"The Encyclopedia of Birds"

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Subject: "The Encyclopedia of Birds"
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2009 16:59:52 +1000
Greetings Birding-aus

On Dec. 3, I posted a message as follows:

Quoting from a book catalogue I have just received:

    "The Encyclopedia of Birds", Christopher Perrins, Editor.  Oxford. (2009
revised edition).  Quarto, paperback, 656pp. colour photographs, maps and
other illustrations $60.

    "The definitive single volume guide to the birds of the world.  It
covers the behaviour, diet distribution, and evolution of every known living
bird in the world and is illustrated throughout with stunning colour
photographs and original artwork."

Sounds good.  Any b-auser know it and care to comment?

After considering advice from a number of kind people, I decided to buy.
Have now had enough time to dip into it, and have concluded that it will be
useful for my purposes - where I seek only general info on non-Australian
birds, and can turn to my reasonably extensive library relating to
Australian birds.

Laurie Knight pointed out to me that a book on the Birds of Peru was the
same size, and queried the claim that it covered every known bird, and of
course it doesn't.  It deals with groups of birds, which will be useful for
me, but is likely to be frustrating for anyone seeking information on a
particular species.

For example "Australasian Treecreepers" takes up but a single page.  It
gives an interesting general account of the family Climacteridae, and simply
lists the species, thus:

    "7 species in 2 genera: Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris piccumus),
Red-browed Treecreeper (C. erythrops), Rufous Treecreeper (C. rufa),
White-browed Treecreeper (C. affinus), Black-tailed Treecreeper (C.
melanura), Papuan Treecreeper (Cormobates placens), White-throated
Treecreeper (C. leucophaeus)."

I should add that I have no special interest in that family, and haven't
attempted to check that list against Schodde & Mason. It just happens to be
opposite the start of the 3 pages on Lyrebirds, which as Margaret Cameron
indicated in an email to me was written by Alan Lill and thus is fine within
the limits of three pages.  In fact, pretty good to get three pages for just
two species in this book.  But I reckon Lill must be rather frustrated to
find that the Albert's Lyrebird photo carries a caption which includes the
advice that the species is "restricted to Lamington National Park"; and this
despite Lill's have given the correct distribution.

Initially, I was very disappointed to find no mention at all in the index,
of the flightless the Lord Howe Island Woodhen, a bird of which I am very
fond - especially after the incident where I was doing some weeding, sat
down for a rest, and the local Woodhen who had being enjoying the
invertebrates revealed, climbed up on my extended legs, and looked
appealingly into my face to suggest I should get on with the work.

However on delving into the book I find it says there are about 133 species
of rails, and several species are flightless - all on islands and there is
short general discussion of this flightless phenomenon.

Finally I can't resist mentioning one minus.  It's a pet hate of mine: to
have entries in the index where a name is given and followed by "see
(another name)".  For example:  "shrike-thrush see Colluricincla harmonica".
Surely it would be a simple matter to add the page number?




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