"Owls Aren't Wise and Bats Aren't Blind: A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies About Wildlife," by Warner Shedd (Harmony Books, 322 pages, $23)
Gray squirrels can't remember where they bury nuts. Beavers, for all their engineering ability, fell trees -- but they cannot control which way they fall. Raccoons are not only vicious predators, but are filthy in their eating habits. And on and on goes Shedd's marvelously entertaining and impressively scholarly explosion of vast amounts of sentimental mythology about wild things. The book goes far beyond refutation; it's crammed with scientifically impeccable detail about both familiar and mysterious beasts and birds. Anyone with a yen for understanding the fauna of the neighborhood and beyond will find delights here.