Wildlife Activist, No.76, Autumn/Winter 2014, by Fritz Brock

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Wildlife Book Reviews

Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, Volume 1 Non-passerines by Josep del Hoyo and Nigel J. Collar. 2014. 903 pages. Cloth. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. $226.

For the first time, we will have two books (volume two is yet to be published) that illustrate all of the World's bird species. The first volume covers non-passerines and the second volume will include the passerines. These two books are probably the largest books on birds you will ever encounter. Volume one is about 900 pages and weighs over ten pounds. And it is not cheap, but is a bargain for the volume and quality of the contents. Here are some of the book's statistics: 4,371 extant species and 99 extinct species described, 350 plates with 8,400 bird illustrations, 4,427 distribution maps and 31 full page reference maps. Impressed? You should be.

The introduction explains why there is a new checklist, the speciation process and the species problem, species-level avian taxonomy, the Tobias criteria, using the checklist, and the future of the checklist.

Excellent charts, drawings, and photographs support all of this material. The main body of the book consists of a series of two-page spreads. On the right page of each spread is a plate with an illustration of each species and subspecies. Descriptions of the illustrated species are on the left page. Adjacent to each species description is a small world map showing the bird's distribution. These maps are small by necessity but, when used with the full-page reference maps, work quite well. There are no separate maps for subspecies. The descriptions on the left page gives the English, French, German, and Spanish name for each bird, other common names, taxonomic notes, and distribution . The extinct species are illustrated last. A section of larger maps and a bibliography follow the illustrations. If you want a book (two books, really) that show all of the world's 9000 plus species of birds, these books are a must.

Fritz Brock