Top critical review
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This book is NOT a field guide
on April 19, 2011
Got my Crossley Guide to birds a while ago and thought I put a review here but apparently did not. I would NOT recomend it as a field guide. It belongs on the coffee table
The first point on the back cover says it revolutionizes FIELD GUIDE DESIGN.
1. This certainly is NOT a good field guide. Much bigger than even the large Sibley and probably weighs twice as much AND only covers the eastern birds. You are much better off carrying the big Sibley Guide to Birds or evens the two smaller eastern and western Sibley books if you live in the places like Alberta where we need both guides. You must read the text at bottom of each bird to find out the field marks - they are not marked for quick reference not even with lines to tell you where to look. If you only get a quick look at the bird you want to know where to look FAST you cannot do it with this book because the field marks are not indicated on the pictures - you must read the text under each possible bird to find out where to look. If you are trying to separate it from more than one or more other birds quickly forget it - you must read a lot of text. Some of the pictures do not show the field mark well. For example they could have done much better with the boreal owl. They mention the darker brown color - not much help in poor light. I recognize it well as a boreal owl because I have seen a lot and am very familiar with it and the saw-whet (even banded some) but would not use that with people trying to learn the birds. The picture does not show the facial pattern well enough to show all the field marks clearly and might be a problem for beginners - at least I would not use that one in class (only on a quiz when the students are more familiar with the bird)
2. Most of the photos good BUT should have been printed at better resolution. The grainy photos hinder some of the smaller pictures.
Because it has so many pictures it would work as a study guide at home though in combination with Sibley so you learn to see the field marks better. You can also find many more examples of good pictures by sitting at your computer).
3. Difficult groups need suppliment of some kind. Much better guides are available for difficult groups: Take a good look at this before you buy it to make sure it is what you need. I am rather disappointed. If I was still teaching an advanced bird identification course I would still use the big Sibley with supplimental material for difficult groups. If you want more on Hawks I suggest Clark and Wheelers Hawks in Flight or with drawings or the bigger and more detailed Western Raptor book by Wheeler with photos (covers all of NA except Florida specialities and lots of great text. If you want more on Warblers Dunn's book is excellent and has both photos and drawings. A shorebird guide with lots of photos is one by O'Brian, Crossley and Karlson.