effect of nature on your next walk as you contemplate the different species around you.