By Susan Myers| Christopher Helm | Paperback | March 2016 | 336 Pages | many Colour Plates and Distribution Maps | Edition 2 | ISBN: 9781472924445

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The Publisher’s View: Birds of Borneo is the first comprehensive guide to the varied avifauna of this island biodiversity hotspot, which comprises the tiny state of Brunei, the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Indonesian state of Kalimantan.

More than 630 bird species have been recorded on Borneo and, using the most up-to-date taxonomy and nomenclature, Birds of Borneo includes all recently split species and also gives full coverage of distinctive Bornean races where they differ from their counterparts on neighbouring islands or in mainland Southeast Asia. Borneo is of particular ecological significance; the unique combination of its tropical latitude and the relief of the land, which includes high mountains and rainforests, has created many isolated micro-habitats which have enabled a remarkable number of different species of birds to evolve, many of which are endemic to the island.

Every species recorded is described in detail with key identification characteristics and habitat information given, plus a colour distribution map. All species are illustrated, with paintings by the same expert team of artists who worked on the celebrated Birds of South-East Asia, also in the Helm Field Guides series.

The Author: Susan Myers is an experienced bird tour leader for US tour company Wings, specialising in southern Asia. Having grown up in Australia, she now lives in Seattle, USA, while spending much of each year in Asia.

Fatbirder View: One of the nice things about this book is that its written by a birder. Moreover, Susan Myers is a tour leader so she should know, if anyone does, exactly what a birder needs in the field when visiting a new place with new or unfamiliar birds. So the maps, text and illustrations format all follow a traditional path, which we birders know and love.

My only issue with the guide are the illustrations. Once again the publisher has gone along, for the most part, with their shopping trolley picking up wide ranging species from other field guides in their stable. My issue with this is that styles sometimes clash and there is no consistency. Many are top quality and show salient features as well as being sufficiently lifelike to be of use in the field. But others… well others leave a lot to be desired. I’;ve not been lucky enough to get to Borneo, but I have birded a few times in India as well as in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand so many birds that are widespread in the region are familiar to me. One of the most striking of them all is the Velvet Nuthatch and the illustration is, in my view, very poor indeed… more like something one would see on a cigarette card or an imported tea towel!

This aside the book is exactly what one would pack for a trip where you could see the Island’s avian delights.

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