They all look the same

We’ve got these birds around here, that make loud noises and don’t look like any bird I’ve seen before. So, even if it took a year, the old naturalist has awoken in me, and I’ve noticed this need for Yet Another Book – a bird book.
Should be easy, eh? Just walk into Kinokuniya and … find that the foreign book section has no books on identifying birds or doing anything else with them.
So, the next step: Of course, I only need to have the name of the bird in English, or just the scientific (‘latin’) name, and the rest of the book can well be in japanese or tagalog. So, new trial at Kinokuniya; found the section with bird-watching guides.
Maybe I’m just too picky. But, after going through some 12 different books, I cuold not find one that would please me enough to spend the meager thousand or two on it. Why it is so difficult to make a decent bird guide (or, a guide for recognising any other kind of animals or plants?) You only need good images (and photos are usually worse than carefully made drawings), that clearly point out the main distinguishing features and differences to other closely related species as well as between the sexes and different developmental stages… not forgetting about information on nesting areas and migration…
Maybe I’m just too picky. Found one book that had all these qualities, was the thinnest book of all – but it didn’t have the names in English or science. Duh.
While on the subject of recognising species, have a look here. (Thanks M&J for the link.) There’s a test for checking if you can ditinguish between Korean, Chinese and Japanese people – some time ago I boasted with an ability to recognise these folks. Well, turned out I don’t. Even though I’d complain about the people being carefully selected to be un-prototypical examples of their nations, I didn’t get higher than average result.
I guess I can take this as a nice example of the difference between population averages and individuals.

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