Date: 4/11/17 10:51 am
From: Lars Per Norgren <larspernorgren...>
Subject: [obol] what species do field guides portray worst?
My field guides are in storage. I was intrigued by Wayne's question a few weeks back,
but had the silly notion of perusing some current volumes first. When I think of what was
available in the 60s at the beginning of my birding experience, and compare it to today,
I hesitate to criticize at all.
What always pops up first in my mind on this topic, is Western Gull in the Golden Guide.
I don't know if that is still in print, or if a quorum of readers knows what I'm talking about.
The Song Sparrows in the Golden Guide were also a problem for me. I kept trying to turn
my Song Sparrows here in Oregon into Fox Sparrows. I doubt the Fox Sparrow in the
Golden Guide was much better for us on the Northleft Coast. It took me at least three years
to separate the two with confidence. I'd like to think if Sibley had been available in 1969
I would have distinguished the two in a matter of days.
My grandfather expressed a desire for a field guide with color photos about that time-
pre ESA Nixon years. My father immediately dissed the notion. Eventually Audubon came
out with just such a field guide. It seems to me the thing was a regular train wreck. We've
all struggled with IDs on this list based on a single photo of a single individual. Art in bird
field guides is like translation of great literature. The best efforts are really amazing but
most of us take them for granted. "Sibley" is a household word in my family, but I doubt
any of my children feel an iota of reverence when they use that word.
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