464 pages, Colour illustrations
Birds as a non-fiction publishing subject surely has the potential of art; perhaps it is more popular than fashion or maps. "The Bird Book" is produced with similar values to "The Art Book" and its successors. The paintings are reason alone to buy the book: they are attractive, absorbing images in their own right. This is also a useful bird recognition guide: the artwork is accurate, with more than enough plumage and anatomical detail to separate every species. Peter Hayman, the artist, is well known in the bird world for his uniquely precise depiction of almost every feather and for showing exact body proportions.
To help with identification, two essential basic features are provided: A distribution map and size comparison silhouettes. And the text provides tips on distinguishing the species from look-alikes. The book stops short of exploring the complications of male and female differences, adult and juvenile or summer and winter visitor, except when this information is needed to pinpoint identification. In this sense, "The Bird Book" is not a mainstream field guide. A book you have to have - or give to someone else.
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