You can read our interview with the authors here.
This unique and spectacular handbook is the most complete and comprehensive photographic guide to the passerines of the Western Palearctic. Written by two of the world's most respected ornithologists, Hadoram Shirihai and Lars Svensson, it contains the most up-to-date information available on bird identification covering all aspects of plumage, moult, ageing and sexing, with sections on voice and other identification criteria, and detailed taxonomic notes.
The passerines are divided into two volumes, with the first covering larks, hirundines, pipits and wagtails, bulbuls, accentors, robins, chats, wheatears, thrushes, prinias and cisticolas, and warblers, and the second covering flycatchers, reedlings, tits, nuthatches, orioles and sunbirds, shrikes, corvids, finches and buntings, along with extreme vagrants.
The exceptional text is backed up by a remarkable collection of more than 5,000 photographs, featuring a comprehensive range of plumages that illustrate every race and morph of each species in the region. This stunning handbook will be the definitive reference for the region for years to come - no birder's shelf will be complete without it.
Please note that, in contrast what has been announced earlier, this set will not be available as individual volumes, only as a 2-volume set.
a"Many BB readers will remember the similarly long-awaited publication of the Handbook of Bird Identification (Beaman & Madge 1998). That which fulfilled a similar remit to the current publication, still stands as a monumental piece of work, a tribute to the knowledge and skill of the authors and artists, but by the time it was published large parts were superseded, such that it was no longer the essential reference that it would have been, had it been ready a few years earlier. Does HWPB avoid the same fate? Is it timely, and is it essential? [...] We may not agree with all [the authors's] decisions [...], but we cannot question the authority and depth of knowledge that underlies the text of this book – it is a rework, not a rehash. [...] So, is HWPB timely? Yes. Is it essential? Well, it contains a lot of quality reference information, and you would be crazy if you felt that you didn't want to know what these authors have to say about Western Palearctic birds. Its intention is not to replace any of the standard references such as Svensson's ringing guide, the Collins Bird Guide or BWP, but it will certainly end up sitting side by side on the same shelf and included in that same 'default reference material' set. Like BWP, the fact that HWPB is already an abbreviation should tell you what an indispensable and well-thumbed reference it will be in the years to come."
– Martin Collinson and Stephen Menzie, British Birds 111 (October 2018)
"Many ornithologists already have the multi-volume Birds of the Western Palearctic or the Concise BWP on their shelves. This new work covers almost the same ground geographically, though adding Iran and all of Arabia and following national boundaries across Africa, but it differs in concentrating on specific and racial identification, ageing and sexing. It is a massive step forward in these areas from the days of BWP, as would be expected from two of the foremost experts in these fields. [...] I will certainly be consulting this book next time I encounter a passerine I can’t confidently identify. These pages comprise all the options, along with priceless hints and caveats and are – though apparently some photos have been miscaptioned – as comprehensive and authoritative as anyone could wish. [...]"
– John Marchant, BTO book reviews
Yes, there are a lot of ways to get the information published here - but it's all in one place. It may never be complete - but it will surely become a starting point for all those id questions. Not as detailed as maybe ringers require - but for the binocular birder there's not much to criticise.
The following of the Voous order, as used in BWP may surprise many.
Those I've shown it to all concur and are putting it on their wish list. Let's hope the non-passerine companion keeps to the 4-year gap promised. All in all a great achievement not just by the authors but the photographers as well.
The book has fantastic breadth and depth of coverage with the most helpful photographs of plumage variations. A treasure trove.
A welcome addition to any birder’s library. Superb photographs compliment an up to date text.
Superb guide to help identify the avifauna of the entire Western Palearctic Region.
Can't wait for the volumes on the non-passerines.
It has been a very long time coming but it has been worth it. Detailed, authoritative accounts from two of the biggest names in the field, with splendid photographs of the Western Palearctic birds, their varieties, ageing and sexing. A lot of detail but I found the information very accessible. In short, a treat. One small beef: it would have been even better if each volume had a contents page and index to both volumes. But I am sure this monumental work will be the go-to general survey of Western Palearctic Passerines for many years to come.
A new level of writing with an excellent photographic guide.
An excellent book, containing exceptionally good photographs and really well-written text, from two of the areas top birders.
My only real criticism relates to taxonomy. instead of using a recognised international taxonomy (i.e. IOC, HBW/BirdLife or Howard & Moore) the authors follow their own ideas.
Technical issues with regard to image reproduction due to equipment and processes used are apparent but unavoidable.
The texts are somewhat lightweight.
For any one species, the images cover a spectrum of sexes, ages and plumages which together offer the reader a greater chance of identifying the bird that is being researched.
Definitely value for money.
Well, after a long wait, they are finally here, recently there have been a number of photography guides, the WILDGuides Britain's Birds is perfect for the local birder who stays at home, but the Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds is a mindblower..
The standard and level of detail is outstanding, someone once complained that the Advanced Bird ID Handbook by Nils Van Duivendijk, was lacking photos, well now we have the perfect collection of photos and information,
A complete collection of photos and information, The Helm Bird Guide to Bird Identification is the essential field guide.
Well, these tomes are the Essential Library guides all birders should have them on their shelves, but be warned! You may need to have a strong shelf, they are on the heavy side.
Still plodding through them, not a set of books you read from cover to cover, but over the winter nights with a bottle of single malt, I can see these making winter a dream time.
Hadoram Shiriahi is a leading expert on many aspects of field identification. His pioneering work on raptor migration through the key watchpoints of the Middle East has been ongoing for more than twenty years. More recently his research interests have included passerine migration, and the identification and distribution of seabirds.
Lars Svensson is one of Europe's foremost ornithologists, author of the pivotal Identification Guide to European Passerines which is still the essential reference for bird ringers across the region. His other works have included senior authorship of the highly acclaimed Collins Bird Guide (HarperCollins) and numerous identification papers.