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Birds of Southern Africa (Princeton Field Guides) Paperback – October 13, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Field Guides
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (October 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691096821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691096827
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the 2002 Best Bird Book - Africa, Worldtwitch

"The 200 colored plates are superb and carefully give attention to the natural variations of plumages with age, sex, and seasons. It is certainly the most comprehensive set of illustrations of South African birds in one volume."--Choice

From the Back Cover

"Presents a comprehensive set of illustrations unmatched not only for the region covered but for any part of Africa."--Dale A. Zimmerman, Western New Mexico University


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
We highly recommend this guide.
Judy S. Altman
I own all the field guides for this area and the Sinclair book is the best.
Magpie
The drawings are very well done.
B. Blebs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Alexander J. McMahon on January 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an absolute must for any birder, amateur or expert, who travels in southern Africa. I used it daily on a overland camping trip through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The descriptions of the various species are accurate. The color plates are extremely life-like. The maps and habitat information provided for each bird were very helpful in helping us identify the different subjects. If you have any interest in birding take this book with you on your journey to southern Africa.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By N. Whiting on December 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Warning: using this field guide will make you dissatisfied with many other field guides. You will enjoy studying and using this guide.
The illustrations are large and detailed, distinctly more accurate than most guides. In addition most are just beautiful works. They are grouped in species settings with juveniles, alternate plumage, flight and significant field marks highlighted.
On the opposite page: written description, habitat, abundancy status and call descriptions with a range map plus the Afrikaans name.
As an example of the illustrations: the Laughing Dove is illustrated by two flight poses and a profile. The profile has arrows noting 'no hind collar', 'cinnamon back' and 'black-flecked necklace'. The written text notes marks that distinguish this bird from a Cape Turtle-Dove.
The cover is plastic coated and the pages have a lesser water resistant coating.
A lot of attention to detail went into creating this book --colored coded page edges according to bird group, groups of waterbirds and hawks in flight for comparison, a checklist near the index and internet addresses of birding resources in the area.
All this in a work that I carried in a large pants pocket every day.
It just makes me wish such books were available for many more areas.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Magpie on August 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own all the field guides for this area and the Sinclair book is the best. The illustrations are excellent and the text and range maps are opposite the illustrations making it easy to use in the field. I do question the inclusion of some species where there are only two or three records for the area covered as this makes someone visiting the area go through a lot of alternatives to make an identification. Also better explanation of the summer ranges of certain species would help.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jessejps on May 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Princeton field guides have earned a deservedly high reputation and this guide is an example of why. The areas covered are : Namibia, Botswana, Southern Mozambique,Zambia, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. All of the birds recorded in this region are included and illustrated. The illustrations are very well done, clear and detailed. Each species is well represented with Adults, females, juveniles and subspecies illustrated.
One of the things that first struck me as I thumbed through this book was how many species are shown in flight or have wing details illustrated. This is a huge indentification help in the field. waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors all have plates dedicated to showing them in flight and Nightjars have a plate comparing wing patterns and structure. I would guess over 70% of the species in the book are shown as they appear in flght.
Similar species are compared and the plates are well organized. Often a guide that includes as many species as this one will have plates that feel crowded or make it difficult to seperate species on the page. That is not the case in this book. each species on the page is separated by grey lines that put each species in a "box" (for lack of a better description) I have to admit it was distracting at first, it is not something I had seen before in field guides, but in a very short time I found it was helpful.
The text is included opposite of each plate and is accompanied by a range map for each species. Species descriptions are brief as is expected by a guide of this size. If any critisisms are to be included I would think they would be that the species accounts are not detailed enough and do not include other information such as voice or behavior.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Arny on February 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sinclair's book is a big improvement on the earlier fieldguides for the area that I had (Newman and Prozesky). The art is better and the info is compactly displayed. I can't claim to be knowledgeable about this avifauna, nor have I used the book in the field. However, the book is just the sort of new work that I was looking for in preparation for a visit to South Africa.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Blebs on March 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm so glad I bought this guide before visiting South Africa recently. I took it with me everywhere and it shows! It is easy to find the bird group you are looking for from the table of contents as well as quick references (both names and diagrams) that direct you to the appropriate page. The drawings are very well done. I especially like how distinguishing features and subtle differences between similar species are pointed out both in the written descriptions and diagrams, making for easier identification. Also, in species where juveniles or breeding birds differ considerably in plumage, additional diagrams are added to depict this.

With this many species, space is limited, and I have read complaints that there is not enough information about the species, so I suppose that is something to consider if you are looking for in-depth descriptions, but I don't think that was the intention of the authors for this guide. As a field guide it is excellent and reasonably sized to carry around with you in a backpack (not a pocket guide!). If I want to know more about a particular species, I look it up on the internet later. I looked at some other books at a local bookstore in South Africa and I was glad I had bought this one. Definitely recommended.
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