Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: The Crossley ID Guide Eastern Birds by

Hardcover, 544 pages

Published February 21st 2011 by Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691147787 (ISBN13: 9780691147789)
edition language: English
From the publisher:

This stunningly illustrated book from acclaimed birder and photographer Richard Crossley revolutionizes birding by providing the first real-life approach to identification. Whether you are a beginner, expert, or anywhere in between, The Crossley ID Guide will vastly improve your ability to identify birds.

Unlike other guides, which provide isolated individual photographs or illustrations, this is the first book to feature large, lifelike scenes for each species. These scenes--640 in all--are composed from more than 10,000 of the author's images showing birds in a wide range of views--near and far, from different angles, in various plumages and behaviors, including flight, and in the habitat in which they live. These beautiful compositions show how a bird's appearance changes with distance, and give equal emphasis to characteristics experts use to identify birds: size, structure and shape, behavior, probability, and color. This is the first book to convey all of these features visually--in a single image--and to reinforce them with accurate, concise text. Each scene provides a wealth of detailed visual information that invites and rewards careful study, but the most important identification features can be grasped instantly by anyone.

My Thoughts: Obviously, a weighty book of this size (8" x 10" x 1 3/4") is not meant to be stuck in your backpack or pocket while out bird watching but it's to be savored at home in a comfy spot.

The Crossley ID guide contains a wealth of info in the introductory pages telling you all you need to know in interpreting the data. I liked the way the cover and first few pages break the guide down into categories and sub-categories such as: waterbirds; swimming, flying and walking. Game birds, raptors and songbirds are several more categories. There are almost 200 pages alone on songbirds. Just gorgeous photos!

 Covering eastern North America and Canada, the book contains some 640 color plates showing the birds in lifelike scenes in their natural habitat, from close ups to far views. It's the way we see birds in nature. Below each plate, are the common names, scientific names of the species and th 4 letter abbreviations used commonly in bird guides. Also included is the average length of the bird.

Although there is a map with every plate showing the habitat of that particular bird, the back cover page shows a large map of the areas covered in the entire guide complete with color key. An extensive index is also included at the end of the guide.

My only quibble, and that's just me, is that I found the print to be quite small. Be sure to have your reading glasses handy. I found the book to be a lot easier to use than The National Audubon Field Guide for North American Birds that we currently use. What a wonderful gift this would make for beginner birders or for those very experienced. It is not only informative but truly a feast for the eyes.

For an interactive website you can visit here.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by PT Reviewer rewards  in exchange for my honest opinion.


  1. I'll bet it's a beautiful book. Does Eastern mean the eastern seaboard or east of the Mississippi? If it's the latter, I'd be interested in it!

  2. If the cover is an indication the illustrations look gorgeous.

    Happy New Year!

  3. oh, I need this!
    so much for my book buying moratorium.

  4. This is actually very cool! I have students and myself included that would love to browse this one.


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