784 pages, 367 col plates
Written, illustrated and published by the late Tim Westoll, this extraordinary book is unquestionably the most comprehensive visual guide to the birds of the world - 10,300 species are depicted in colour (thumbnail illustrations) on the 367 plates. In every case the male is painted in full breeding plumage, plus 2,500 females when these differ substantially from the male in size or colour. Around one-third of the illustrations are the result of first-hand observation in the field. For the remainder the author was reliant on museum specimens, illustrations and occasionally, when no illustration appeared to exist, on a written description alone. The book's organisation is based on A Checklist of the Birds of the World (Gruson, 1976 - essentially the Peter's sequence) with additions and modifications gleaned from Walters, Clements, Howard & Moore and Sibley and Monroe. Species information (scientific name, common name, number of subspecies, length in centimetres, range) is given on facing pages. Produced in a stout hardcover binding, the book is the same size as Helm identification guides. With between 20-30 species illustrated per plate, the book has inherent limitations, which reviewers in the birding press will undoubtedly discuss at length! Whilst field guides and handbooks can clearly provide much more comprehensive coverage on a regional or family basis, this reference is a gallant, heroic first attempt at an illustrated guide to the world's birds in a portable format.
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