Scottish Birds, 35:1 (2015), p. 71, March 2015

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HBW and Birdlife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Josep del Hoyo, Nigel J. Collar, David A. Christie, Andrew Elliott & Lincoln D. C. Fishpool, 2014. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, ISBN 978-84-96553-94-1, hardback, 903 pages, £145 (€185).

Based on the 17-volume Handbook of Birds of the World, this book represents the first of two volumes of a new World checklist. This volume covers the non-passerines. Several other World checklists are available and they are all very much cheaper; what this one has that the others do not is that colour plates and range maps are included for every species. The book is in familiar HBW style. The species accounts fill the bulk of the book. For each species, the scientific and English vernacular names are given, together with French, German and Spanish names, alternative English names where these are in common usage, a cross-reference to the species entry in HBW, and the IUCN Red List status. The brief species accounts are largely taken up with taxonomic notes and a list of subspecies, together with authorities, dates of description and brief distributional data. A set of maps is included at the back of the back of the book. The lengthy introduction is largely devoted to a discussion of species-level taxonomy and an explanation of the ‘Tobias criteria’ which have been used, as far as possible for decisions on splits or lumps adopted in the Checklist. The revision of species limits on the basis of these criteria, although scientifically questionable, makes the Checklist an original taxonomic work. Whether or not you already own the full set of HBW, this ‘HBW-lite’ represents a handy, up-to-date and authoritative overview of the World’s birds.

Martin Collinson