| Birds of Japan | By Otani Chikara | Lynx Edicions | 2019 | Flexibound | 392 Pages | 1800+ colour illustrations, 540+ colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9788416728121 | £44.99p |

The Publisher’s View:

Spanning more than 3000 km from northeast to southwest, the Japanese archipelago comprises four major islands and thousands of rocks and islets that stretch from Taiwan to the Russian Far East, and encompass a wide range of habitats. Thus, Alpine meadows and Arctic landscapes in the north give way to subtropical forests in the south. These environments are home to variously some of the most dramatic and little-known birds in Asia. Steller’s Sea-eagle and Blakiston’s Fish-owl on frozen Hokkaido. Some of the world’s rarest seabirds like Short-tailed Albatross and Bryan’s Shearwater on the country’s furthest-flung outposts. Internationally important numbers of wintering cranes. Exciting endemics like Lidth’s Jay, Amami Woodcock and Okinawa Rail on the southern islands. A suite of summer visitors ranging from the spectacular Fairy Pitta to the enigmatic Ijima’s Leaf-warbler. Few countries possess the ornithological allure of Japan.


  • Taxonomy follows the HBWand BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World.
  • Detailed texts covering status, habitat and behaviour, age, sex and geographical variation, voice, and confusion species.
  • Over 1800 illustrations covering all species and distinctive subspecies, birds in flight, males and females, juveniles and non-breeding plumages, where appropriate.
  • QR code for each species, linking to the Internet Bird Collection gallery of photos, videos and sounds.
  • More than 540 full-colour range maps for all species other than vagrants.
  • Well-marked subspecies groups receive full accounts, and the distributions of subspecies breeding in the region are clearly mapped.
  • Local species names included.
The Author:

Otani Chikara graduated from the University of Tokyo and has travelled and birded extensively in Japan and elsewhere in Asia (he was responsible for rediscovering the Chinese endemic Tibetan Rosefinch Carpodacus roborowskii after more than 50 years without sightings), as well as in Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Having dedicated more than 30 years to bird survey work, virtually throughout his homeland, he has also worked as a birding guide for at least 15 years, leading trips both within and outside Japan. He has a keen interest in the vocalizations and taxonomy of Japanese birds.

Fatbirder View:

Here is what I said about Birds of Thailand: There is a great deal I like about this guide, and nothing I don’t!

Despite the fact that quite a number of artists have been used there is a consistency to the plates that, if I didn’t know better, would convince me they were by the same person.

I like the use of distribution maps in the plates against species rather than with the text… makes it much easier to quickly match up the two.

Then there is the really innovative idea of using QR codes against each species. You can use your phone to access a wealth of photos and so on from Lynx Edicions wealth of material used to create their Handbook of the Birds of the World.

I like too, the brief info on Thailand’s top birding hotspots with the maps on the inside covers. I also like the use of hard covers… it would be easy to understand using soft covers to make this quite weighty tome lighter for use in the field, but a hard cover makes it more robust and likely to last a lot longer. Nuff said!

Do I have anything different to say about their guides to Japan, Cambodia or The West Indies? The answer is not a lot.

I very much like the ‘flexicover’ this should preserve the book during field trips and is actually a very sensible use of plastic for once. (I am less enamoured of the fact that the distributer sent this our shrink-wrapped – completely unnecessary planet despoiling.

The consistent use of abbreviations in the compact test saves space and makes those accounts really useful with an idea on calls etc.

Lynx is turning out some first class guides. They are NOT substitutes for some earlier more comprehensive works such as the recent excellent Japan fieldguide that packs a great deal more in… but this is a travelling birders delight; lightweight, durable and covering all the species. Nice little touch including a coded card for buyers who can down load a checklist on line.


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