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Biggest Twitch
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The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors

An exciting new way to look at raptor identification

When we were invited to review the latest addition to the Crossley ID Guide series, we couldn't wait for the finished book to land on the doormat to take a look. And it didn't disappoint! Here's The Biggest Twitch official review on this new guide to American raptors:

Crossley ID Guide Cover

Any field guide that starts by recommending that you sit down to read it with a glass of wine is clearly taking an original approach. And that is certainly the case with this latest addition to the series of Crossley ID Guides.

These lavishly illustrated full colour guides by Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori and Brian Sullivan take a revolutionary approach to bird identification. Gone are the pages of artists illustrations of bird species in fairly rigid poses set against a white background. Instead this book is packed with colour photographs of each species taken in a variety of poses on land and in flight, in different plumages and in various sizes to give a real sense of perspective. These bird images are then superimposed on a backdrop photograph of a suitable landscape to suggest just how you really might see the bird in the field.

Crossley ID Guide Osprey single page Crossley ID Guide Osprey single 2

Pages one and two on Ospreys

This does take a bit of getting used to. At first glance, such a profusion of images can be a bit overwhelming, but after you’ve taken a couple of sips of wine, you quickly become used to it. Succinct and helpful text about the particular raptor featured on each page guides you through the images presented to you and encourages you to take your time and familiarise yourself with each species in turn in a range of positions and distances, ages and plumages, which you are likely to encounter when you are out birding. Raptors are particularly tricky species to get to grips with as views of them in the field can often be distant or looking directly into the sun. However this approach of concentrating on a single raptor species and presenting it with so many different aspects, means that the reader has the chance to really familiarise themselves with one species at a time before moving on to the next.

Crossley ID Guide Osprey 2 page spread

Osprey two-page spread

Once you’ve absorbed each of single sections, the Crossley Guide then sets you the challenge of identifying a collection of raptors presented together on a double-page spread. Purists may claim it is an unrealistic exercise to show so many of these species together in a single view. But we think this is like having a year’s worth of amazing raptor encounters all rolled into one, and gives the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast different raptor species with a realistic view of each. And how wonderful, you don’t even have to put down your glass of wine! And in case you’re still unsure of the ID, the answers at the back of the book.

Crossley ID Guide Mixed Raptor spread

Test your raptor ID skills!

Between the photographs and the answers is a section on each species providing information on its flight style, dimensions, plumages and moult, confusion species, status and distribution, migration routes and vocalisations. Again this text is written in an engaging and accessible style, conveying factual information in an interesting way which encourages the reader to learn more.

Richard Crossley

Richard Crossley

All in all this makes the book a really handy tutorial to each species in turn and an excellent source of reference to return to again and again. We’re not suggesting that anyone should throw away their classic field guide, but the Crossley ID Guide complements it perfectly and makes a brilliant addition to any bookshelf. It challenges convention, it makes you want to learn more and it inspires you to get out and look at more birds. And in our book, that’s a great achievement!

Crossley ID Guide 2 page spread

American Kestrel two-page spread


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