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Field Guides & Natural History  Ornithology  Non-Passerines  Seabirds, Shorebirds & Wildfowl

Seabirds The New Identification Guide

Field / Identification Guide
By: Peter Harrison(Author), Martin Perrow(Author), Hans Larsson(Author)
600 pages, 239 plates with 3800+ colour illustrations; colour distribution maps
Publisher: Lynx Edicions
Lavishly illustrated, the first comprehensive guide since Harrison's 1983 opus.
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Average customer review
  • Seabirds ISBN: 9788416728411 Hardback Jun 2021 In stock
    £68.99 £74.99
Price: £68.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles
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About this book

Please note that the published has made available some errata.

This is the first comprehensive guide to the world’s 434 species of seabirds, to be published since the 1983 publication of Harrison’s Seabirds: An Identification Guide. It covers all known seabirds, beginning with seaducks and grebes and ending with cormorants and pelicans. Lavishly illustrated and detailed throughout the 600 pages, this guide gives full treatment to all known seabird species including recently rediscovered and rarely seen species.

- The essential new field guide to the seabirds of the world.
- 239 superb, full-colour plates with extensive captions and detailed facing-plate identification texts and maps, to enable identification at a glance.
- More than 3,800 full-colour figures with illustrations of distinct subspecies, sexes, ages and morphs, are further supported by in-text identification keys and figures.
- Comprehensive and definitive, the text covers status and conservation, geographic range, movements and migration, breeding biology and feeding habits, plus identification and latest taxonomic treatments.
- The only seabird guide to cover all known seabird groups and species. Seabirders worldwide will find this to be an authoritative, one-of-a-kind publication for use around the globe.


Preface   7
Acknowledgements   9
Introduction   11
      What is a seabird?   11
      The basics of seabird ID   16
How to use this book   18
      Group introduction & identification   18
      Species accounts   18
      Distribution maps   19
      Abbreviations explained   20
      Ageing terminology   20
      Glossary of terms   21
      Seabird topography   23
      Where in the world?   24
      Species inventory   28
Systematic accounts   31
      Seaducks   32
      Grebes   58
      Sheathbills   78
      Phalaropes   78
      Skimmers   79
      Gulls   84
      Terns & Noddies   192
      Skuas & Jaegers   238
      Auks   252
      Tropicbirds   278
      Loons (Divers)   284
      Penguins   292
      Albatrosses   312
      Southern & Northern Storm-petrels   344
      Petrels, Shearwaters & Diving-petrels   376
            Fulmarine Petrels   377
            Blue Petrel & Prions   386
            Gadfly Petrels   396
            Procellaria Petrels   436
            Shearwaters   442
            Bulweria-type Petrels   480
            Diving-petrels   488
      Frigatebirds   494
      Gannets & Boobies   504
      Cormorants & Shags   518
      Pelicans   562
References   573
Index   595

Customer Reviews (1)

  • An essential reference for seabirds
    By Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne 27 Dec 2022 Written for Hardback
    Nearly forty years on from the original publication, the new seabird identification guide is a vastly improved offering bringing together many of the advances in field identification. However impressive the book is, the authors also point out that this book is only another new beginning. It is not the last word on seabirds as even details as basic as species delimitations are still to be resolved using a combination of traditional morphometrics as well as new technologies such as molecular phylogenetics and acoustic analysis. I am glad that this book follows a series of important seabird books by Klaus Malling Olsen and Steve Howell et al. (including the fairly recent Oceanic Birds of the World: A Photo Guide published Princeton University Press in 2019). It makes it easier that taxonomic decisions, suggestions and discussions in previous books are already factored into this book. But seabird taxonomy remains in flux.

    The book is structured with maps on the inside and outside back covers showing all of the world’s oceans and a numbered list of 117 islands, essential for following the text on distribution in the book. Maps are found again in the section ‘Where in the world?’ (pages 24-27) where the islands are labelled with names (as opposed to numbers) in four maps covering the Atlantic, Indian, Western and Eastern Pacific regions. The introduction contains a brief but useful introduction to the groups covered (pages 11-15). These are in taxonomic order with families in capital letters. There are a few exceptions to the family in capitals rule, such as the skimmers, gulls and terns being treated with capital letters although in the same family Laridae. But they are sufficiently distinctive to merit a high-level division for field guide purposes although not necessarily conforming to strict taxonomic divisions. Further divisions within a family (e.g. Gadfly Petrels, Procellaria Petrels) are in lowercase. The plates are cross-referenced and this section serves also as a quick guide to the systematic accounts and plates. 17 Families are covered in this book from seaducks, grebes and sheathbills to gannets, cormorants and pelicans. The introduction lists the number of species and genera in that group. A section on ‘The basics of seabird ID’ covers topics such as jizz and moult. Two pages of glossary are followed by a page on detailed seabird topography. Finally, there are three pages of ‘Species inventory’ which serves as a detailed index to the plates and pages. The bulk of the book is taken by the species accounts in the ‘systematic accounts’ (pages 31 - 571). The end sections have a fairly extensive ‘References’ spanning 21 pages (pages 573-594) followed by an index referencing common and Latin names (pages 595-600).

    The systematic accounts are preceded by more detailed text on the ‘group’ being covered with a good summary of the present thinking based on molecular phylogenetic analyses. At times a phylogenetic tree may be shown. There is an overview of the typical field characters and behaviour and what to look out for in separating out the species. The ‘group’ could be an entire family or a cluster of related genera. For example, the ‘shearwaters’ receive four pages of introduction (pages 442 – 445) when they follow on from the Procellaria petrels. A lot of trouble has been taken to set the scene for the various groups and underlines why this book will be such an important work of reference. The systematic accounts (the whole double-page composite being referred to as plates) follow the modern field guide format with text and distribution maps on the left facing the artwork on the right. The plates are heavily annotated with key identification notes in the format that has become well-established for advanced identification guides.

    The heavily annotated illustrations which allows the ‘plates to be read’ are one of the obvious departures from the ‘old Harrison’. But another key difference is the vast number of illustrations to illustrate the different plumages across the ageing cycle. Subspecies which generally have only subtle differences are covered in the text and not illustrated (with a few exceptions). On average two species are covered in a double-page spread. Gulls which take three to four years to reach maturity receive a full page. Some species such as the Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus receives two double pages which is helpful as it is an important baseline species for benchmarking identification characters. To reiterate there is plenty in this book even for urban birders who are studying gull flocks in cities to pick out rarities. The plates are illustrated by Peter Harrison other than those painted by Hans Larsson for all of the seaducks, skimmers, gulls, terns and skuas. The two artists are sufficiently different that most people will recognise the hand of the two artists on the plates. Although a taxonomic order is broadly followed, at the level of species, similar species are illustrated close to each other to serve field ID rather than to follow a strict phylogenetic arrangement. Another difference between the ‘old Harrison’ and ‘new Harrison’ is the number of species covered. Harrison in his preface comments that the number of tubenoses has increased from 107 to over 170, mainly due to subspecies being elevated to full species status.

    Each plate (a double-page spread) has at the top a taxonomic discussion to set the scene and flags any new splits which may or may not have been covered in the book. A good example being Plate 88 on the Caspian Hydroprogne caspia and Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus which draw attention to the split of West African Crested Tern Thalasseus albididorsalis. These setting-the-scene notes are especially helpful with many of the petrel complexes where the taxonomy remains in flux. The species accounts follow a standard formula with common names in English, German and Spanish followed by text on distribution. The worldwide distribution of a species is also marked on a colour-coded map. The rest of the text is on identification in both the ‘Identification’ section and the ‘Confusion species’ section’. Vocalisations are included in the ‘Identification’ section. The plates are richly illustrated and an extreme example is Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus which is one of the species which receives a double-page spread. It is illustrated with 26 birds drawn on a page. The ‘new Harrsion’ does not render any of the stand-alone gull books which have come out in the last few years redundant. They each have their strengths. But if you could only have one specialist seabird book or wanted one book as the first reference you turn to, this might be the book.
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Peter Harrison, MBE, artist, author, screenwriter and ardent conservationist. His first book, Seabirds: An Identification Guide, was hailed as a classic and awarded Best Bird book of 1983 by the prestigious journal British Birds. Seabirds of the WorldA Photographic Guide followed in 1987. Peter devotes much of his time to conservation efforts. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the world of natural history, Peter was invited to Buckingham Palace in 1995 and awarded the title Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. In March 2017 he was the proud recipient of the New York Linnaean Society’s Eisenmann Award for Excellence in Ornithology. A Fellow of the Explorers’ Club, Peter continues to travel the globe, lecturing and guiding, as a founder and partner of Seattle-based Apex Expeditions.

Martin Perrow has been a professional ecologist for 30 years as head of one of the foremost ecological consultancies in the UK. Martin has authored more than 130 scientific papers, articles and book chapters, and has published reports and presented at a host of international conferences and workshops. He is probably best known, however, as editor of several seminal books including the two-volume Handbook of Ecological Restoration and the four-volume Wildlife and Wind Farms: Conflicts and Solutions. An avid birder with an innate love of water, Martin has travelled the oceans in both hemispheres, often as tour guide with several leading wildlife travel companies. In 2015 he received the Carl Zeiss Award from the British Birds Rarities Committee.

Hans Larsson was born in the Gambia but lives in Sweden and is one of the country’s leading bird artists. He was voted Bird Artist of the Year (1994) by Vår Fågelvärld, the leading Swedish ornithological journal. Subsequently, the Swedish Ornithological Union honoured him as their Birder of the Year (1996). Hans has previously illustrated the acclaimed Terns of Europe and North America (1995) and Skuas and Jaegers (1997), both by Klaus Malling Olsen. More recently (2004) he completed the 96 plates for Klaus Malling Olsen’s seminal work, Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America.

Field / Identification Guide
By: Peter Harrison(Author), Martin Perrow(Author), Hans Larsson(Author)
600 pages, 239 plates with 3800+ colour illustrations; colour distribution maps
Publisher: Lynx Edicions
Lavishly illustrated, the first comprehensive guide since Harrison's 1983 opus.
Media reviews

"Much anticipated [...] this new seabird identification guide had a great mountain to climb. Not only would it be expected to have the same impact as his original work, but much of the original identification insights of the 1983 version were now well understood and second nature to moderately experienced seabirders. [...] So was this a setup for failure, an impossible summit to scale? The author clearly believed not and in my view has, together with his co-authors Martin Perrow and Hans Larsson, produced an exceptional work – a collaboration that adds significantly to what has gone before [...] So does this 2021 renewal of Peter Harrison's seabird identification guide match expectations? Yes, I think undoubtedly so. This is an excellent publication, a fitting replacement for the original work and one that should definitely grace the bookshelves and travel bags of anyone with a passion for seabirds."
– John Graham, Bulletin of the African Bird Club 29(1), March 2022

"[...] It is common for reviews to sing the praises of their subject matter, but I would happily label this one of the most exciting and informative bird books that I have picked up in some time. No doubt it will be revered as a modern classic within birding circles worldwide."
– Josh Jones,

"[...] Despite first impressions that some illustrations are not so pleasing, Seabirds: The New Identification Guide is another excellent bird guide from Lynx. It is the sort of book that would be indispensable to have on any major pelagic trip, and a useful reference guide at home. I doubt it will always be the first book that seabird aficionados will turn to. But for the many birders that prefer paintings to photos this guide is especially recommended since there is presently nothing to compare it with that illustrates so many forms of so many species with paintings. [...]"
– Frank Lambert (03-10-2021), read the full review at The Birder's Library

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