BTO News - 209, March-April 1997

BTO News
209, March-April 1997

Handbook of the Birds of the World- Volume 3, Hoatzin to Auks.
Eds. J del Hoyo, A Elliott, J Sargatal. 1997.

Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 8-48733-420-2. 821 pp., £ 105.00. Hb.

One only has to open this book to see the extremely high standards the publishers have set themselves. At first, I found myself not working through the book in any order, merely turning over page after page wondering where I would have to go to see the species photographed. The photographs are of amazing quality and introduce the reader (certainly this one) not only to new species but also to new families. I was stunned to see the photograph of South Africa's Blue Cranes and made a note to catch up with this species sometime in the future. Perhaps the accompanying text could have included the name of the species in bold since they act more as an additional text rather than as labels for the photographs.

Rather than acting as an identification guide, HBW attempts to illustrate and describe every species currently known as well as keeping abreast of recent thoughts in taxonomy - no mean feat bearing in mind the amount of work currently being undertaken by different authorities. The last eighty or so pages are purely references which gives us some idea of the work that has gone into this book.

My only reservation in recommending this book is that once you have bought one, you really feel you have to buy all of them! However, if they are all of this standard, your money is well spent and gives you an excuse for buying a sturdy new bookcase!.

Reviewed by Richard Bashford, who is the Breeding Bird Survey Organiser at BTO HQ.