A Conversation with Richard Crossley

Richard CrossleyRichard Crossley was born in Yorkshire, UK and found his way to Cape May, NJ as a young man. His love for birds and the fabled migration at Cape May were such a perfect match, that he has spent all of his adult life living here ever since. Richard is the author of the unique Crossley ID Guides and co-author of the wonderful “The Shorebird Guide” with fellow Cape May residents, Michael O’Brien & Kevin Karlson. In March 2017, Richard joined the Leica / Cape May Bird Observatory “American Dippers” team in the Champions of the Flyway bird race in Israel. Recently we had a chance to sit and chat with him and this is what he had to say.

Leica: How did you get started birding?

Richard: I started collecting eggs when I was 7 years old. My Dad, and his Dad, had done it. My Dad always emphasized only taking one egg and doing it quickly so not to disturb the bird.

Leica: Who were your main influences?

Richard: My Dad’s love for the outdoors is still contagious. When I was 10 years old, my schoolteacher Mr. Sutton, regularly took a few us birding. I was quickly hooked. I chased a Hudsonian Godwit when I was 16 where I met several other similarly-aged youth. They were telling stories of chasing birds all over Britain. Some of the older lads were travelling all over the World. It sounded incredible. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? And so I did!

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Leica: We know you have birded all over the world, do you have some favorite spots?

Richard: I went to great lengths to find the best place in the World to live and go birding; I have been here in Cape May ever since. I love the variety of Nepal: Katmandu, Chitwan NP (my first Tiger), and the incredible Himalayas. Thailand has the nicest people, and is beautiful with great birding. An Africa safari is a must for everyone. Japan has a unique culture. Everywhere is great when you see the glass as half full though, there is always much to discover.


Leica: What was the inspiration for your field guides?

Richard: My inspiration is what we see and how to replicate it. This is why I paint with pixels; it allows me to create an ‘apples to apples’ experience. A bird’s size, shape, behavior, and color patterns, are all connected. Looking at birds and nature differently, understanding how everything is connected so that it makes sense, has been the primary motivation in doing The Crossley ID Guides.

Leica: Tell us about your brand new publication, “The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl”

Richard: I am really excited by this book because it pushes the needle. It’s for hunters, birders, the city park parent, and everyone else. My dream is that it will help to unite all the groups; something conservation needs. We cover topics such as how to build a nestbox, and the history of conservation, thanks to Paul Baicich. We also have other additions such as wing cut outs. Crossley ID Guides are always built around the imagery, and the book has over 300 pages littered with quizzes and other thought-provoking things. I am hopeful that this will fill the surprising void in North American waterfowl guides.

This is my first self-published book. It’s going to be the next exciting step in the progression of Crossley Books. Treading water has never been a strength of mine. You can learn more here:

Leica: What other projects are you working on?

Richard: Selling the The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl. One of these days I will get the Western guide finished. If only they could make the days longer…

Keep a sharp eye out for your opportunity to meet Richard at upcoming Leica events and for chances to win a copy of his new guide!