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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.
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.
"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a tribute to the knowledge and skill of the authors and artists, but by the time it was published large parts were superseded, such that it was no longer the essential reference that it would have been, had it been ready a few years earlier.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
"This is a huge work, both in its 5.5kg and – more importantly – in the detailed material included within. Perhaps the thing that strikes one first – and goes on striking – is the number and quality of the photographs – over 5000 of them. Digital photography came of age some years ago, but with this publication it has moved up a level. [...] This is a major work and ‘HWPB’ has already, rightly, become part of the language. It brings together a large number of changes in taxonomy that have been proposed in the last two decades or so."
– Christopher Perrins, Ibis 162(1), January 2020