The Wilson Bulletin - June 2002

The Wilson Bulletin
June 2002

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD, VOLUME 7: JACAMARS TO WOODPECKERS. Edited by Joseph del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, and Jordi Sargatal. Lynx Editions, Barcelona, Spain. 2002: 613 pp., 49 color plates and numerous color photographs. $185 (cloth). -This book covers the Galbuliformes and the Piciformes, thus completing the coverage of the nonpasserines in the Handbook of the birds of the world. The forward to this book, written by Errol Fuller, is an extensive discussion of extinct birds. The 58-page forward includes a general introduction to rarity, reasons for extinction, and hypothetical species, those that are known from only a single specimen or from a description. Brief descriptions of extinct species follow the general introduction and cover 72 species that are generally recognized as extinct. These accounts include the well-known cases of the Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis), Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), and Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis), but also cover many less-well-known species, including a disturbing number of birds that were endemic to various islands and island archipelagos. The attention to detail in the forward is demonstrated by the extensive list of references, which covers five pages.

The organization of the text is similar to previous volumes. The family accounts begin with a range map and general description of members of the family. The text that follows this introduction is organized into sections on systematics, morphological aspects, habitat, general habits, voice, food and feeding, breeding, movements, relationship with man, status and conservation, and a general bibliography. The text is accompanied by numerous well-chosen photographs of family members. Following the text on each family are individual species accounts that provide taxonomic information including the scientific name and names in French, Spanish, and German; information on the original description; and information about superspecies, subspecies, and races. A description of the family's distribution is accompanied by a range map. Additional sections within the individual accounts cover descriptive notes, habitat, food and feeding, breeding, movements, status and conservation, and a bibliography. J. A. Tobias authored the section on the jacamars (Galbulidae) and coauthored the species accounts for this family with T. Zchner and T. A. de Melo-Júnior. The section on the Bucconidae (puffbirds) was authored by P. C. Rasmussen and N. J. Collar. L. L. Short and J. F. M. Horne coauthored three of the four family accounts within the Piciformes, which cover the Capitonidae (barbets), the Ramphastidae (toucans), and the Indicatoridae (honeyguides). The section covering the Picidae (woodpeckers) was written by H. Winkler and D. A. Christie.

A laminated index to the first seven volumes of the Handbook of the birds of the world is included with volume 7. One side is organized systematically and includes illustrations of a representative member of each family as well as the volume and page number for the family description. The other side of the index is in alphabetical order and includes orders, families, and general common names.

In the introduction to volume 7, the editors discuss the results of a poll in which they asked readers whether they preferred "the recent trend of longer, fuller texts, more photos, and more extensive coverage of subspecific variation on more plates." An overwhelming 93% of the almost 3,000 respondents preferred the expanded coverage, even if it resulted in more than the originally estimated 12 volumes in this series. The editors have made a wise decision to continue their expanded coverage and make this indispensable reference even more useful to ornithologists. As with previous volumes in this series, this volume is a must in any ornithological library.

by Sara R. Morris