If you aren't familiar with The Crossley ID Guides by Princeton University Press, then get out from under that rock and join the rest of us! When I first opened The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds I was both inspired and impressed by the book plates. This guide has taken it's graphic representation to a new level by showing birds in many settings and situations, all in focus on one page. With such an interesting way to study birds, it's no surprise that the newest book out focuses on Raptors. From the hawkwatchers, to the casual backyard birders, this book will offer insights to bird identification. Go ahead, if you don't take my word for it, check out a sampler.
Let's take a stroll through Everglades National Park, Crossley Raptor style. The Everglades is a birders ideal habitat. It has interesting birds, rarities, and for the raptor lovers, this is a place that you can see a large number in both individuals and species. One of the most common raptors in the park is the Red-shouldered Hawk. While driving from the park entrance to Flamingo, I have counted dozens of Red-shouldered Hawks littering the roadside snags and flying over the marsh. On a recent field trip to the Flamingo campground a friendly Red-shouldered Hawk caught prey with little to no interest in the middle school campers that I had with me. While it was at times pulling teeth to get these urban Miami kids interested in nature, the Red-shouldered did the trick by swooping over their tent to catch small lizards.
On a hike out to the Gate 15 mound in Everglades National Park, you will be happy to find Snail Kites along the path. Snail Kites are found near wetlands with Apple Snails and I really liked the Crossley ID plate that demonstrates a typical Snail Kite feeding style. These guides aren't just pretty coffee table books, they show behavior and identification tools that you can take into the field with you.
Snail Kites are found year around but in the summer months at Everglades National Park, another kite species migrates to Florida. No one can mistake the Swallow-tailed Kites with their deep forked-tail and bold white and black markings. Often seen in early spring, these migrants are easy to spot on the open grasslands of the Everglades.
One of my favorites raptors of the Everglades is the Short-tailed Hawk. This species can be seen near the forested areas of the park including the pine uplands around Long Pine Campground and Research Road. In the Crossley plate above the white color morph is shown. This raptor has a very restricted ABA range and many birders hope to see it while visiting the park. Since it's usually seen on the wing, the ID plate provides a variety of flight options that may be seen in the field.
Another range restricted raptor that can be seen in Everglades National Park is the White-tailed Kite. By far the best place to see this species is at the end of Research Road near the Nike Missile Base. Last summer I was even able to see a breeding pair there, perched on a snag. The Crossley book gives us a plate with some typical behavior of hovering, perching, and gliding.
The Crossley ID Guides are meant to improve your identification skills by showing birds in different poses, behaviors, and light conditions. What I like about the new raptor guide is that it takes the idea of ID practice and provides mystery plates to help you hone your skills. The plate above has a variety of raptors in different flight poses. The species are numbered so you can check to see if you're right. This book is visually stunning, provides insight to bird behavior, and offers interesting identification tips. If you're interested in birds and want to improve your identification, you shouldn't pass up the opportunity to own The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors by Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori, and Brian Sullivan. This book can be a reference guide, a coffee table conversation starter, and a great way to study birds from home. It's not often that we are offered an identification tool that we can use at home that inspires us to participate like The Crossley ID Guides.
I hope you've enjoyed our little walk through the Everglades with Crossley plates. You should head over to The Fat Finch which has an article on raptors in Native American mythology and references the new guide as well. The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors blog tour will be continuing all week and through next week, check out the Princeton University Press website for more details on what's to come and where to go.
Two chances to win a prize!
Below are more raptors found in Everglades National Park. Can you ID them? The first person to answer correctly will receive a prize. The second prize goes to the person that can list all the known raptors that have been seen in Everglades National Park. Leave your answer in the comments. There will only be one winner for each answer and the same person cannot win both.