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Pathfinder: Animal Reports     Printable PDF Version

Use this pathfinder to guide your written or oral report:

1. scan suggestions on how to select one of the many subjects for your report;
2. use searching the online public access catalog to find a variety of resources;
3. employ search strategies to expand or specialize your search;
4. expand to a variety of resources to enrich your report; and
5. in the case that insufficient information exists on your assigned topic, ask library staff to fill out an "Assignment Receipt" form.

Getting Started: Browse the Shelves

Browse the shelves at any branch in the Juvenile 590's, which are the Zoological Sciences. Here is how they are broken down, so you can scan the options and choose:

J590 Zoological Sciences
J591 Zoology
J592 Invertebrates (for example, protozoa, sponges and worms)
J593 protozoa (one-celled animals) and Echinoderms (for example, starfishes and sea urchins)
J594 Mollusks and Cephalopod (for example, Octopus)
J595 Crustaceans, Insects, and Spiders
J596 General Vertebrates
J597 Amphibians, Fishes, and Reptiles
J598 Birds
J599 Mammals

If prehistoric animals are an option, check in the J 560's, because J 567 dinosaurs and J 569 Prehistoric Mammals are interesting subjects

Keep in mind that if you decide on a rare or lesser-known animal, the quantity of information required by your teacher may not be available.

Narrowing Your Choice - Animal Reports

Once you have chosen a mammal, bird, amphibian, fish, reptile or other animal such as an insect or spider, a good way to make a final decision is to compare the different species in the classification you have chosen by studying them in field guides. Checking out such a guide is useful, because it contains pictures of each animal and some basic information.

  • Birds of North America Birds of North America
    Series Title: Smithsonian kids' field guides
    by Kittinger, Jo S.
    J 598.0978 KIT
    Perfect for beginners, but comprehensive enough for kids already into birds and birding, these easy-to-follow guides show you how to look for birds based on their color, size, shape, song, habitat, and behavior. Featuring over 140 species of birds pictured in over 1,000 full-color photographs, Smithsonian Kids' Field Guides Birds of North America West helps your favorite young naturalist find and identify birds found in the western part of North America in their own backyard -- or farther afield.

  • National Audubon first field guide. Fishes National Audubon first field guide. Fishes
    by Smith, C. Lavett
    J 597 SMI
    Explores the world of fishes, discussing their classification, anatomy, behavior, and habitat, and providing photographs and detailed descriptions of individual taxonomic families.

  • National Audubon Society first field guide. Amphibians National Audubon Society first field guide. Amphibians
    by Cassie, Brian
    J 597.8097 CAS
    Explores the world of amphibians, discussing their classification, anatomy, behavior, and habitat, and providing photographs and detailed descriptions of individual species.

  • National Audubon Society first field guide. Birds National Audubon Society first field guide. Birds
    by Weidensaul, Scott
    J 598.097 WEI
    An informative, visual guide to the natural science of birds as well as a field guide to over 150 species found in North America.

  • National Audubon Society first field guide. Insects National Audubon Society first field guide. Insects
    by Wilsdon, Christina
    J 595.7 WIL
    A visual guide to the natural science of insects which includes information on the ten most common orders, pollination, and life-cycles

  • National Audubon Society first field guide. Mammals National Audubon Society first field guide. Mammals
    by Grassy, John and Keene, Chuck I.
    J 599 GRA
    Explores the world of mammals, identifying their characteristics and describing individual species.

  • National Audubon Society first field guide. Reptiles National Audubon Society first field guide. Reptiles
    by Behler, John L.
    J 597.9 BEH
    Explores the world of reptiles, discussing their subspecies and races, anatomy, behavior, and habitat, and providing photographs and detailed descriptions of individual species.

  • Shorebirds Shorebirds
    Series Title: Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists
    by Latimer, Jonathan P.
    J 598.33 LAT
    A field guide to shorebirds in the air, on the water, on the ground, and in the grass, including gulls, coots, sandpipers, and egrets.

  • Snakes, Salamanders, and Lizards Snakes, Salamanders, and Lizards
    by Burns, Diane L.
    J 597.9 BUR
    A field guide introducing thirty species of snakes, salamanders, and lizards.

Search the online public catalog

After selecting an animal for your report, input its name into the search box in the library catalog. You can do a keyword search or you can select "Subject" from the dropdown if you wish to do a subject search. Enter your subject in the search box, for example "birds north america," then click on "Search." A strong list of selections will result.

If you have found results, do you know how to locate them on the shelf? Get help from library reference staff to learn how to find your results. Reference staff will show you how to decipher the computer's response, showing you where you can find the materials. Is the branch location box the same as where you are? If the status shows the item "Available," then you will be able to find it today. Note down the call number. You can get help from library reference staff to find the item on the shelf.

If the materials are not available at the branch where you are doing your research, you could ask for your selections to be brought to your most convenient branch library, so that you can more easily pick them up. You can request the material with your library card number and PIN number by clicking the green "Place Hold" checkmark next to the item listing in the catalog. You will need to log in with your library card number and PIN to place the hold. You can also get help from staff to request a hold for your items. If you need more information, you will enjoy another part of this pathfinder which will suggest other types of materials to use that will help you have a great report. Look at "Websites" and "Reference Databases" to enrich the information you are gathering.

Broaden Your Search --Animal Reports

Did your animal not show up in your search? You will read, "No results found" and "Your query did not produce any results. You could try one of the following options:
Recheck spelling
Use another name by which the animal may be known. Some animals are known by a variety of names, and your synonym might not be the one used by the database.
If in Aquabrowser, click on a suggestion in the word cloud to the left.
A whole book may not be devoted to your animal, so you may need to restate your query by using broader terms.
Check the animal encyclopedias, as they tend to have many animals that do not have a whole book devoted to them. These resources are supportive of reports.

Organizations that protect animals, research, and educate --animal reports

Important organizations that protect, research, and/or educate are listed here.

  • American Cetacean Society
    See, hear, and learn basic information about different whales and dolphins under Fact Packs -- Species fact sheets. Photography, whale and dolphin voices, and information about their physical description, diet, mating and breeding, and distribution and migration.
  • American Museum of Natural History
    See their online section called "Uncover Lizards and Snakes" and "Learn the Story of Squamates" for information about amphibians, lizards, and snakes. The American Museum of Natural History, established in 1869, is a "scientific research and education institution with collections of more than 32 millions specimens and artifacts. It has played a leading role in exploration, discovery, and theoretical advances in the natural sciences."
  • Amphibia Web
    Amphibiaweb provides access to information on amphibian biology, species descriptions, history, conservation status, photographs, and range maps. It covers the three orders of amphibians: Anurans (frogs and toads), Caudata (salamanders and newts), and Gymnophiona (caecillans, legless amphibians.) Originally, Amphibiaweb was inspired by global declines of amphibians. See "New Species" or "Search the Database" and find a variety of fun surprises such as an opportunity to listen to frog and toad calls.
  • Animal Protection Institute
    The Animal Protection Institute focuses on animals in the circus, animals in transport, exotic animals that should not be pets, international wildlife trade, pet shops, trapping and fur, and animals at zoos. This site summarizes their legal battles and the federal or state laws involved as well as legislation not yet voted into law, and its potential impact. Under Legislation and Laws, the Find Legislation search will lead to legislative body or state searchable by year.
  • Audubon Canyon Ranch
    Audubon Canyon Ranch engages in nature education and conservation research to "inspire children and families to appreciate and protect our natural heritage." It consists of three preserves: Boninas Lagoon, Bouverie, and Cypress Grove Research Center. The site contains a bulletin and "The Ardeid: Conservation Science and Habitat protection at Audubon Canyon Road," which contains information about water birds, in particular herons and egrets, as well as conservation subjects. Their Bulletin has lists of service and class activities that support the preserves and educate the public.
  • Bat Conservation International
    Bat Conservation International provides an introduction to bat behavior, anatomy, navigation, and migration with 26 species profiles with photographs, special features, diet, and a distribution map.
  • Breeds of Livestock
    From the Department of Animal Science at the Oklahoma State University, Breeds of Livestock span: cattle, goats, horses, poultry (found in the other category,) sheep, swine, and other lesser well known livestock such as buffalo, camels, donkeys, llamas, reindeer, and yaks. Photography of various degrees of clarity, physical description, and origins assist the report writer. Definitely not a one-stop source, yet provides hard to find information about some of the lesser-known breeds.
  • California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators
    The California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators (CCWR), formed in 1993, works to promote standards of animal care in wildlife by providing educational and network opportunities among wildlife rehabilitators and regulatory agencies. It works to promote these high standards of animal care in wildlife by providing educational and networking opportunities among both wildlife rehabilitators and regulatory agencies. There are many useful links to agencies that are knowledgeable about animal life throughout California.
  • Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition CWAPC
    "The Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition works to end exploitation and suffering of wild animals in captivity. By influencing public policy on possession, use, and trade, the Coalition seeks to improve animal welfare while working to end possession of wild animals as 'pets.'" The CWAPC site lists proposed federal and state legislation with the links to them, and it has downloadable fact sheets.
  • Defenders of Wildlife
    Organized by North and South American, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Australia, Arctic, and Antarctic, these sections list endangered animals with fast facts about thier physical features, diet, population, range (with a simple downloadable map,) and behavior.
  • Elkhorn Slough
    Search under "Slough Life" and browse amongst the listed birds, fish, invertebrates, insects, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Scientifc names, physical descriptions, habitats, social behavior, diet, and special adaptations are explored. Find the bobcat, California Sea Lion, Harbor Seal, Mountain Lion, and Sea Otter in the mammal group, five types of invertebrates, three fish including the Bat Ray, Leopard Shark, and Top Smelt and other native animals for the animal report. Elkhorn Slough staff schedule educational workshops about their featured animals, which a student could follow up on, usually in the summer.
  • International Bird Rescue Research Center IBRRC
    Located in Cordelia and San Pedro, California, their mission is to mitigate human impact on aquatic birds and other wildlife. This is achieved through rehabilitation, emergency response, education, research, planning and training. IBRRC are consultants and trainers for the petroleum industry, local, state, and federal Fish and Wildlife agencies, wildlife rehabilitators and researchers. Federal and state permits grant IBRRC permission to work with wild birds in captivity. IBRRC is a non-profit 501-c-3 organization. Noted for caring for animals subjected to oil spills, the IBRRC is part of The Oiled Wildlife Care Network and operate wildlife hospitals. Specialized content on the website under "Birds in Focus" is a clickable list of native birds with physical descriptions, habitats data, mating habits, and more. Another section called "Safe Bird Handling" has expert advice on what to do should a bird be in need of help.
  • Lindsay Wildlife Museum
    See the wildlife hospital section that suggests how to handle orphaned or injured mammals, birds, and reptiles. The Lindsay Wildlife Museum site provides a unique insight about animals admitted to their hospital: click on a case study and then on the personal history of the animal you are interested in. It contains information about the care and release of mammals and reptiles who have been referred to the museum or their aquatic bird rehabilitation partners, the International Bird Rescue Research Center IBRRC. Founded in Walnut Creek in 1955, "Lindsay Wildlife Museum is a unique natural history and environmental education center where live, wild animals are just inches away. Visitors can listen to the cry of a red tailed hawk, go eye-to-eye with a gray fox and watch a bald eagle eat lunch. More than 50 species of live, non-releasable, native California animals are on exhibit. The museum's programs connect people with wildlife to inspire responsibility and respect. The museum houses a hands-on discovery room for children, a pet education section with small domestic animals and changing natural history and art exhibits. The on-site wildlife rehabilitation center is one of the oldest and largest wildlife hospitals in the United States, treating nearly 6,000 injured or orphaned wild animals each year." Lindsay Wildlife Museum cares for all other species of native wildlife including raptors, passerines, terrestrial mammals, and reptiles.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    "The mission of the non-profit Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) is to inspire conservation of the oceans." Located in Monterey, California on the old Cannery Row sardine factory site, and is situated within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which is a Federally-protected area. MBA is one of the largest aquariums in the world with more than 35,000 plants and more than 623 animal species. The exhibits are notable and well worth visiting, for example, a thirty-three foot high tank of California coastal marine life with living California Giant Kelp in motion with a wave machine which keeps the Kelp healthy. Sunlight streams in along with seawater. There are many exhibits of native marine species. One could see the exhibits online, so look at the Animals and Activities section and click on podcasts, videos, and webcams. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is dedicated to education and research. Its website contains a fun and learning section with games and activities and explorer journals as well as maintains a close relationship with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), renowned worldwide for its research on deep-sea marine life and other programs in marine biology. The aquarium is also home to Seafood Watch, which publishes consumer guides for responsible seafood purchasing.
  • Mount Diablo Interpretive Association
    "Mount Diablo State Park is one of the ecological treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area: beautiful wildflowers, extensive trail system, fascinating wildlife and distinctive rock formations. View the stars from its lofty heights, bike ride to its 3,849 foot summit or explore the more remote trails by horseback. The educational arm of the park is the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, a non-profit volunteer organization which assists the California Department of Parks and Recreation in maintaining and interpreting Mt. Diablo State Park for its 700,000 visitors each year. Through a continuing program of education, MDIA fosters appreciation and the enlightened use of Mount Diablo State Park." For useful information, look under the sidebar under "Nature" and "Wildlife" for short surveys, reports, and photography projects about Toads, Coyotes, Dragonflies, Damselflies, Coyote, Tarantulas, Spiders, Mammals, Mountain Lions, Red-tailed Hawk, Butterflies, Birds, Whipsnakes, Rattlesnakes, and Ladybugs with useful links.
  • National Wildlife Refuge System
    The National wildlife Refuge System is managed by U. S. Fish and Wildlife service, a system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife, and plants. There are articles about endangered species, and a newsletter about animal conservation efforts. To find a refuge, there is a searchable database organized by State, and a special calendar of events organized by category and state enabling a student to schedule him/herself with enriching experiences.
  • Native Animal Rescue of Santa Cruz County
    Native Animal Rescue is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife. The organization works to increase human understanding and respect for wildlife and their habitats. In addition to working directly with animals and birds, they work closely with veterinarians and wildlife management professionals to medically treat and rehabilitate injured, sick, orphaned and oiled wildlife.
  • Oakland Zoo
    The mission of the Oakland Zoo is to "inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world, while providing a visitor experience." On the top bar look under Animal, information about Birds, Amphibians, Arthropods, Reptiles, and Mammals. Descriptions of the animals, their geographic range and habitat, diet, life cycles, social structure and endangered status are listed with a photograph, if available.
  • Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley
    "Founded in 1993, the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley is a 501(c)3 non-profit licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game. They care for injured and distressed wildlife and strive to provide high quality care and rehabilitation of injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife within the Silicon Valley Community. Through educational programs, they foster a positive coexistence between the general public and wildlife, and encourage an interest in, and concern for wildlife conservation issues." Articles about the native animals include a brief discussion of common problems, solutions, and interesting FAQs about local wildlife.
  • World Wildlife Fund
    WWF website is a good place to discover what conservation efforts for flagship endangered species have been undertaken and to read the history of their endangered status. A flagship species is one selected to represent selected key threats to survival.

Databases -- Animal Reports

Check out some of Santa Cruz Public Libraries' Databases for articles, photographs, maps, controversy, and other useful information for your report

(Library card and PIN required from home or school)

  • Opposing Viewpoints in Context (Gale Cengage)
    A full-text database that covers multiple sides of current social issues such as immigration, abortion, drugs and capital punishment. Students can search through viewpoint essays, articles, reference sources, websites, academic journals, and statistics to find information for reports and papers. Includes video, audio streams and podcasts, interactive maps, national and global news sources updated daily, interactive maps, image gallery

Animal Encyclopedias -- Animal Reports

Animal encyclopedias contain detailed information about an animal and its way of life, gathered by scientists and adventurers.

  • Aquatic Life of the World Aquatic Life of the World
    by Trevor, Day
    JR 578.76 AQU
    Water, the most abundant substance on Earth, supports a phenomenal array of life. In the 11-volume Aquatic Life of the World, every major aquatic organism is covered as well as a multitude of lesser-known and rare life-forms. This set reveals not only water-dwelling plants and animals but also the algae and bacteria that constitute the crucial first links in the food chain. The health and survival of aquatic life and its environment are deeply connected to our own health and survival and are increasingly influenced by human behavior. This connection makes gaining an understanding of aquatic life a critical facet of education. The highly informative articles in these volumes reveal the various aquatic habitats, as well as the adaptations by organisms that have resulted in amazing biological diversity in the oceans, lakes and rivers of our planet: v. 1. Abalone-Barracuda; v. 2. Bass-conservation; v. 3. Continental shelf-Fiddler crab; v. 4. Fin whale-Hydrothermal vent; v. 5. Iceberg-Manatee and dugong; v. 6. Mangrove-Ocean history; v. 7. Oceanography-Puffin; v. 8. Remora-Sea otter; v. 9. Sea pen-Swordfish; v. 10. Tarpon-Wrasse; and v. 11. Index.

  • Encyclopedia of Mammals Encyclopedia of Mammals
    by Andrew, Brown
    JR 599.003 ENC
    Detailed articles cover the history, anatomy, feeding habits, social structure, reproduction, territory, and current status of ninety-five mammals around the world.

  • Endangered Species Endangered Species
    by Rob, Nagel
    JR 333.9542 NAG
    v. 1. Mammals -- v. 2. Birds, reptiles, insects, and arachnids -- v. 3. Fish, amphibians, molluscs, crustaceans, and plants. Entries on 200 extinct, endangered, vulnerable, and threatened animals and plants describe the individual species, its habitat and current distribution, and efforts to protect and preserve it.

  • International Wildlife Encyclopedia International Wildlife Encyclopedia
    by Burton, Robert
    JR 590.3 INT
    Edition of a 22-volume reference that offers coverage of thousands of species of wildlife, from amoebas to zebras, for middle school students and above. Arranged alphabetically by each animal's commonly used English name, the approximately 1,200 articles discuss the appearance and behavior of species from every branch of the animal world and all regions of the earth's landmasses and oceans, paying special attention to the taxonomic relations and systematic naming of species. Fact files provide easy-to-read summaries of important information, and numerous color maps and illustrations support the text: v. 1. Aardvark - barnacle goose; v. 2. Barn owl - Brow-antlered deer; v. 3. Brown bear - cheetah; v. 4. Chickaree - crabs; v. 5. Crab spider - ducks and geese; v. 6. Dugong - flounder; v. 7. Flowerpecker - golden mole; v. 8. Golden oriole - hartebeest; v. 9. Harvesting ant - jackal; v. 10. Jackdaw - lemur; v. 11. Leopard - marten; v. 12. Martial eagle - needlefish; v. 13. Newt - paradise fish; v. 14. Paradoxical frog - poorwill; v. 15. Porbeagle - rice rat; v. 16. Rifleman - sea slug; v. 17. Sea snake - sole; v. 18. Solenodon - swan; v. 19. Sweetfish - tree snake; v. 20. Tree squirrel - water spider; v. 21. Water vole - zorille; and v. 22. Index volume.

Strengthen your report-- Animal Reports

You have the basic information, but do you want to expand on your subjects? Scan what information you have gathered and choose the section in your report that you want to expand or deepen.

Browse Juvenile Bibliographies on Aqua Browser by inputting the Bibliography's title and then look under "Refine'"and "Source" to click on "Library Website:" To develop an understanding of the professionals who study or work with animals, see Biographies Outside of the J Biography Area" and to pinpoint materials about local animals, see the "California Natural History" bibliography.

Search "Biotic Communities" as your subject search, or you can input the ecological community specifically, so that you can learn more about where your animal lives: Desserts; Forests (Temperate and Tropical); Grasslands (Temperate and Tropical); Lakes and Rivers; Mountains; Oceans; Taiga;
Tundra; and Wetlands.

Other subjects for your animal report: Animal communication; animal intelligence; animal life cycles; animal rights, endangered species (for even more information on endangered species, look on the library website, http://santacruzpl.org and click on "Local Information" and click on the Endangered Species section,) food chains, hibernation, metamorphosis, migration, nature conservation, and rare animals.

  • A Living Bay : the underwater world of Monterey Bay A Living Bay : the underwater world of Monterey Bay
    by Langstroth, Lovell
    J 577.7432 LAN
    "With more than two hundred color photographs and an accessible text, this book provides a picture of the rich underwater world of Moneterey Bay." "A Living Bay describes the complex biological interactions among many of the marine plants and animals of Monterey Bay, including its sea-weeds, seagrasses, invertebrates, marine mammals, fish, and birds." "A Living Bay will appeal to marine and nature enthusiasts in general, as well as to those visiting or diving in the Monterey area. The sophisticated text will also make this book an essential reference for marine biologists and anyone fascinated by this amazing underwater world."

  • Animal Anatomy on File Animal Anatomy on File
    by Diagram, Group
    JR 591.4 An
    Diagrams depict the anatomy of various animals, from the lower groups such as the sponge and flatworm to birds and mammals. It contains: internal structures, external forms, digestive and excretory systems, reproductive and nervous systems, muscle systems circulatory systems, respiratory system, and skeletons.

  • Pacific Coast Pacific Coast
    by McConnaughey, Bayard Harlo
    J 574.5263 MCC
    Natural history, coastal ecology, animal identification

Step to take if there is insufficient information for your report-- Animal Reports


researched the collection,
hunted the internet,
searched the databases,
worked through encyclopedias,
scanned numerous indexes following up leads in order to amass information,
received library reference staff assistance,
determined that no source has been overlooked, and
discovered there is insufficient information that exists in the public library for a successful report,

Our library staff will inform the instructor of your class concerning your great efforts to work on your assignment. We may indicate that

"All circulating material is in use because of large student and /or public demand;"
"Reasonable search failed to locate suitable materials;" and
"The assignment deadline does not allow time for interlibrary loan."

CONFIDENTLY ASK LIBRARY REFERENCE STAFF FOR HELP. For elementary, junior high, and high school student, in the public or school library setting, there are reasons why there is not enough information for every subject that can be conceived:

Insufficient research has been produced on the subject.
There may be doctoral dissertations or one line in a master's thesis, expensive to purchase and no written at an accessible grade level, or including the required content.
Publishers may believe that not enough profit will result from creating the subject in book form
The subject is too obscure at this time.


The last line on this form asks the instructor, "What sources do you recommend to fulfill this assignment?" If the instructor replies with strong available suggestions, the selectors of the materials for the juvenile collection will sincerely check to see if the titles meet our excellent selection criteria and if the material is currently in print, so that we can make can develop another subject for your use.