The Birds of Africa series, volumes I–VII, covered the avifauna of continental Africa. This volume fulfils the aspiration, expressed in that series, of a single volume that treats the birds of Madagascar, Seychelles, the Comoros, the Mascarenes and their associated smaller outlying islands – the Malagasy region. It follows The Birds of Africa series in treating each of the 352 regularly occurring species known from the region in detail, through the assembly of a wealth of information, much of it very recent. Distribution, description, identification, general behaviour, feeding and breeding habits are comprehensively covered, by a roster of the key experts on the birds of the region. All 135 vagrant species are also treated, more briefly, and for the first time the distribution of species across the region is presented in a series of detailed and informative maps. Each species is also extensively illustrated, showing variation in plumage across ages, sexes and geographic regions. One plate illustrates species that have recently become extinct in the
region, and a separate plate section covers vagrants.
The region’s avifauna is characterised by a very high level of endemism, both at the species level and higher – at genus and family levels. Many species, such as the enigmatic Cuckoo-roller, are of abiding interest for comparative or taxonomic studies, and the relationships of the birds of the region to those of Africa and Asia are only now becoming clear. A detailed analysis of the biogeography and evolutionary history of the region is a fascinating and new contribution to this debate, and a thorough overview of the geography, climate and vegetation is also presented within the introductory chapters. This is a major work of reference on the birds of the region and will remain the standard text for many years to come.
"This eighth volume of the Birds of Africa contains an authoritative and comprehensive account of the incredible avifauna of the Malagasy region [...] The colour plates are generally excellent. This book is highly recommended and will make you want to visit. It would be even better if we still had Elephant Birds to go to look for."
- Andy Musgrove, BTO book reviews
"This eagerly awaited book completes The Birds of Africa series in the way that the late Stuart Keith and his colleagues had hoped, while they worked on the earlier, mainland African, volumes. [...] Despite [...] small reservations, we firmly recommend this landmark work, which will be an essential reference for all future research in the region. The two editors are to be congratulated on completing a momentous project."
- R.J. Dowsett & F. Dowsett-Lemaire, Ibis (2014), 156, 478–489
"This is a monumental postscript to The Birds of Africa that dwarfs every previous volume in that series [...] Volume VIII of The Birds of Africa is a worthy epilogue to that series but stands alone as the definitive handbook to the Malagasy region."
- Adrian Pitches, britishbirds.co.uk, 05-03-2014
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Roger Safford has been a frequent visitor to the Malagasy region since 1988, and from 1989 to 1993 he completed a PhD on the conservation of the endemic passerines of Mauritius, visiting all of the high islands in the region and developing an intimate knowledge of the region’s birds. His subsequent work has always retained a link to the Malagasy region, with numerous visits and publications resulting, and since 2001 he has been responsible for supporting the work of the BirdLife International partnership in Madagascar.
Frank Hawkins first visited Madagascar in 1987 and subsequently lived there from 1990 to 2007. After completing a PhD on the birds of the dry forests, he worked as Technical Advisor to BirdLife International and as Technical Director of Conservation International’s Madagascar Programme, conducting field work all over the island. He is co-author of Birds of Madagascar: a Photographic Guide and the companion CD entitled Bird Sounds of Madagascar, as well as the author of numerous papers on Madagascar’s
birds and other wildlife. He has also visited most of the other high islands in the region.