Hi, David and others
I agree with your comments, and until this latest incident, I've had no
substantial gripes about our contemporary field guides, even though I've had
to put some young cuckoos in the "too hard basket" in the past.
However, judging from the feedback I've received, I now think there is a
strong case for inclusion of the various juvenile plumages of parasitic
cuckoos in future field guides. This compensates for the fact you're
rarely, if ever, going to have the benefit of seeing accompanying adult
specimens to make ID easier, as you tend to with dependant young of other
And while seasoned birdoes with lots of reference books and resources might
not have too many problems with juvenile cuckoos, let's not forget that bird
identification for many ultimately becomes a random, picture-matching
exercise, using only one or two field guides. They can't be expected to
identify the juveniles, even to cuckoo level, if there aren't decent
pictures in the field guides.
Michael Atzeni, Toowoomba
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David James [SMTP:
> Sent: Saturday, 13 February 1999 15:56
> Field guides can't and
> don't cover everything. I don't mean that our guides are bad. In fact I
> think they are excellent, especially considering how few articles have
> written on identification of Australian birds that field guide authors can
> source. But they are not handbooks.
> The Field Identification section of HANZAB attempts to redress this
> imbalance between the reality of variation in birds and the practical,
> portable synthesis presented in field guides. I don't think this role of
> HANZAB is yet widely appreciated, to provide, where possible, the
> information necessary to identify age-classes, sexes and subspecies in the
> field with some degree of reliability founded on original research. But
> yeah, its hard to read, it can be a complicated tangle.
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