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Field Guides & Natural History  Ornithology  Non-Passerines  Birds of Prey

African Raptors

Field / Identification Guide Flora / Fauna Monograph
By: William S Clark(Author), Rob Davies(Illustrator), Peter Steyn(Foreword By)
336 pages, 52 plates with colour illustrations; 300+ colour photos, colour distribution maps
Publisher: Helm
The most comprehensive guide to African raptors ever published.
African Raptors
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Average customer review
  • African Raptors ISBN: 9780713665383 Hardback Aug 2018 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 5 days
Price: £75.00
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About this book

Due to its large land mass and impressive variety of habitats, Africa has the most diverse range of raptors of any continent – with almost a third of the world's species occurring in the region. These diurnal birds of prey are well known for their hooked bill and powerful talons, as well as their keen vision that enables them to accurately detect their prey during flight.

This authoritative guide, part of the Helm Identification series, features all 106 species found in Africa, with particular emphasis on their field identification. Encompassing falcons, eagles, ospreys, kites, vultures and more, African Raptors discusses the identification of both perched and flying birds, bringing together the very latest research with accurate distribution maps, more than 300 colour photographs and 52 superb plates that illustrate a broad range of ages and racial plumage differences.

African Raptors is the ultimate reference on these remarkable birds, and will be indispensable for all birders and ornithologists with an interest in birds of prey.

Customer Reviews (1)

  • Worth getting despite a few errors
    By Keith 9 Oct 2019 Written for Hardback
    When you include the early Croom Helm and Pica Press editions, the Helm Identification Series now covers over fifty titles, but this is the first to focus on Africa. It covers all 107 raptor species that occur in Africa either as breeding species or migrants. Bill Clark is well known for his expertise on American raptors and he has travelled widely away from his home in the USA. Before moving back to the UK, Rob Davies was based in South Africa and took a special interest in raptors and set up the African Raptor Databank. He is responsible for the 52 colour plates.

    The taxonomy followed is basically that of IOC but with the splitting away of Ethiopian Goshawk Accipiter unduliventer, which IOC and Clements treat as a race of African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro but HBW/Birdlife puts into Red-chested Goshawk Accipiter toussenelli.

    An introductory section explains how the book is set out and could perhaps have been used to explain how African raptors live. For example, it would have been useful to have at least some information on raptor ecology and perhaps an overview of the amazing migrations that some species undertake, plus the challenges that they face both in Europe and Africa. Although this book gives plenty of information on identification it does not discuss conservation at any point which is a missed opportunity.

    Rob Davies’s plates are all at the front end of the book, and are very pleasing. Each faces a page with captions and most species are shown against a suitable habitat background. Personally, I prefer such illustrations to be free of backgrounds which I find tend to take away from my ability to detect the subtleties of plumage colouration. However, they are impressive illustrations and are clearly labelled.

    These are followed by the species accounts which cover identification, measurements, taxonomy, geographical variation, similar species, status and distribution, habitat, behaviour and moult. There is also a more detailed explanation of plumage according to sex and age, and there are references to unusual plumage variations and hybrids. There is also an explanation of the origins behind the species’ English and scientific names. Each species text is accompanied by a decent-sized colour map indicating range and seasonality and these are really clear. A list of around 300 references is given and these focus mostly on identification and moult.

    The main texts are accompanied by a useful set of 322 colour photographs, and it is good to see these interspersed within the text rather than bunched together in one section. As I personally work on the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus I immediately turned to that species and unfortunately the first photograph I saw was incorrect – a juvenile labelled as an adult. I would also like to have seen a wider selection of images showing the different races of this and other species both perched. No doubt in some cases such images are not available but a quick check of the African Bird Club’s freely-available AFBID photo database shows that many suitable images exist but were not included.

    Sadly it seems that a number of labelling errors exist on other photographs and these will hopefully be corrected in later additions of the book. Despite these errors, it is great to see Africa’s raptors put in the spotlight.
    15 of 16 found this helpful - Was this helpful to you? Yes No
Field / Identification Guide Flora / Fauna Monograph
By: William S Clark(Author), Rob Davies(Illustrator), Peter Steyn(Foreword By)
336 pages, 52 plates with colour illustrations; 300+ colour photos, colour distribution maps
Publisher: Helm
The most comprehensive guide to African raptors ever published.
Media reviews

"This much-anticipated and long-awaited book has been the talk of many raptorphiles across the African continent. As a Helm Identification Guide, it is both a trusted and authoritative reference book as well as being compact enough to fit in the car or bag as required. [...] The text is suitably comprehensive [...] The accurate distribution maps are one of the outstanding features of the book [...] African Raptors will undoubtedly become a keynote reference for any student of raptors in Africa and beyond."
– Malcolm Wilson, Bulletin of African Bird Club 26(2), September 2019

"Another quality guide from the Helm stable, African Raptors covers all 106 species that are found on the continent. The book follows the Helm Identification Guide format putting the colour plates in the first half of the book followed by the map and text pages in the second half. [...] Anyone with an interest in African Raptors will want this book, but it will also appeal to anyone with an interest in beautiful books."
– Paul Stancliffe, BTO book reviews


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