Encyclopaedia of Estrildid Finches by Mastthew M Vriends & Tanya M. Heming-Vriends. Hancock House Publishers http://www.hancockhouse.com ISBN 0888394934 8.5x11 ins Hard Cover 256 pp 48 page colour [400 photographs] section. $60
I am a birder and no lover of caged birds – I have often quoted the line a robin redbreast in a cage, puts all heaven in a rage and was surprised to find this quote in the front pages alongside one from Peter Scott saying how well-looked-after birds have happy (and longer) lives compared with the wild. I`m not converted but still found this book useful on a number of levels.
The colour photos are very fine not least because they are of captive and relatively tame birds. This means they are well presented and in profile making comparison easy. This overcomes the major problem of photographic guides where one is supposed to compare similar birds photographed at very different angles and in a variety of postures. The colour is brilliant and as far as my limited knowledge goes true.
There is a long section of the keeping of the birds and their breeding etc. and even this is of use to serious ornithologists who need such knowledge to make captive breeding programmes successful for endangered birds.
However, it is the species accounts and overview that was of most interest to me. Its odd to see it from the viewpoint of someone just as keen on birds but with a very different set of needs and enthusiasms. Moreover, the accounts are very clear and contain virtually all the information of more serious works. Writers of family accounts could learn a great deal from this approach – simple, but by no means simplistic. The taxonomical info is as good (or in some cases better) than many family accounts and the descriptions are, largely better!
So what use is it to those of us who want to see our birds in the wild going about their everyday business? Well, quite a lot really. For a start many caged birds escape to confuse or excite the twitchers among us. They are not all bog standard birds but many display the characteristics of captive bred birds and variations not found in the wild. This may be the ONLY source of good ID for such escapees.
What is more the book is a great general guide to the family concerned as the accounts are so easy to read and not as turgid as many ornithological texts. The vast majority of birders will find this much easier going than a more learned tome.
I may not have been converted
to the hobby of keeping caged birds and the terrible trade in birds taken from the wild, but I am converted to the reading material
that supports ethical bird keepers.
Created: 13th Jul 2002
back to the top of this page
|Site developed by
|This site was last updated on Wednesday, 30th March 2005.|
|Fatbirder is best viewed with a screen resolution of 800x600 or greater using Netscape v4+ or Internet Explorer v4+
Feedback/Contact/Advertising Info ::