Birds of Wallacea

Subject: Birds of Wallacea
From: Niels Poul Dreyer <>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 20:26:35 +1000 (EST)
Finally a new book published by Dove Publications written by Coates & Bishop
is on the book market. It is great news for any birder interested to travel
to Wallacia and especially Halmahera. I went there in 1989 with Ben King. To
my great surprise Ben King is missing from special acknowledgements. I am
sure that it would not be possible to get all that information without
extensive consultation with Ben King. 
The Book is great and very nice, so beautiful that it would be a great pitty
to take it out in the rainforest. It is a heavy book and not very handy in
the field. I would have prefered the set-up and format of the Birds of New
Guinea in which 300 pages are used to illustrate and discuss 740 birds,
versus 530 pages to illustrate and discuss 700 birds from Wallacia. The
numbereing system is confusing and it takes time to go from page to page to
read the descriptions and follow the number of each bird. It would be better
to use numbers from 1-20 for each plate (if 20 birds are illustrated on one
plate) and have all the names on the opposite side. The text in the back
only deals habitats, status, range, voice. The desriptions are very short
and go along with the plates. It is a hybrid between the format of Slater
and the old Pizzy. Young birds are generally not discussed (In whistlers
that could be important)  

I went though my notes from my trip and found some interesting detail
missing from the book. I remember having seen a large yelow patch on the red
back of serveral Chattering Lories on Halmahera. According to the book, only
Chattering Lories on Obi & Bacan should have a such patch. 

In 1991 I went to Sumba with Peter Lansely and Dion Hobcroft. We saw a scops
owl type. The owl had a brown yellowish throat, breast gray white with
streaks not continous, no spotting on cap. In flight it appeared to be sandy
brown. 6 year later it is stll not discribed!!. It has been seen by Ben King
and others during the following years.

Finally we saw Sumba Botton Quail. The description in Coates et all is not
very detailed. What we wrote down for that birds was the folowing:

The bottonquail has a size as red chested botton quail and was a very dark
version, the laterel chest scaly black with fredges and white, breast more
bright foxy orange or rusty, lower belly white. Back very dark scaly with
buffy stripe on side. He had a white stripe through crown and eye brow., eye
white, bil masive pale bluish, Legs destinct yellow.  

However, it is a great book overall and will be a good companion on my
future trips to that region. If you are going to Sulawesi I would recommend
to take Berik Holms and Karen Philipps "The Birds of Sulawesi" along with
Coates et al. Leave Coates in the hotel room and take Holmes & Karen into
the field. It is much lighter to carry around in a day pack. On other
islands there is no way around, but to carry Coated et al. with you into the
forest. The book costs 72 dollars if purchased from Andrew Isles including
mail. ABA sales or Dove Publications would sell the book too.

I hope this will give you some inspiration to go to Wallacia. Time is
running out for some of the Parrots such as Seram Cockatoo.

Niels Dreyer

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