Wildlife identification reference material.


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This thread is so that we can share various sources and references that we use for identification of animals/birds/beasties/bugs/etc.... Please do share your own, be they books, articles or websites. The more we reference the more people can make use and identify what they've got pictures of.

Note as a general point of advice I'd recommend the use (where possible) of drawn plates instead of photographic records when performing identifications. The reason for this is that (well sourced and referenced) drawn references allow presentation of an "ideal" or perfect copy of a species. Furthermore they allow clear display of colours and detail without being affected by shadows or light colouring.
Photographs can suffer since individuals within a population can have unique features not indicative to the species; furthermore the effects of the light in the shot can obscure or change key details or colourations which might lead to confusion.

A few of my own references that I make use of:

Birds: Note if you get a change check out books published by Helm - they have a range from general to specific area and niche species books out there and they are all fantastic - pricey, but if you've an interest they are well worth purchasing.

1) Flight Identification of European Raptors by R.F.Porder et al
An older book and many of the photos are very dated by today's standards, but the drawn references of wing shape and pattern are a very good reference.

2) Bird Guide by Collins (Britain and European edition).
Great book containing a detailed series of drawn plates of a vast number of species. Each bird also has a short bit on location, identification and voice. Some bird also have in-flight drawings for additional reference.

3) Raptors of the World - Helm Identification Guides.
This is a fantastic book and goes into far more detail than most. The book is broken into two sections; a first part with drawn colour plates, distribution map and identification advice; and a second expanded description with more detail on the species.
Each bird has several drawn plates, showing adult male and female as well as juvenile, in flight and subspecies.

4) Shrikes and Bush-Shrikes by Helm Identification Guides.
Like the Raptor book, only focused around Shrikes, philontomas, batises and wattle-eyes. Again its a detailed and well put together book focusing upon drawn plates and a two part ID and then detail section.

5) Woodpeckers; A Guide to the Woodpeckers, Piculets and Wrynecks of the World by H.Winkler, D.A.Christie and D.Nurney
This book is set out much like the Helm books detailed above, with an ID and plate section and then a more fleshed out detail section in the second half of the book.

1) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by P.Waring and M. Townsend.
A large amount of information on moths, including reference material for both caterpillar and adult forms. Descriptive information includes identification; flight season; life cycle; larval foodplants; habitat; status and distribution.

1b) Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by P.Waring and M. Townsend.
A ring bound edition of the previous book. This one cuts much of the text and focuses purely upon identification traits and the plates of adult moths. A good option for a lighter, easier to flip through volume for reference whilst out in the field.

2) A Field Guide in Colour to Beetles
This book focuses upon British and European beetles. Containing clear drawn plates and short text per beetle relating to identification.

3) Collins Butterfly Guide (Britain and European edition)
Another great ID book by Collins, this one focusing upon butterflies. Containing detailed drawn plates for each species along with description including range; distribution habitat, flight period, life history and behaviour

4) Collins Complete Guide to British Insects
One of the few guides I've got that is a photographic reference rather than drawn (actually it might be my only one at present). It's a decent guide, but covering so much ground there is little room for much detail beyond basic ID points. Further some photos are clearer than others, which can make some identifications a challenge with this edition. A good all round general guide to have, but any specific niche interests will be best served with more detailed reference material.
I don't want sound like a smart-ass but I usually use google.com. I type in a description and check images results.
Fisher-Price Classics - See N Say - Basic Fun Inc
Best portable wildlife database on the planet, bar none.


It lacks moths - ID guide fail!

I don't want sound like a smart-ass but I usually use google.com. I type in a description and check images results.

Google is a given ;) But yes its a very valid reference (esp with mobile phones and tablets able to get online in remote locations).
I do the same thing by using Google search and just keep looking until I find what I need but great list above for future reference.
I'm old school I use the Peterson field guide to the Birds East of the Rockies
Fisher-Price Classics - See N Say - Basic Fun Inc
Best portable wildlife database on the planet, bar none.


It lacks moths - ID guide fail!

The moth says.....

Lol.. ya, ok, well on the upside though it is portable, and will work even in the event of a zombie apocalypse since batteries are not required.
The two online resources I use the most for birds is allaboutbirds.org, which is the Cornell site that MSnowy mentioned, and ebird.org.
Allaboutbirds is a tremendous tool for ID purposes, especially if you have SOME idea of what the bird is, but aren't sure--for instance, let's say I think it's a least flycatcher but maybe it's a Phoebe or something similar instead. You can look up Least Flycatcher and then also look through their images of similar birds.

Ebird doesn't help with ID, but it's the best resource out there, imo, for locating birds you're interested in. Using the Explore Data option, you can search a specific location to see what birds are being seen and reported there; or you can search a specific species to see where it's been seen. I use this a LOT to help located nearby areas I might find specific birds I'm looking for. I used it last year trying to locate a Snowy Owl close enough to go try to find. Alas, that ended badly, but oh well! I have found a number of "firsts" using the listings on ebird, as well as found a number of new favorite places to go.

I've got all the Audubon field guides apps (and a number of the Audubon books as well); birds, insects, trees, mammals, B'flies and Moths, Mushrooms, etc.

My favorite bird app is iBird--great ID tool, good quality photos, and sound clips with most birds to help confirm IDs in the field. Plus, it connects with ebird to help use that resource in the field as well.

I also have the Merlin app from Cornell on my phone, but so far, I've been underwhelmed by it.

In the way of actual books, besides the Audubon field guides, by far my most-used book is my Sibley's Guide to Birds of the Eastern US.
I've also got "The Warbler Guide," by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. A friend gave that to me, and it's been great to help specifically with the bazillion warblers that all seem to look so much alike!
I've got the National Geographic Birds of the United States as well; I don't use it as much as I used to, since I got the Sibley's.

Finally, a little different: "Scats and Tracks of the Southeast--a far more useful guide than one might think. I found my first Eagle's nest by locating the scat (err, that's a fancy name for "poop," by the way).

And a little book that is very nearly as old as I am, called "Great Smoky Mountain Wildflowers."

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