Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book Review: The Crossley ID Guide, Eastern Birds

There has been a lot of hype in the birding community about The Crossley ID Guide. Newly published by Princeton University Press, the ID Guide is oversized (even larger than the Sibley guide.)

Obviously, this is not the best choice to take into the field, but the book is an excellent resource to supplement any birder's library. Most of us have several field guides to use when trying to make an identification. All have different photographs or artwork to illustrate field marks, and it seems sometimes I have to pull out 3 or 4 different field guides to find the information to help me make a decision on the bird's identification. The Crossley Guide attempts to overcome this by having several pictures of the birds, with various poses, at varying distances, making it more likely you'll see some clue that fits your observation. The pictures are superimposed on a background of likely habitat. I like the fact that many of the pictures are much larger than the pictures usually seen in field guides--especially now that my eyes are getting a little older. Which leads to the text portion. Because of the size and detail of the pictures, there is little room left on the page for text. Consequently, the text size is smaller than I would like.

A couple of things I particularly liked:
- the 4-letter alpha code for each species. Some birders use these codes when texting from the field as bird names tend to be long.
- the ID tip that highlights a particular tip to identifying the species.

In the introduction, the author indicates he isn't a fan of a lot of verbiage. I personally like a little more background on the birds, but that isn't the primary function of an ID guide, so this is not a major detractor.

There is an online supplement that adds some additional information and apparently, more will be coming to the online site.

The book is a hefty $35, but well worth the investment.

Good birding!

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