Scottish Birds 34 1 (2014) p.49 by Robin Sellers

Handbook of the Birds of  the World, Special Volume: New Species and Global Index 2013.
Edited by J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal & D. Christie,
Lynx Edicions,
ISBN 978-84- 96553-88-0,
hardback, 812 pages,

2011 saw the publication of the sixteenth and apparently final volume of the Handbook of the Birds of the World, one of the most ambitious and successful publishing ventures ever undertaken in ornithology. We are now treated to one further 'Special Volume'. The original sixteen were built around concise accounts of every species of bird known to science, each individually illustrated.

This new volume is rather different. Following a short introduction there are five main sections, a short first one describing the work of BirdLife International (59 pages; inspiring), a second dealing with avian classi- fication and the impact of recent advances based on DNA (70 pages; a good overview but definitely not for the faint- hearted), the third with newly discovered species (164 pages; interesting but primarily of interest to the specialist), the fourth, some 200 photographs (175 pages; a joy to peruse) and finally a global index (309 pages; worthy but dull). Production standards are every bit as good as the previous volumes, but, interesting though it is, this special volume only really makes sense in connection with what has gone before, and the target audience is presumably those who have subscribed to the previous sixteen volumes. For those who have not, my advice would be to look elsewhere for books to buy.

Robin Sellers