Wildlife Activist - Autumn/Winter 2007

View review in PDF: 

Wildlife Activist
Autumn/Winter 2007 

Handbook of the Birds of the World: Volume 12, Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees, ed. by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliot, and David Christie. 2007. Cloth. 816 pages. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain. $250.

Volume 12 of Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) continues the definitive series on the world's avifauna. HBW is an impressive achievement, a comprehensive work on all the world's birds that is the epitome of scientific accuracy and breadth as well as a beautiful work of art. The standards maintained throughout this series have led to an immensely valuable work for conservation and a treasure trove of ornithological information. It is hard to imagine the amount of time, money, and expertise brought to bear on this project.

The introduction to this volume is a treatise on fossil birds, documenting the evolution and diversification of birds for the past 150 million years. Volume 12 continues coverage of the passerines, including 15 families, mostly of Asian, African, and Australian species. Fourteen of the families will be unfamiliar to many American birders, while the last family, Paridae, includes some of the most, familiar of American birds - chickadees and titmice. Other, families include Parrotbills, Whisstlers, Logrunners, Jewel-babblers, Australasian Robins, Bristlebirds, Thornbills, Australian Chats, Sitellas, and Treecreepers. One family, the Picathartes is comprised of only two strange West African species, while the Babblers include over 300 species found throughout Africa and southern Asia (plus the Wrentit from California). As with all volumes, the family accounts are presented first, addressing systematics, morphology, habitat, behavior, voice, feeding, breeding, movements, relationship with man, status, conservation, and a bibliography. The family accounts are richly illustrated with outstanding color photographs depicting the various characteristics and behaviors of the families. The species accounts follow with expertly painted color plates, common names in English, French, German, and Spanish, as well as a distribution map and information on the same topics as the family accounts.

Illustrated with 56 color plates, 436 color photographs, 638 range maps, and documented with more than 4000 bibliographic references, the volume is as rich visually as scientifically. Once again, we congratulate the authors, editors, production staff plus BirdLife International and Lynx Edicions for producing this monumental series. Sure to be a much sought after classic, this series is a must have for ornithologists, serious birders, and academic libraries, and is certain to become much more valuable with time. Most highly recommended.  

Dan Kunkle