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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars compact, complete, and accurate, July 12, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia (Collins Pocket Guide) (Hardcover)
This book is an indispensible tool for the birder in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, or Myanmar (Burma). Compact, complete, and accurate, King and Woodcock have done a fine job of presenting over a thousand species in a manageable size.
Dickinson's illustrations are good paintings, with the field marks clearly visible, and similar birds grouped for easy comparisons. It seems to me, though, that the heads are too big, especially on the smaller birds. Once the viewer gets used to this, however, the illustrations are very usable.
Unlike the latest American guides, the pictures do not appear opposite the text, but instead are on plates distributed through the book. Unfortunately, the text description for each bird lists only the plate number, not the page; I went through the book and added the facing page number of each plate to the text, a job which should have been done before the book hit the shelves.
The book does not use range maps, but rather breaks the Southeast Asia area into regions: 3 for Vietnam, 3 for Laos, 6 and a subregion for Thailand, and 6 plus several subregions for Myanmar. (Cambodia is a unit.) Since the areas follow natural boundaries more than political ones, the range descriptions are quite accurate as far as I can tell. (I have birded fairly extensively in Thailand.)
The book is not perfect by any means, as is to be expected in an area with as little professional naturalist exploration as Southeast Asia. In addition, sacrifices must be made to get all the birds of the area into a book which can be carried in the field. Any competent birder will discover facts not mentioned by King and Woodcock, and possibly see things that aren't supposed to be where they are. I saw birds which were clearly a given species, but lacked a field mark mentioned in the book; these may have been regional variations which space prevented the authors from discussing. But the authors have accomplished a Herculean task: to present a dizzying array of birds in a clear concise format which allows a stranger to the area to identify most of what he or she sees.
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A Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia (Collins Pocket Guide)
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