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Birds of Southern Africa (Princeton Field Guides) Paperback – November 13, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The relatively small size of the book coupled with the beautiful and accurate plates make this field guide an ideal companion for any level of bird watching in southern Africa."--Nate Fronk, Words about Birds

"Throughout this fourth edition there are many additions and updates, including additional artwork. Each of the authors is a well-known ornithologist and writer, while the two artists are clearly talented and experienced with the birdlife. A great book has been made even better for this fourth edition of Birds of Southern Africa."--Charles Leck, American Reference Books Annual

"Any natural history enthusiast or birder traveling to the region will want this field guide, and many an armchair traveler will appreciate it as well."--Dan R. Kunkle, Wildlife Activist

"Birders can quickly become overwhelmed at the scope of avifauna in southern Africa, but Birds of Southern Africa: Fourth Edition is an easy-to-use and convenient field guide for the region. With multiple colorful illustrations for many species, seasonality bars and useful text details, this field guide is the ideal choice for birders traveling from South Africa to southern Mozambique to Namibia and all bird-rich points in between."--Melissa Mayntz, About.com Birding/Wild Birds

About the Author

Ian Sinclair has traveled widely to view the world's birds and is the author of many books on bird identification. Phil Hockey is director of the University of Cape Town's Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Warwick Tarboton is a well-known bird expert, writer, and photographer, and the author of several books. Peter Ryan is associate professor at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, and president of BirdLife South Africa. He has also authored several books.
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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Field Guides
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Fourth edition (November 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069115225X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691152257
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ferro on March 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A slight improvement on the previous edition in terms of maps (which are now colour-coded) and new species (with updated taxonomy). The illustrations are actually produced at a touch larger scale, which is nice, however the pages have begun to look a bit crowded.
It may just be a printing error with my personal copy, but the plates seem too garish and over-coloured, as if someone has turned up the saturation a few notches too far. Call me fussy but they also have a somewhat unlikeable scaly, scratched effect. I would question wether the very "Robertsy" inclusion of afrikaans names (and sonograms in places) is really necessary. (If so why not include all the main languages of the region?).
The overall arrangement has been improved (no separate pages for in-flight illustrations, they all appear in one place within their species). There is also a helpful seasonality bar for each bird. So despite the relatively minor flaws I have listed, it is still the best and most useful field guide to the region.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Clarence E. Forsythe on August 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has full color plates of nearly every resident and migratory bird found in S.A. Plates are in full color and show juvenile and morph colors so that you can make clean decisions on what that bird "really is." Descriptions show known ranges, migratory occupation areas and timeframes, and even the rare sightings and unusual or unexpected locations where each species has been seen. However, it is the good organization and outstanding color plates showing profile, head feature, upper and lower wing features, and leggings that will keep you paging through this book on your trip. It is the right size to stuff in your day gear or car without getting in the way, so it is easy to keep handy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Long on March 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Birds of Southern Africa is probably the best available field guide to the birds of southern Africa. However, that does not mean it’s without shortcomings. Having more illustrations of each species (as with the Sibley guides) would be valuable. In most cases there were only two illustrations of each species, only rarely including alternate plumage or juvenile birds. There were several times while birding in South Africa that I had difficulty identifying birds in something other than the adult plumage usually illustrated in this book. On the other hand, providing more illustrations would significantly increase this book’s size from one that is already too large to be carried comfortable as a field guide. I also found that sometimes the distribution maps were inaccurate (this may be due to their small size). This was especially true of Lesotho, where I found four species (Green Wood-Hoopoe, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Pale-winged Starling, and Common Myna) that according to distribution maps in this book should not be found in that country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike "Madbirder" Nelson on April 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
The eighteen year run of this classic is now in its fourth edition with updated text, range maps and many illustrations but it keeps the core of the text and style of the 1993 original. Up front is a handy quick reference guide with all the groups illustrated with a page reference. The introduction is brief with a page or two on the nomenclature, endemism, how to use the book and two glossaries.

The 213 color plates are good to very good. Most are not too cramped but a few more could show multiple plumages where needed but in many cases both female and male are shown. Some of the additional confusing species like some of the nightjars, cisticolas and larks have sonograms with them now as well which is useful is you can read them, a short guide on how to read a sonogram might have helped. The range maps are in color with their resident, migration and winter ranges and two-tone for common and uncommon. There is also a status bar for breeding months and peak breeding times. The text is a little on the small size but does include good ID information as well as hints about voice and status and biology. Each group of birds also gets a little blurb about each which covers behavioral traits for each group.

Overall a good guide for use in the field. Not heavy and seemingly durable and should pack well on a day in the bush but that is subjective as I’ve seen a few people complain about the weight but it seems fine to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elliott Bedows on February 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In planning a birding trip to the Republic of South Africa, I obviously wanted the best field guide available, and I wanted it in BOOK format so I could personally write in every field mark I deemed valuable. After reading various reviews online, and borrowing the 3rd edition of this guide from friends, I ordered this field guide. I was NOT disappointed!! Considering the artwork, the updated range and migration maps - which were seriously compromised in the previous edition - the size of the guide and its relatively low price, it is clearly the best current book option available. The one very mild criticism of the book would be the somewhat arbitrary selection of sonograms the authors have included. While of marginal value, the space would have been better used for more artwork. Still, I now have been using this guide to study the birds I am most likely to see, and find it immensely useful. The guide has enhanced my anticipation for my upcoming trip later this year and - at the time of this writing - I would enthusiastically recommend the the birds of South Africa 4th edition, by Sinclair, Hockey, Tarbotton & Ryan, to anyone planning to bird in this area of the World over any other field guide.
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