- Paperback: 440 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Random House South Africa; 1st Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1770073884
- ISBN-13: 978-1770073883
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,461,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Birds of Southern Africa: The Complete Photographic Guide Paperback – September 15, 2009
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This photographic field guide to the birds of southern Africa presents more than 2,500 images showing a wide selection of age and sex plumage variations, perched and in-flight birds, and color morphs where relevant, making it the most comprehensive collection of bird photographs of the region ever produced in a single volume. Accompanying text focuses on identification, call, status, breeding details and diet. Also included for each species is a distribution map and a calendar bar indicating occurrence and breeding months. IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A very useful photographic guide to the region! (Ian Paulsen, BirdBooker Report, Guardian newspaper)
About the Author
Peter Ryan is Director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, and a former president of BirdLife South Africa. He has authored and co-authored several books on birds, their identification and on the wildlife and conservation of the Subantarctic Islands.
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This is a very attractive book covering all 958 birds (plus 17 island and Antarctic species) known to occur in southern Africa. As with most guides to this region, southern is defined as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho. This book is a combination of two of the author's (Sinclair) prior books. Much like the "Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa ", all species in the region are included. And, like the large format book "Southern African Birds: A Photographic Guide", it contains high quality photos.
This new book has two improvements. One, nearly every species is shown with multiple photos (versus just one) to illustrate differences between genders and seasons. Just a few birds are shown with only nicely drawn illustrations (e.g., Mottled Swift, Green Tinkerbird). Nearly every photograph is new. I found only a few birds with photos copied from the earlier books. The second feature is an improved range map. This map uses 6 colors to denote common/uncommon status within three categories of resident, summer, and winter.
Nearly every photo is excellent. The color reproduction is to be commended as well. Some photos are slightly small (none less than 1 inch) but this does not distract from their quality. Most of the photographs are of decent size. In order to fit 9-16 photos on every page, the book was printed on larger pages. It's also nice to see the hawks shown both perched and in flight.
The size of this book (10 x 6.5 inches) and its weight will make it somewhat bulky in the field. You'll need a small satchel or oversized pocket in which to carry it. I think a better use of the book will be back at camp or home where the day's bird sightings are re-examined after using a standard illustrated guide in the field. However, that is my standard opinion for any photographic field guide.
The text for each bird consists of a brief paragraph with an average of 7-9 lines. Half of the content focuses on identification with the remainder on voice, status/biology, and diet. The identification material is concise and useful, but lacks sufficient depth for the more difficult groups such and wheatears, pipits, larks, warblers, or greenbuls. An illustrated field guide is recommended to compliment this book for illustrating race and age variations; and, for providing more identification material.
This book is definitely worth having for its top quality photographs, the multiple poses, and for its completeness of all species in the region. There is not better photo guide. As for an identification/field guide, I recommend other books by either Sinclair or by Chittenden or by Newman. -- (written by Soleglad at Avian Review / Avian Books, July 2009)
I've listed several related books below...
1) Southern African Birds: A Photographic Guide by Sinclair/Davidson
2) Complete Book of Southern African Birdsby Ginn/McIlleron
3) Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair
4) Roberts Bird Guide: A Comprehensive Field Guide Southern Africa by Chittenden
5) Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair/Hockey/Tarboton
6) Sasol Birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair
7) Newman's Birds of Southern Africa by Newman
8) Birds of Africa South of the Sahara by Sinclair/Ryan
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.
I spent some time doing research on which might be the best resource for information on the bird life of southern Africa and this title kept popping up. Ian Sinclair has a reputation for producing excellent product and I completely agree. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to identify the birds on their Southern African Safari.
Helped me a lot in a trip a did last year, and I still use it, especcially because there are some subspecies that are not found in pocket guides or other books I bought.