Bulletin of the British Ornithological Club - March 2001

Bulletin of the British Ornithological Club
March 2001


del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A., & Sargatal, J. (eds). l999. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol 5, Barn-owls to Hummingbirds. Pp 759, 75 colour plates, c.400 colour photographs, 756 distribution maps, c.8,000 bibliographical references. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-25-3. £110.

Lynx Edicions, in conjunction with BirdLife International, have produced another marvellous, comprehensive and consistent volume in the HBW series. With this volume, nearly half of the families in the class Aves have now been covered within the first seven years of publication of the project (the whole targeted for completion within the next ten years).

Vol. 5 begins with an extensive Foreward, by N. J. Collar, on Risk Indicators and Status Assessment in Birds. Risk Indicators are discussed in relation to distribution, population and ecology; Status Assessment refers to the new IUCN criteria (evaluation of probability of a taxon becoming extinct), problems of data quality and consistency of judgement, and future prospects including the survival of protected areas. The Introduction to this volume briefly mentions the overall concept of the project as detailed in Vol. 1 of the series, together with additional points of interest given in Vols. 2-4, and also to BirdLife's rapidly expanding database which permits an increasingly accurate status assessment for every bird species (as outlined in the Foreward).

This volume details the three Orders Strigiformes, Caprimulgiformes and Apodiformes, classified into the families Barn-owls, Typical owls, Oilbird, Owlet - nightjars, Frogmouths, Potoos, Nightjars, Swifts, Tree-swifts and Hummingbirds. The extensive family accounts are described under the headings of Systematics, Morphological Aspects, Habitat, General Habits, Voice, Food and Feeding, Breeding, Movements, Relationships with Man, Status and Conservation, followed by a General Bibliography. The individual species accounts following a particular family account include notes on taxonomy, distribution (including maps), status and conservation, and a further particular bibliography. The volume includes the recently erected species Otus alius (Nicobar Scops-owl) (Bull. Brit. Orn. Cl. 118(3): 141-153) and Otus collari (Sangihe Scops-owl) (Bull. Brit. Orn. Cl. 118(4): 204-217).

As in previous volumes, the editors acknowledge the great importance of the extensive assistance given to the project by many museums, libraries, sound archives and individuals. All the c.8,000 references indicated throughout the text are also given in full in a General Bibliography at the end of the volume, requiring some 55 pages of text. Weighing in at about 4kg, this volume raises the series weight so far to a healthy 19kg - may your bookshelves never complain!

S J Farnsworth