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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crossley ID Guide: Image Number Comparisons

So, in line with my comparison of text between the new Crossley ID guide and recent field guides, here's a comparison chart showing number of birds illustrated for the same species:

Again, note how Crossley ID stacks up to the others.

103 Big Sibley
84 Crossley ID
54 Stokes
37 National Geographic
33 NWF
31 Smithsonian
26 Kaufman

Again, note how well Big Sibley does in comparison. Book jacket claims 6,600 in Big Sibley, compared to 10,000 images claimed for Crossley ID (and 3400 photos in Stokes). As a direct comparison, many of the Crossley ID images are small and distant birds, especially distant flocks of birds--which is useful in itself, but not always the same way as illustrations showing additional variations.

I'm also impressed with how well Kaufman stands up, compared to the others in the middle of the pack--very respectable for such a trim guide (and he manages to show a juvenile Saw-whet Owl, which even Crossley ID doesn't pull off)!

So that's how the numbers stand in this comparison. But there are probably even more than 10,000 birds in Crossley ID--just check out his shot of the Black-legged Kittiwake colony, and it's anyone's guess how many birds are in there! For the record, here's the number of illustrations claimed for these guides:

10,000 Crossley ID (combined photos--who knows how many birds that really is!)
6,600+ Big Sibley (illustrations)
4,000+ National Geographic (paintings)
3,400 Stokes (photos--some are of more than one bird)
2,100 NWF
2,000+ Kaufman (photos)
2,000 Smithsonian


Spencer said...

This is a cool comparison; some of the numbers surprise me.

I guess having more images isn't always better, but it does get away from the nutty Petersonian idea that one image can be representative of all members of the species. Very cool comparison ... thanks!

cyberthrush said...

An interesting statistical comparison... a few things though:

1. You're likely correct in saying 10,000 images from Crossley, but I originally interpreted that figure differently to mean that Crossley's pics were selected FROM 10,000 images available (if in fact there are 10,000 total images IN the book then they likely come from 30 or 40,000 (or more) images (the vast majority of images one collects would never make it to publication).

2. Comparing Crossley and Sibley (or really any other guide) may be a bit of apples and oranges in so much as Richard's whole point seems to be to deliberately take a hugely different approach from previous guides.

3. I like Sibley's text, and that he shows different plumages/phases, but in all honesty have never found his artwork very helpful in making close calls; probably puts me in a minority, but his depictions seem too bare and minimal for making fine distinctions. Often when trying to decide between a few candidate birds after looking at artist-rendered guides, I end up going to photo guides and eventually find a pic that jumps out as OBVIOUSLY being the bird I saw. Crossley, I think is trying to capture that wholistic "Aha!" quality... his text is also really excellent (just a bit skimpy on some of the voices/calls).

4. Finally, all the other guides you've mentioned (including big Sibley), I'd consider taking into the field with me... Crossley I wouldn't... it's more of a back-up and learning resource for home use (though I'll probably put it in the backseat on occasion and experiment with it ;-))

birdchaser said...

1) Preface says that 10,000 images are in the book, so must be chosen from a lot more images.

2) Crossley ID is different, for sure, but has to be compared to others with a similar purpose. Big Sibley and Stokes for sure are also not really convenient "field" guides, but there you go. Crossley ID is just for sure the most explicit in saying "leave me at home".

3) Sibley artwork has its unique issues (some would say problems), but it is still the first book I'll turn to when I want to look something up--it is just organized in a great way to give you the most info in the quickest amount of time. And the flight illustrations are gold.

4) I'm already starting to think about a post on "what guide is best for what" or something. Right now I'd say I'd keep Sibley in the car (back ups at home), Crossley ID by the bed, and Stokes on the shelf. But I might pull one over the other depending on the occasion. I'll have to spend some more time with Stokes and Crossley ID before I say much more about that.

Unknown said...

Great! Good information to share with others,i like it very much,thanks....

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