Dichotomous keys

I have always liked the sound of the term “dichotomous keys”. I have also long been fascinated by how these keys allow for the identification of living organisms via a series of paired choices. Dichotomous keys are forerunners of the digital age, where it is all about yes or no, 1 or 0.

While bird identification guides have largely abandoned dichotomous keys, they are certainly of historical interest and they continue to be essential for scientists. So here is a look at some dichotomous keys that include the California condor or its nest.

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