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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
It's a pleasure to leaf through this guide, which will serve very well indeed the author's and artists' intention to "stimulate the study and conservation" of the beautiful birds of a remote and alluring part of the globe. The guide comprises two sections, one containing 86 beautiful plates with their facing-page captions and distribution charts, the other the species accounts. The texts are headed with the species' English, French, and scientific names, often with notes indicating different taxonomic approaches, and include a description, an often extensive treatment of similar species, voice descriptions, accounts of habit and habitat often including flight style, a statement of each bird's conservation status, and a detailed (often island-by-island) summary of geographic distribution. To minimize page flipping, the guide's passerine plates are broken into seven color-coded sections, one for each of the major island groups included. Thus, the birder visiting New Caledonia and confronted with an unfamiliar songbird has to consult only five plates, the visitor to the Bismarcks 11, and so on; the non-passerines, many of which, especially the water birds, are widely distributed among the islands, occupy the first 49 plates. There is necessarily some repetition in the case of species occurring across several island groups, but the artists and the designer have taken this as an opportunity to display regional variation in several species; have a look, for example, at the various Island Thrushes or the Cardinal Myzomelas, some of which differ strikingly from their counterparts on other islands.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
The birds of the Bismark Archipelago, the Solomans, Vanuatu and New Caledonia hold some real avian treasures and few guides have covered these areas with as much thoroughness as Guy Dutson. The artwork is very good and consistent and there is a wealth of information on the region.

The book begins with the contents which is fairly standard till you get to the plates list which are color coded for the region and sub-region. 60 plates illustrate the birds of the whole region then there are 9 plates for the species specific to the Solomans, then those of Makira, Rennell, Temotu and so on totaling 86 plates in all. This makes each of the specific regions very easy to find to compare those specific species one is looking for.

Then comes the introduction with several nice maps of the islands in the region concerned and information about island types, habitat, endemism, migration and bird topography, then a nice section on birding sites. A list of threatened species and where they exist and a couple of pages explaining the color coding in the book which is quite complex but needs to be in a region covered by so many islands.

This is then followed by a complete list of the species of Melanesia. Each island has a column with the birds status color coded from the information on the preceding page about if it is endemic, a migrant, a resident etc...

Following this come the plates. Each species is shown with a couple of depictions for moult, flight, juvenile or different plumages where relevant. Most of the plates are not crowded though a few with flight shots area little but I prefer this to going to plates depicting flight shots then going back to the plate with a roosted bird for comparison. All the images are bright, clean and show good detail. The information on the left has some description notes with a chart for each of the islands it inhabits with color codes for its status there. There is a also a page reference for the second part of the book which is the species accounts. These begin after the 86 color plates. The species accounts elaborate more on each of the species concerned within the plates with notes on description, similar species, voice, habits, conservation status and range. The book finishes with a gazetteer and index.

Overall this is a fantastic guide with beautiful plates and good information about the species concerned. You'll need to learn the color codes but these are vital to the book and your ease of use in the field. It is not a slim, compact guide by any means but when you have the need for such complex information and so many species it's not easy to slim it down without losing too much information. This guide is still portable and will fit in any bumbag for ease of transport throughout the day. This is also the most current and up to date guide to the region and great for any lucky birder in the field or dreaming birder in the armchair.

Mayr and Diamond's book The Birds of Northern Melanesia cover some of the same species though this is not a guide but about research and endemism across the islands of the Bismark Archipelago and the Solomans. Pratt's guide to The birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific cover the rest of the Pacific and duPont's book on South Pacific Birds also covers some of the region.

The Birds of Northern Melanesia: Speciation, Ecology, and Biogeography
A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific
South Pacific Birds, 2nd Revised and Updated Edition
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Easily one of the best field guides ever published. Very informative for a region lacking. Illustrations are very well done.
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Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This valuable source, well written, illustrated, and organized, was helpful not only throughout the visits to the islands and atolls throughout the Solomon Sea, but was also the supplemental source in observing birds throughout the main island of Papua New Guinea. The classic Birds of Papua New Guinea was published in 1980's, and is not available, but, it seems, the new edition will be re-published soon.
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on November 24, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I just had the opportunity to try this reference in New Caledonia and Vanuatu, and found it very helpful. Because I was on a cruise, I didn't have the chance to try the book on a real birding trip, but I hope to have the chance someday.
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