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Article in: Book Reviews
March 14, 2011

A New Birder Review of The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds

We’ve reviewed a LOT of books (this is our 82nd!) including numerous identification (field) guides. We even created a “Guide to Birding Field Guides” (over a year ago!). The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds stands out and not just because of its size.

There has been a lot of buzz around this new guide including thoughts on if it is better suited for experienced birders, new birders, or even non-birders (or what we like to call “future birders”). Thus, Eddie and Stacia, who is a new birder, decided to co-review the Crossley ID Guide.

Weighing in at 3.55 pounds and measuring 8″ W, 10.3″ H, and 1.7″ D the Crossley is huge! This isn’t a true “field” guide but is an “ID” guide. It is best suited for learning the birds.

Crossley on my bookshelf at work

Initial General Thoughts

Eddie: Wow! When I first heard about this guide I knew I had to have it. I didn’t realize it would be so massive in size but to include the dramatic scenes of birds it needed to be. Everyone I’ve shown the book to has instantly wanted to dive right in and page through it. Some of the scenes are crowded but the overall visual appeal is breathtaking.

Stacia: I agree with Eddie that at first glance you want to open this guide and not put it down. The Crossley is captivating and I could sit with it for a long time just paging through. The use of photos adds to this appeal greatly.

Usefulness as a Birding Study Tool

Eddie: The Crossley is a great study tool. I had taught myself the wood warblers by paging through (in an older guide, years ago) over and over again to differentiate the many varieties. The Crossley beckons the reader to observe the scenes and better familiarize themselves with the bird and the habitat.

Stacia: As a new birder I love that the Crossley shows the bird from so many different angles. This has helped greatly out in the field because I know to look for different positions of the birds. Plus, the habitat scenes bring the whole bird identification picture together.

Snow Buntings . . . and lots of them!

Photographic Scenes

E: The large, beautiful, and active scenes filled with birds are of course the main draw to the Crossley ID Guide. Overall, they are awesome. Some are a bit too crowded or “busy” and the backdrops can be a bit distracting (see the cows mixed with White-crowned Sparrows below).

S: I don’t mind the “busy”ness at all. I wish more of the birds were marked as juvenile, female, adult, etc. as it seems that not all were clearly marked in the scenes. Again, the use of habitat backgrounds and a wide range of angles and distances makes this guide amazing!

White-crowned Sparrow

Parting Thoughts

S: All around I think the Crossley is a beautiful book. I love the use of the front index of bird “icons” that allows me to quickly find a bird. The guide is lacking a bit in text but the limited space is well utilized.

E: I really love this book. It may not be perfect for everyone but it is magnetic: it draws everyone to it with its energetic scenes of birds. Like Stacia said the text is fairly sparse plus the range maps are small but that is necessarily so to make room for the scenes.

I used the guide to show my dad the differences between Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings. He had been looking through a different guide but when he saw the Crossley he could see much clearer that the birds we were observing were definitely Cedars.

Waxwing comparison

We had a copy of this new guide sent to the Illinois Young Birder Club. We will try to get their collective opinion on what they think of it. I’m certain it will be well received.

Peregrine Falcon and Merlin pages

Disclaimer: We received a free copy of this book from the publisher to review on birdfreak.com.

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