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Collins Field Guide:

Birds of New Zealand, Hawaii, Central and West Pacific

Collins Field Guide: Birds of New Zealand, Hawaii, Central and West Pacific By Ber Van Perlo | 256 pages | 95 colour plates | Harper Collins | Hardcover | 2011 | ISBN 9780007287383

What the publishers say

Featuring over 750 species, Birds of New Zealand, Hawaii, Central and West Pacific is the only field guide to illustrate and describe every species of bird you may see in the area, from Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea to Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

* Text gives information on key identification features, habitat, and songs and calls
* All plumages for each species are illustrated, including those of males, females and juveniles

The 95 colour plates appear opposite their relevant text for quick and easy reference. Distribution maps are included, showing where each species can be found and how common it is, to further aid identification. This comprehensive and highly portable guide is a must for all birdwatchers visiting the region.Fatbirder View

I see the logic of covering the area as a whole but feel that the format is a mistake and the plates very crowded. OK It’s portable but the illustrations are very small and do not convey the impressions of the birds not give the fine detail of, say, the European guide. It’s a damn shame but little jewels like, for example, the Shining Cuckoo come across as rather inconsequential. The portraits are rather pale across the board, maybe they had to be lightened as the crowding would make everything dark otherwise? Whatever the reason I was greatly disappointed. Given how aged the NZ guide is apart from photographic handbooks I think that we were due the best that Collins can do and I don’t feel they reached that pinnacle here.

I was also left wondering why each illustration on a plate had the prefix of the plate number before the number… i.e. 74.1, 74.2, 74,3 and so on? Did the editor forget to remove them or is it an attempt to give references in the same way as, for example, the numbering in Roberts southern African guide? Given the lack of space it seems redundant as does the bracketed common names in French – why?

I for one would have put up with a heavier book in order to have larger portraits and extra text – such as vocalizations that are missing from many. At 1p under £30 I cannot believe that the production costs constraints have been allowed to triumph over production quality. I know the guys at Collins can do better than this.

Fatbirder

Buy this book from www.nhbs.com