01 November 2010

Book Review: Parrots of the World

My review copy of Parrots of the World came in this month from Princeton University Press and I must say that I was happily surprised with the quality and the ease-of-use of this interesting field guide. This guide is written by Joseph Foreshaw and has beautiful illustrations by Frank Knight. I particularly enjoyed that the birds are illustrated in their natural perched style though some of the plates looked a bit stiff. Also, one of my favorite parts were the important ID clues such as underwing and tail patterns given in flight. I was hoping this would be done for every species, especially since most observances of parrots are during flight. This was a nice addition to the perched bird plates and I think are the most helpful for identifying purposes.

This guide is a must-have for any parrot lover or bird enthusiast. The parrot eco-tourism industry has taken off in recent years and this will be a perfect book for birders and laymen alike that want to ID parrots on these trips. I especially enjoyed the introduction by Joseph Foreshaw. Unfortunately, I don't know how useful this guide will be in the field. I would think that in the field one would rather carry a more comprehensive guide of the area and not just focus on one set of birds. That being said, if the main ID concern were parrots, I would want to use this book.

For instance, in my home location of South Florida there are many feral colonies of parrots and parakeets. Some of these species are not found in my trusted Sibley guide and I will certainly be taking this book off the shelf for identification purposes but it wouldn't be one found in my side bag in the field. That space is very limited and already has a camera, a general field guide, and a notebook. Not to mention the other necessities of birding such as sunscreen, a hat, and a cell phone. Though the size of the book is field guide size and the weight wouldn't be a burden if this was the only field guide being used.

My favorite parts of this field guide are the above mentioned flight details in the color plates and the really great range maps. I've never seen range maps in a parrot identification book and this is very useful when planning for trips or for narrowing down your identifications. Probably my favorite part of the book is the inclusion of subspecies on these range maps. I think this will prove very helpful for people especially when combined with the different illustrations of the subspecies. Overall, I think Parrots of the World is an excellent book and any birder would love to get their hands on a copy!

Flight illustrations
Range maps
Subspecies information
Localities for given species
Organization of species
Index of English names and Scientific names

Not all species have flight illustrations
Country boundaries are not included on range maps
Limited field guide use but excellent resource book

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