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Showing 1-10 of 16 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 37 reviews
on July 29, 2015
This was the field guide I used for a short birding visit to Kenya, July 2015. I was relatively inexperienced with this avifauna, but I was able to identify just about all the birds I encountered, with the help of this book--and that of a superb local expert, Brian Finch. Without Mr. Finch, my birding partner and I would have spent much more time paging through our field guides. My friend had a copy of Stevenson and Fanshawe. It was helpful to have two books on hand, but I much preferred the Zimmerman book, since it covers only Kenya and a tiny slice of Tanzania, rather than East Africa in its entirety. Excellent as it is, the Zimmerman book does suffer from one shortcoming. Not having the range maps on the same page as the picture and text is a nuisance. I made up for that by marking up the book in pencil before the trip; I drew a little box beside the name of any of the species expected in the area where I planned to bird on this trip. Thus I would not waste time in the field looking at species from areas away from Nairobi. The pictures on the plates are numbered, rather than having the bird's name next to each picture; I pencilled in the names of all the likely species right next to their pictures, so that I would not waste time trying to figure out what bird was depicted on Plate 84, "5b." Since this book is now over 15 years old, I also found it useful to update the names of the birds. This is something I do before any international trip anyway, but in this case, there were many, many name changes to pencil in here and there. For example, that "5b" on Plate 84 is no longer the Common Fiscal--it is the Northern Fiscal. New visitors to Kenya might find it confusing to use this book if they have not boned up on the taxonomy before the trip, since so many splits and renamings have occurred. All in all, I found this to be a very good bird book, albeit one dating from a previous generation in the evolving history of birding field guides. In my opinion, all new birding field guides, and all subsequent revisions of existing ones, should follow the best possible format. That format has existed since the 1960's, when it appeared, I believe, in the old Chandler S. Robbins "Golden Guide" for North America. This format is used in the Sibley field guides, as well as in the wonderful Mullarney et al. The text and map for a given species should be on the left of the spread, with the pictures on the right. The name of each bird should be printed next to the picture. Period.
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on June 28, 2012
I bought "Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania" and "Birds of East Africa" (which focuses on the same region) in anticipation of an upcoming trip. Both books are much larger and heavier than I expected, especially for the price, but that just reflects the wealth of knowledge and page after page of color plates.

Because both are so heavy, now I need to decide which of the two to take. Because "Birds of East Africa" has range maps printed opposite the color plates, I think it will be the more useful book to have in the field.

When I get home, I'll update my review.
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on January 21, 2011
I was a bit confused for two reasons:
1. The book I received from Amazon had a different cover than the one on the product page. Both, however, seem to be the same 1999 edition;

2. My guide in Kenya, as luck would have it -- the trip was organized by my travel companion -- an absolute bird lover, carried a 1999 Helm Field Guides edition called, imagine this, "Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania" with him at all times. As unfortunately my book arrived late and I went to Kenya without it, I used the guide's guide (!) a lot. When I returned, I looked at my copy and it was identical to his. One is a Princeton edition, the other a Helm one. Perhaps because the former is a US edition and the latter a UK one.

Confusion aside, and no matter if it's Princeton or Helm, anyone who goes to Kenya and looks at treetops / sky as well as the savannah needs one. The illustrations are precise (although nothing can be precise enough to allow for ID of Cisticolas in the field!) and complete; the texts are concise and, as far as I can tell, accurate. As a field guide the Princeton is quite heavy -- paper quality is good and, thus, so are the print colors -- and hefty, but you deserve that if you go birdwatching in a country with around 1,300 species.

My one gripe with the guide is how the contents are organized. The page numbers listed refer to the species accounts -- pages 269 to 563 --, not the color plates. Let's say you're looking for a Hornbill. The family's account is on pg. 397. Go there to find out its color plate number. You must first visit the species account pages and from there flip back to the beginning of the book and one of the 124 color plates. Not exactly practical when you're trying to ID a strange bird in the field.

Talking of Hornbills specifically...The family is divided between "Large Ground Birds", plate 30, where the editors seem to have dumped five small genera, and the family itself, plate 63.

One word of advice: although several of the higher-end hotels in the parks carry the 2005 updated Helm edition, get your copy before departing to Kenya. In it costs $23 and in it sells for £18. At the Kenyan hotel gift shops the price tag is around $50! And, according to my Kenyan guide, the 2005 edition is no diferent from the 1999 one, with the same illustrations and info. The van Berlo Kenyan birds guide some other gift shops there offer is less expensive but admittedly incomplete, so not enough if you're a hard-core birdwatcher.
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on April 19, 2016
This guide is extremely comprehensive and nicely illustrated. However, the older, used copy I bought is VERY heavy (paperback, but.. ). I don't think I'll be traveling with it, but I'll try to absorb some basics ahead of my trip to these areas.
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on September 23, 2016
Excellent reference book for birdwatchers casual and serious. The only reason I don't give it all 5 stars is that the Index only has scientific names, not common names. The book would have been much easier to use if I could lookup a bird by its common name.
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on August 11, 2014
Another great guide to this part of the world's avifauna and very helpful in conjunction with the other available Princeton Field guide "The Birds of East Africa: Kenya. Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi.
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on December 13, 2010
The book is exactly what I had in mind for an upcoming trip to Kenya and Tanzania to check out the wildlife. Highly recommended.
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on September 7, 2012
Kenya has some of the best bird-watching areas on the planet. With over 1000 species from 8ft tall ostriches and fearsome eagles to dainty sunbirds and finches so small they look like big moths, and everything in-between, there is plenty to reward every birder. Even an afternoon in a suburban Nairobi garden can easily yield 30 species,
This guide is the most comprehensive resource by a long margin, featuring excellent well organized illustrations, and useful identification info.
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on March 14, 2013
The colors in the drawings in this book have an annoying red to brownish tone.
This makes it difficult to seperate species that is alike.

Price is superb.
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on April 21, 2015
Was disappointed in the quality and colors of the illustrations and that the descriptions are not side-by-side.
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