- Hardcover: 436 pages
- Publisher: Western Australian Museum (January 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0730712087
- ISBN-13: 978-0730712084
- Package Dimensions: 13.5 x 9.8 x 1.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,962,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Handbook of Western Australian Birds (v. 1) Hardcover – January 1, 1998
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Top customer reviews
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This is the first of two volumes covering all the birds in the state of Western Australia (not just the generic western parts of Australia). This state covers 1/3 of Australia and contains 2/3 of all the species in the country. This large (9 ½ by 12 ½ inches) book is heavy and is filled with excellent plates, drawings, maps, and information on the non-passerine species (Emus through Kingfishers). The second volume (2004) covers the passerines.
The 42 color and 3 black-and-white plates display all the birds of Western Australia. These plates are done very well and usually show multiple illustrations for each bird. The quality of the artwork is good, but just a notch below the best field guides for Australia. There are typically 6-15 species and 15-30 illustrations per plate. The large size of the plate allows most of the birds to be shown in a nice size, except for the somewhat small albatrosses. Another 60 black-and-white illustrations are distributed throughout the book. These are of excellent quality and often focus on more detailed identification features of the birds. These illustrate tail or wing feathers, bills, facial patterns, or in-flight wing patterns.
Another 30 color photograph plates show eggs for nearly 230 species. These are quality photos showing all eggs in life size. Multiple samples are often provided to show variation. A wonderful inclusion is the comparison of the parasitic cuckoo eggs alongside the host's eggs.
The text offered for each bird ranges from 2 paragraphs to 2 pages, depending on the status of the bird in the region. This information is very thorough, covering description, habitat, status, food, breeding, voice, behavior, and measurement. The description takes up about half of the text. The voice receives the least information with 1-2 lines.
These descriptions are detailed and can certainly be used to help identify the birds but their style is oriented to be more factually descriptive versus pointing out identification features. There is little to no comparison to other species.
The large (3 x 4 inches) range maps are nicely detailed with geographic features labeled. For birds with a more limited range, the map zooms in to show greater detail for the bird. My only minor critique of the maps is they are not labeled with the bird's name. When looking at a map, it is sometimes necessary to scan the page - or to even turn the page - to know which bird is being depicted.
My only other small critique concerns finding the plates mentioned in the text. Next to the bird's name is listed "Plate 4" but not the page number where you can find Plate 4. You must thumb either forward or backyard a couple or many pages to find it. The plates are not grouped together, but are distributed throughout the book.
This book is an excellent reference that is informative, attractive, and useful. It is a must-have for any avid birder in Australia.
I've listed several related books below...
1) Handbook of Western Australian Birds: Vol II, Passerines by Johnstone/Storr (ISBN 1920843116)
2) Field Guide to the Birds of Western Australia by Storr/Johnstone
3) Birds of Western Australia by Serventy
4) Birds of southwestern Australia by Saunders/Ingram
5) Birds of Australia, 7th ed. by Simpson/Day
6) Complete Book of Australian Birds by Reader's Digest
7) Birds of Australia by Macdonald
8) Photographic Field Guide: Birds of Australia by Flegg
9) Field Guide to Australian Birds by Morcombe
10) The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, 7th ed. by Pizzey