Field / Identification Guide
By: Lars Svensson(Author), Killian Mullarney(Illustrator), Dan Zetterström(Illustrator), David A Christie(Translated by)
478 pages, 4000+ colour illustrations, 700 colour distribution maps
The ultimate reference book for bird enthusiasts – now in its third edition.
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About this book
About this book
With expanded text and additional colour illustrations, the third edition of the hugely successful Collins Bird Guide is a must for every birdwatcher.
The new edition has an extra 32 pages allowing several groups more space and completely or partly new plates with more detailed text: grouse, loons, several groups of raptors, terns, owls, swifts, woodpeckers, swallows, redstarts and some other relatives to the flycatchers (formerly often called ‘small thrushes’), tits and a few finches and buntings are some of these. More than 50 plates are either new or have been repainted, completely or partly. Apart from this, a few new vignettes have been added. The section with vagrants has been expanded to accommodate more images and longer texts for several species. The entire text and all maps have of course also been revised.
The book provides all the information needed to identify any species at any time of the year, covering size, habitat, range, identification and voice. Accompanying every species entry is a distribution map and illustrations showing the species in all the major plumages (male, female, immature, in flight, at rest, feeding: whatever is important).
In addition, each group of birds includes an introduction which covers the major problems involved in identifying or observing them: how to organise a sea watching trip, how to separate birds of prey in flight, which duck hybrids can be confused with which main species. These and many other common birdwatching questions are answered.
The combination of definitive text, up-to-date distribution maps and superb illustrations, all in a single volume, makes this book the ultimate field guide, essential on every bookshelf and birdwatching trip.
Please note that there are currently no plans for a large-format version of the hardback as was done for previous editions.
Customer Reviews (1)
The best field guide in the world?
23 Dec 2022
Written for Paperback
It was way back in 1999 that birders all over the UK were anxiously anticipating the arrival of the first edition of this revolutionary book, which was first published in Swedish before being translated. A sign of its continuing success is that 23 years later the same excitement has surrounded the arrival of the third edition! Back in 1999, it cost £25 and at 400 pages it contained around 3,500 paintings and 700 distribution maps. My guess is that most people reading this review will have the first and/or second editions of this book and many will have it as a smartphone app too. So will you spot many differences in the third edition?
Firstly the good news – the price has only moved up to £30. The second edition had 448 pages and now we are up to 476. Collins have done well on that price – they need to persuade us to buy a second (or third copy). But is much else new? The answer is yes. The new edition uses those extra pages well, allowing several groups more space. More than 50 plates are either new or have been repainted completely or partly. Hans Larsson has painted some of the vagrants and introduced species. I found changes to illustrations and/or text for the grouse, divers, several groups of raptors, terns, owls, swifts, woodpeckers, swallows, redstarts, flycatchers, tits, finches and buntings. Apart from this, a few new vignettes have been added. The section with vagrants has been expanded to accommodate more images and longer texts for several species. The entire text and all maps have also been revised. For example, very helpfully the details for Marsh Tit now mention the white spot to look for on the base of the upper mandible – a game-changer for anyone trying to rule out Willow Tit. There are plenty of useful tips like that.
Like any book, it's not without typos – and the one worth noting is that the species introductions on waders and gulls are on pages 136-137 and 182-183 and not as stated in the text. The latest BOU taxonomy places falcons just after woodpeckers but I am pleased to say that in this field guide falcons are still placed just before rails – which is where you would naturally expect to find them. The reproduction of the plates is good and in each edition these have been improved.
The previous editions eventually appeared in addition as softbacks, so we can expect that to arrive in a few years, and I am told that the app will be updated sometime in the first half of 2023.
If you’ve never bought the Collins Bird Guide before then you really should. It includes a lot of birds that you’ll never see in the UK but the illustrations and text are the best available anywhere. If you’ve already got one or both of the earlier editions, then like me, the cover is probably falling off or has gone already! You won’t be disappointed with this new one.
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Lars Svensson is Europe's leading field ornithologist. Killian Mullarney is one of the world's finest bird illustrators. Winner of numerous awards, this is the first guide that he has illustrated. Dan Zetterström is widely acclaimed for his bird illustrations.