Friday, April 5, 2013

Winner of Birdscapes Contest: Crossley ID Raptor Guide Giveaway

I hope you enjoyed puzzling over these landscape shots from the new Crossley ID Raptor Guide as much as I did.  It's great to see so many great American landscapes depicted in a birding guide.  This guide for sure gets the "best background shots" award for any field guide.  I'm still gawking (maybe even geeking out?) over all the great landscape shots.

But enough about me!  Let's take a look at the seven shots again, and reveal their locations.  Then we'll reveal the overall winner!

Birdscape #1
This turned out to be a toughie!  Answers ranged from Tibet (really!) to North Carolina and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.  A handful of folks guessed a location in the correct state--Arizona.  With the white rock formations, and hint of pine forests peaking through the clouds, where could this be?  The correct answer, only pinned down by one contestant, is:
Mount Lemmon, Tucson, AZ

Birdscape #2

This was one of the most correctly guessed locations.  Perhaps because it is one of the most visited hawkwatching and overall birding sites in the United States.  75% of all contestants gave the correct answer:

Cape May State Park hawkwatch and Bunker Pond area, from the lighthouse (map here).

Bing birdseye view of Cape May lighthouse, hawkwatch platform, and Bunker Pond.
The great thing about this birdscape shot is that you are looking down on the parking area and hawkwatch platform from the top of the lighthouse, as if you were one of the raptors flying over Cape May.  Very fun!

Birdscape #3
OK, so this was another location that most contestants (75%) were able to guess.  Where do you look for California Condors at the beach?  Answer:  Big Sur, Monterey, California.  But true to it's name, Big Sur is a big place--about 90 miles of coastline.  Where exactly at Big Sur was this shot taken?  Doing some Google Image searching, I was able to find this same beach.  Here's a pretty similar shot: 

Here's another:

But where exactly is this?  Doing a fly over of the Big Sur area with Google Earth and Bing I was able to locate it:

Mouth of the Little Sur River, Monterey, California
BTW, this Crossley ID Raptors shot was better than any pic of the Little Sur River mouth that I could find online.  I'm telling you, these landscape shots are practically Ansel Adamsishly good!  

Birdscape #4
So, here we seem to have a popular ridge-top hawkwatching location.  All the deciduous trees and the heavily eroded landscape might point us towards a spot in the eastern United States.  In fact, this is perhaps the most popular ridge-top hawkwatching location in the United States.  It was also the most correctly identified birdscape of the contest, with 80% correctly guessing Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania.  This is looking north from the north lookout.  

Birdscape #5

A walkway through perhaps a wetland with palm trees in the background.  You might think there were a lot of places this might be in the American Southeast.  94%  of our contestants correctly guessed a location in Florida, and a whopping 50% correctly identified it as the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park.

Birdscape #6

Rugged mountains, sparse vegetation.  All but one contestant guessed somewhere in the western United States.  Just over 50% named a site in the correct state--Arizona.  From there, only 4 were able to name this as the lower part of Madera Canyon.  Guess you have to have been there!

The fun thing is that with Google Earth, you can practically identify the exact point where this photo was taken:

Google Earth location for Crossley ID Raptors Guide shot of Madera Canyon

It's on the road into the canyon, about 1.3 miles before the canyon mouth.

Location of Crossley ID Raptor Guide shot of Madera Canyon
Pretty slick trick, eh?

Birdscape #7
This last image turned out to be the hardest birdscape to ID, with nobody actually naming the location.  The tall grass, palm trees, and flat landscape led 70% of contestants to guess a Florida location.  The closest guess was "Central Florida, perhaps near Orlando."  The correct answer:

I'm not sure how anyone would have gotten that, but interestingly, 3 contestants actually guessed Merritt Island for Birdscape #2!  Crazy!

Anyway, just for fun, I spent way too much time on Google Earth looking to see if I could actually find this exact spot on Merritt Island.  It's a big place, but here were my clues--looking for a nice two-lane paved road out away from development that makes a strong bend.  There actually didn't seem to be too many roads like that on Google Earth.  When I could find a two-lane paved road I would follow it.  Low and behold, I may have actually found this very tower (if it isn't a Crossley photoshop special!) up at the very northernmost part of the island on the Courtney Parkway where it makes a turn to the northwest just before it cuts back over to the mainland (see map here).  Anyway, I couldn't find any better candidate on the island, so hopefully this is it!

Presumed Merritt Island vulture tower from the Crossley ID Raptor Guide.

So that was fun.  And as you look through the Crossley ID Raptor Guide, you may find yourself inspired to do some initial exploring on Google Earth to see how many other locations you can ID!  Oh yeah, you can also use the book to help you ID birds of prey :-)

The Winner
Amazingly, one candidate was able to identify 6 of the 7 locations--all but this last one on Merritt Island.  He was the only one to identify Mt. Lemmon, and the only one to narrow down the Big Sur location to the mouth of the Little Sur River.  Congratulations to Tom Ford-Hutchinson from Irvine, California!

Close runner-ups, each identifying 5 locations (missing only Mt. Lemmon and Merritt Island) are Bill Etter and Patty Topp.  Practically tied for second place was also Linda Widdop, who only nailed down 4 locations, but had the correct state for the other 3--the only contestant to correctly guess the state of all 7 locations.  3 other contestants correctly identified birdscape #s 2, 3, 4, 5.  Congrats to all who played, and correctly identified at least one birdscape--I'm sure that represents some good birding time out and about the country!  Hopefully this little game and the Crossley ID Raptor Guide will inspire you to go out and enjoy even more of our wonderful birdscapes!

Special thanks to Princeton Press and Richard Crossley for making this little game possible, and for providing a copy of the Crossley ID Raptor Guide for me to review, and one for our winner to enjoy!


  1. I can't believe I guessed those locations in AZ correctly, props to Mike Lester for taking around the state!

  2. Wow! Going through these images just now, I only recognized Hawk Mountain... should have had Cape May and Mt. Lemmon from the landscape, but after a day of fieldwork, I'll be happy that I can still ID something.