Review – The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors

By now I am sure most birders have seen the Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, with its unique plates loaded with color photographs of birds set against natural backgrounds. No other field guide to birds is as interactive and innovative; allowing the reader to study each species in multiple plumages, at various distances, and in multiple lighting conditions. As Crossley states, birders who carefully study the pages of his guide are ‘subconsciously absorbing’ little details, similar to how they would when actually out birding. This method works especially well for the raptors which are usually seen flying at frustrating distances and oftentimes as dark silhouettes. When I heard there were plans for a Crossley ID Guide to Raptors, I was excited – this would give beginner birders the chance to see birds of prey in a way that has never been displayed in a field guide before, really opening the door to a group of birds that people easily become discouraged with identifying.

For the Crossley ID Guide: Raptors (which will be available for sale in April), Richard Crossley teamed up with two of America’s top raptor experts – Brian Sullivan and Jerry Ligouri. I received a review copy from Princeton University Press and was very pleased with the outcome – Crossley’s helpful text combined with hundreds of photos by all three contributors make this new guide a must-have for any birder looking to learn more about basic raptor identification or for the veteran hawkwatcher to keep their ID skills up to par during the ‘off-season’.

The Red-tailed Hawk plate from the new Crossley ID Guide: Raptors

The Red-tailed Hawk plate from the new Crossley ID Guide: Raptors

This guide contains 101 color plates of all of North America’s diurnal raptor species and includes 34 color distribution maps. The first half of this book contains species specific plates, showing each raptor species similar to how they are displayed in the full Eastern Birds guide but with many more photos and in some cases, full double-page spreads. My personal favorite plate is a double-page spread of a Snail Kite swooping in to grab a snail!. In the next section of the book, Crossley displays multi-species plates showing similar species together with detailed descriptions of how to separate them in the field. Perhaps the best portion of the book are the mystery species plates which allow the reader to put what they have learned to the test, followed by very helpful and detailed explanations on how to ID each individual raptor shown. The last section of the book contains detailed species accounts with more identification tips and a plethora of useful information.

The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors is a great addition to any birder’s library, and myself and the other Nemesis Birders highly recommend it especially for beginner birders looking to increase their raptor ID skills. I should also add that this guide is much smaller and more field-friendly than the Eastern Birds guide, weighing half as much! I hope you are looking forward to reading through the book yourself, and once you do, please let me know your thoughts on it! In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the Raptor Blog Tour which will be running until March 22nd.

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