Bird Watching Books
Bird Watching Books
Field Guide Reviews from Fatbirder
I’ve been using birding Field Guides for more than half a century and reviewing them here for more than two decades. In my lifetime they have gone from risible to magnificent, depending on where you are in the world. A number of trends have emerged some good, so not so much.
In my view the seminal moment was the publication of Collins Bird Guide in 1999. It set a new benchmark that only the very best guides have matched. Happily a number of other guides followed suit and the ones for North America and for Australia are as good. More recently Richard Crossley began publishing guides based on the idea of showing birds in typical habitat covering different ages, genders, flight modes and etc. Another publishing pinnacle. Lastly, several of these guides have become first class apps that add the benefit of calls to the guides, and allow world birders to carry on their smartphone almost a world library of guides (See Birding Apps Review page).
One other development I am not convinced by is the trend to publish photo-based guides rather than painted images. I’ve yet to see one that is as good as a drawn guide simply because photographic images are not all taken in the same light nor show birds in identical poses so that ID differences are obvious and that is the essential prerequisite for a good guide in the field.
Below are reviews of books that I believe are the very best available.
Collins Bird Guide
| Collins Bird Guide – The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe | 2nd Edition | By Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney & Dan Zetterstrom | HarperCollins | 2010 | 392 pages | 4000+ colour illustrations | 700 colour distribution maps | Paperback | ISBN: 9780007268146 | £19.99p |Read more or Purchase
Birds of Central America
| Birds of Central America: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama | By Andrew Vallely & Dale Dyer | Princeton University Press | 2018 | Flexibound | 584 pages, 260 plates with colour illustrations | 1190+ colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780691138022 | £69.99 |Read more or Purchase
The Australian Bird Guide
| The Australian Bird Guide | Written by Peter Menkhors, Danny Rogers & Rohan Clarke | Illustrated by Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack & Kim Franklin | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2018 | Paperback | 566 pages, 250 plates with 4700+ colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472912350 | £24.99p |Read more or Purchase
Field Guide to the Birds of the Middle East
| Field Guide to the Birds of the Middle East | By Richard Porter & Simon Aspinall | Illustrated by A Birch, John Gale, Mike Langman & Brian E Small | Helm | Edition 2 | 2010 | Paperback | 384 pages | 176 colour plates | 636 distribution maps | ISBN: 9780713676020 | NHBS Price: £29.99 |Read more or Purchase
A Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan
| A Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan | By Mu-Chi Hsiao & Cheng-Lin Li (Translated by Jian-Long Wu) | Wild Bird Society Of Taipei | 2018 | Paperback | 416 Pages | 90 plates with colour illustrations, colour distribution map | ISBN: 9789860550191 | £46.99p |Read more or Purchase
Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands
| 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 |Read more or Purchase
Birds of the Indian Subcontinent
| Birds of the Indian Subcontinent | By Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp & Tim Inskipp | Princeton | Softcover | 2012 | Edition: 2 | 528 Pages | 226 Colour Plates | Colour Distribution Maps | Black & White Illustrations | ISBN 9781408127636 | £34.99p |Read more or Purchase