This is a new edition of the major reference work and most respected scientific checklist of birds. Due to its increased size, the fourth edition has been split over two volumes, with Volume 1 listing the non-passerines and Volume 2 (which is in preparation and scheduled for November 2013) listing the passerines.
The fourth edition of The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World has been updated to reflect the considerable change in our understanding of the evolution of birds derived from the study of their DNA over the past decade; thus the Cracraft sequence, adopted in 2003, is completely revised here. The new edition also reflects revisions to species limits and includes newly discovered species and subspecies. For each genus, type designation details are now given, and superspecies groups are frequently mentioned in the footnotes. Evaluation, as before, is based on the Biological Species Concept, carefully and conservatively applied. Range statements have been totally revised, particularly for the Americas. Overall the number of footnotes and references cited nearly doubles.
To cut down on the number of printed pages, a CD-ROM is included. This complements a species level index in each volume by providing the full index down to subspecies level. It also includes several appendices. Amongst these are:
- appropriate phylogenetic trees in support of the ranked list of the division in which birds are grouped above the family level which is in Joel Cracraft's chapter,
- an appendix on corrections to the spelling of Latin names for some 500 species or subspecies, how such decisions were reached, and the reasoning behind them,
- an appendix on date changes, which effectively is an update to table 66 in Priority! The Dating of Scientific Names in Ornithology
- 10 full-colour maps of geographical areas where even major world atlases are not much help with finding names of places birders want to reach whether in New Guinea or East Africa or the Southern Ocean.
Lastly, The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, Volume 1 includes a tear-off sheet that can be sent to the editors to request a licence to obtain free downloads of planned regular updates. We understand it is quite likely that such updates may be just part of a new scientific journal and that the free downloads will for some time include all of each issue and not just a PDF of the update itself. This journal will, for the first few years at least, be free to those who bought the fourth edition of The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, whereas others can purchase a subscription.
"[...] Minor shortcomings aside, this is a monumental piece of work and vital reference, and the editors and their team of assistants are once again to be congratulated on such useful labour, apparently without any external financial support."
– Anthony Cheke, Ibis 157, 2015
"[...] The new edition of H&M is an important contribution to the unfortunately necessary process of cleaning up and maintaining the names of birds, essential to all ornithology. It incorporates much new information on taxonomy and nomenclature and should be a basic reference for the compilers of other lists and bird books. The editors and their colleagues are to be congratulated for their industry."
– Alan Knox, Ibis 156, 2014
"[...] The majority of the updates, corrections and additions to this version of the Checklist are overtly there for the academic and professional community – the casual world-lister is likely to derive less benefit. Indeed, any pretence that this is a ‘checklist’ has more or less been abandoned, and the tick boxes included in the 3rd edition have disappeared in the 4th edition. The font is a bit bigger, and there remains a limited amount of space for annotations and notes, but make no mistake: the Howard and Moore Checklist is being developed with posterity in mind, as a permanent, citable, authoritative, accurate reference point for the professional, or at least very serious, ornithologist. Other World Checklists may find ways to be more aesthetically pleasing or birder-friendly, but Howard and Moore is the authority whose decisions on things like nomenclature and authorship they will copy. Now split into two volumes, with Vol. 2 promising to cost another £80.00, Howard and Moore is becoming the expensive option, but if you are serious about the accuracy and technicalities of your world list, this remains the one to go for."
– Martin Collinson, British Birds, 15-03-2014
Review of the 3rd edition:
"Dickinson had three goals: to be comprehensive, to be conservative, and to have a high standard of nomenclatural accuracy. He scores high on all three counts. [...] The book is a treasure trove of taxonomic information. The 9721 species are footnoted by 2739 references. [...] While this book is as good as it gets when it comes to accuracy and accountability, the bottom line is that taxonomists often disagree and the decisions of the editor will determine the final status of many species. Dickinson, in my opinion has done an admirable job, finding a balance between excessive splitting and overzealous lumping. [...] I predict that the future of world lists lies with Howard & Moore. Its high standards of accountability, exhaustive documentation, use of regional experts, and easy-to-use format are winners.”
– Peter Kaerstner, Birding, October 2004, 534-537