BTO News - November-December 2002

BTO News
November-December 2002

Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers

Edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott and Jordi Sargatal. 2002. Lynx Edicions. Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-37-7. 613pp. £110. Hb.

It has been ten years since Lynx Edicions published the first volume in the series Handbook of the Birds of the World and the publication of this seventh volume, covering the Jacamars, Puffbirds, Barbets, Toucans, Honeyguides and Woodpeckers, completes the series' coverage of non-passerines. The layout of the book principally follows the earlier volumes with comprehensive sections for each family that cover taxonomy, morphology, ecology and conservation; these are accompanied by a large number of photographs. Following these introductory sections are the identification plates and species accounts. As with the previous volume the foreword has been expanded into a separate section. Here, author Errol Fuller, presents an overview of extinctions in birds as well as descriptions of extinct species and our current knowledge of them.

When first looking through this book I was taken by the amount of photographs that it contained and must confess that my first thought was that this was a bit excessive. However, on closer examination I found that the quality of the photographs meant that they became an important part of the book. I was particularly impressed that many of the photographs captured the behaviour of the birds, sometimes through a series of images, such as the photographs of excavating woodpeckers and feeding toucans. Additionally the detailed texts that accompany the photographs help to justify the use of this number of images.

The species accounts are easy to navigate around being clearly presented, as are the distribution maps and sub-headings. The plates again are clearly laid out and the quality of the artwork is in keeping with the rest of the book. To my surprise I found that this book is more than an identification resource. As well as being a comprehensive reference source, the additional sections and introductory chapters to the families provide interesting and informative reading. I will certainly be making use of this book.

by Mark P Collier, birdwatcher and active ringer from University of East Anglia.