Not long after The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds was first published back in March of 2011, enthusiastic early adopters of its revolutionary new visual learning method for mastering the art of field identification began asking “When is the next volume going to be published and what’s it going to cover?” As of April 2013, both of these questions were answered with the publication of The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors.

Covering thirty-four species of raptors found in North America north of the U.S. – Mexico border, this new Crossley guide builds upon the same core structure of digitally composed photographic montages of all the included species. To this has been added significantly more extensive educational material than was included in the original Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (or, in truth, could have been given the space limitations versus the large number of species covered by that guide). For example, detailed accounts, complete with range maps, for each included species have been written specifically for this new guide by noted North American raptor authorities Jerry Liguori and Brian Sullivan and are included following the photographic plates.

Also included are a number of quiz pages composed of multiple species with which readers may test and further hone their identification skills. Of particular note is the fact that Mr. Crossley has included plates in which birds are depicted in the low angle, very red light of sunrise, as they would appear when viewed with the sun behind them, and in black and white (to emphasize the patterns of their plumage over their particular colors).

This tight species focus and greater depth of material – both visual as well as textual – for each included species results in a very effective realization of the educational potential of Mr. Crossley’s system. By presenting each species not only in multiple plates but in both single species as well as mixed groups and in different lighting conditions, the reader is more easily able to discover not only which field marks are most distinctive but which are likely to be most visible in the field under different viewing conditions.
Given the rapid and widespread acceptance of the original Crossley guide combined with the more tightly focused scope and educational refinements of it represented in this new raptor guide, the prospects for the future of the Crossley system look very bright indeed.

Crossley Raptors CoverBook Title: The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors
Author: Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori & Brian Sullivan
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Imprint: Crossley Books
Format: Flexibound
ISBN: 9780691157405
Published: April 2013

This review was originally published in the July / August 2013 issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest.

In accordance with Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR Part 255, it is disclosed that the copy of the book read in order to produce this review was provided gratis to the reviewer by the publisher.