A field guide of nearly unidentifiable pictures

This blog is run by C.J. Arny, Jolene Pappas, and Brenda Walkenhorst. You can find more info on each of us in the Who We Are section. We met during an Earth Expeditions course through Miami University. The class included a 10-day field experience in Costa Rica. While on this adventure, the group was often attempting to identify the various organisms surrounding us. Our guide (Marco Odio Herrera) was able to identify many things for us, but sometimes the group was flipping through our many field guides to identify plants, birds, amphibians, and insects.


Dr. Mo always has multiple guidebooks within reach


Early morning birdwatching with Marco

These guidebooks had beautiful pictures, but when we compared them to what we saw, we often had trouble confirming a match. Had we found the right species but were observing natural variations? Could the differences be explained by sexual dimorphism? The solution was often to take a picture and sort it out later. It turns out, though, that many of the pictures just weren’t that good.


Catie getting a picture with Marco’s direction.

We felt like pretty awesome photographers while we were tromping around the forest, but upon later viewings, our lack of expertise was exposed. Our pictures were focused on the wrong thing or honed in on the empty branch where a bird was sitting just moments before. The idea for this blog came from those imperfect pictures.

As science educators, we also see this as an opportunity to explain and discuss concepts that are important to students and teachers. Enjoy!

One thought on “A field guide of nearly unidentifiable pictures

  1. Pingback: “Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Unanswered Prayers.” – Sylvia Jo

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