| Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands | By Frank Hawkins, Roger Safford & Adrian Skerrett illustrated by John Gale & Brian Small | Christopher Helm | Hardback | Dec 2015 | 336 Pages | 124 Colour plates | ISBN: 9781472924094 | £29.99p |
The Publisher’s View:
The Malagasy region contains one of the most extraordinary concentrations of biodiversity in the world. Its recognition as a zoogeographic region in its own right has recently been confirmed and, all taxa combined, the region was found to hold the second most distinct assemblage of vertebrates in the world after the Australian region, despite being the smallest of them all.
This new field guide in the Helm Field Guides series covers the whole of the Malagasy region, which comprises the unique island of Madagascar and the various islands and archipelagos of the Indian Ocean including the Seychelles, Comoros and Mascarenes (Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues). Every resident and migrant species is covered in full detail with a colour distibution map for each species. Vagrants are also treated in detail, but without maps. All species are illustrated on a beautiful series of 123 colour plates, with artwork from John Gale and Brian Small. Conveniently, the plates have been arranged so that all the key species of the various archipelagos are placed together in sections.
This is a major work of reference on the birds of the region and will remain the standard text for many years to come.
“I was fortunate to have a pre-publication copy on my recent trip to Madagascar. It’s surely the best and most up-to-date bird field guide out there, with excellent discussions of topics beyond identification. Buy it and take it with you!” – Robert. S. Ridgely, Rainforest Trust
Roger Safford is Senior Programme Manager at BirdLife International and Frank Hawkins is Vice-President for Africa and Madagascar at Conservation International.
Adrian Skerrett has lived and worked in Seychelles for much of his life. All three authors have worked extensively in the region for many years, and have an unrivalled knowledge of its avifauna. They have each authored many publications on the birds of the Malagasy region.
I doubt I will ever get to judge how good this is as a field guide as, despite its many endemic bird families birding Madagascar requires a level of fitness I just don’t have. So I am left to drool over the illustrations. Its odd that the illustrations seem to have a very consistent style given that there are two illustrators, but to me consistency is something of a yardstick. Those species I do know well are very competent so I am sure the stunning endemics are too. The text is informative and doesn’t overwhelm adding to its usefulness for ID. Moreover, the combination of Indian Ocean Islands seems eminently sensible and make this a great volume for anyone visiting the region.