Sappi Birds of South Africa is a new field guide that changes the face of birdwatching in South Africa. It can be bought as a book only, or a book plus Callfinder that allows playback of bird songs from the pages of the field guide.
The Callfinder is a battery operated device that is easy to use. It doesn’t depend on internet or network coverage and has no complicated menus or operating instructions. Using a new printing technology, an invisible grid is printed over every photo. The eye of the Callfinder reads this grid and recalls the bird’s call from its internal memory card, allowing bird calls to be heard from the pages of a field guide.
The Callfinder comes with:
- standard 3,5mm earphone/speaker jack
- mini USB port
- power button
- volume control and mode selector
- Callfinder sensor
- 2GB memory card
- battery charger
The field guide features
- interesting text that does not merely describe what can be seen in the photographs, but also offers a wealth of extraordinary facts.
- new updated distribution maps.
- informative icons: species can quickly be compared with the help of icons illustrating normal habitat, nest position, relative size and social behaviour.
- more than 800 quality full colour photographs by renowned photographers.
- efficient grouping: bird species are grouped together according to four behaviour groups: Waterbirds, Raptors, Veld Landscape and Bush Landscape birds. Grouping is then further broken down into the birds’ external shapes ensuring that similar looking birds are close to each other thus assisting in comparing different species.
- A bilingual index of all the birds listed by their common group names in English and Afrikaans, plus scientific name index.
Saartjie Kidson and Herman van Niekerk, the authors, in 2003 discovered a shortcoming in local bird guides and immediately started to work on a new series of innovative bird guides. Their knowledge, love of nature and involvement in bird watching and nature conservation ideally equipped them for such a comprehensive project. Two popular regional bird guides, Spotter’s guide to birds of the Bushveld and Spotter’s guide to birds of the Lowveld, were completed with accompanying, value-adding DVD’s and a bird call CD. Then the giant step was taken to produce a national bird guide based on the same concept. Advanced technology, however, now made it possible to replace the separate DVD’s with the Callfinder greatly enhancing the accessibility of bird calls. A first for South Africa.
The authors are convinced that bird watching in South Africa will henceforth change substantially and that an entire new generation of young, technologically minded people will become dedicated bird watchers.
Saartjie was, amongst others, also a founder member of the Naboomspruit Bird Club and Herman of Friends of Nylsvley. Herman also published various other books.
"[...] The layout is clear and pleasing, and by using the Callfinder while browsing it is very easy to quickly compare the sounds and simultaneously absorb a wealth of data for each species [...] At 175 × 245 mm, the book is rather too large to slip into the pocket and bears more resemblance to a condensed basic handbook than a field guide. I feel that it has greater use as a primer at home before a trip, rather than as a tool to be used in the field. Used in this context, I can see this novel concept as an ideal guide to introduce the beginner to the wealth of South African birds and, in particular, to learn their vocalisations, for teachers in schools, or as a demonstration kit for tour guides."
- Nik Borrow, Bulletin of the African Bird Club 22(1), March 2015