Richard Crossley and Dominic Couzens have published a new guide to the birds of Britain and Ireland. This book adheres to the Crossley system of bird identification in which plates are crammed with dozens of bird photographs. The birds in these photos come in different sizes (ranging from adequate to frustratingly tiny) and postures, all against busy habitat scenes. Ascertaining the relative sizes of the species is difficult. Sample plates can be viewed at the Amazon site links in this post.
So how did you learn to identify birds? While I was in the seventh grade, my two brothers and I competitively quizzed each other with a stack of 5 x7 cards with Agassiz bird portraits on them. I think these cards were from the Audubon Society. That year my teacher, John Trott, initiated a year-long bird identification unit in conjunction with his banding birds. Much of my birding involved peer learning. If I were learning birds today, undoubtedly I would be using the Thayer Birding Softwarequizzes and attending birding field trips.
Although I own Crossley’s earlier book on eastern birds (see link below), when I need a field guide, I first turn to my Sibleyguide. But Crossley claims his book is not aimed at me, but, rather beginning and intermediate birders. His goal is to teach neophytes. I would love to know if he has evidence that his system is better than traditional field guides.