Monday, November 28, 2011

Best Bird Book(s) of the Year(s)

I realized that in the nearly four years that I've been doing the Birdbooker Report, I've never done a "Best Bird Book of the Year" posting. So I decided to do one this year. I'll start by catching up and awarding a "Best Bird Book" for the previous years that I've been doing the Birdbooker Report:

2008: Tennyson, Alan and Paul Martinson. Extinct Birds of New Zealand. 2006. Te Papa Press. Hardbound: 180 pages. Price: $54.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Although technically it's from 2006, I didn't learn about it until 2008. Covers 58 species of "recently" extinct birds of New Zealand. The full page award winning artwork by Paul Martinson almost brings these extinct birds back to life!

Buteo Books Link

2009: Forshaw, Joseph M. Trogons: A Natural History of the Trogonidae. 2009. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 292 pages. Price: $150.00 U.S. [Amazon: $119.34].
SUMMARY: This large folio covers the 39 species of trogons and quetzals of the world's tropical regions. The book is divided into two sections: the introductory material and the species accounts. Each species account includes information on the following: the species name,a range map, distribution, description, subspecies, habitat and status, movements, habits, calls, feeding, breeding and eggs. The artwork by Albert Earl Gilbert highlights this book!
RECOMMENDATION: For those interested in tropical birds, that collect species monographs or fine bird art. Only 1400 copies of this book were printed of which several hundred were damaged during shipping and not sold. That will cause this book to become a collectors item!

Buteo Books Link

2010: Kennerley, Peter and David Pearson. Reed and Bush Warblers. 2010. Helm Identification Guides. Hardbound: 712 pages. Price: 65 GBP (about $105.00 U.S.).
SUMMARY: This detailed and comprehensive identification guide follows in the mo(u)ld of Sylvia Warblers and Pipits and Wagtails. It primarily covers the genera Acrocephalus, Locustella, Cettia and Bradypterus, together with a few smaller related genera. To the uninitiated, these are the archetypal ‘little brown jobs’ and as if they weren’t hard enough to identify anyway, many of them are hard to see as well! This authoritative handbook covers their identification in breathtaking detail, illustrated with line drawings, sonograms, wonderful colour plates and photographs. It is destined to become the ultimate reference for these challenging birds.
RECOMMENDATION: Brian Small's artwork highlight this book! A must have for all World birders!

Buteo Books Link
And finally 2011: Kirwan, Guy and Graeme Green. Cotingas and Manakins. 2011. Helm Identification Guides. Hardbound: 624 pages. Price: GBP 60.00.
SUMMARY: This book looks in detail at two families of South American birds, the cotingas and manakins, perhaps the most colourful of all neotropical bird groups, and widely regarded as the South American equivalent of New Guinea's Birds of Paradise. The book is a synthesis of the very latest research into the identification, taxonomy and behaviour of each of the 160 species, along with detailed colour maps, several hundred previously unpublished colour photographs, and Eustace Barnes's stunning 34 colour plates.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with an interest in Neotropical birds or collectors of family monographs! Princeton University Press will be co-publishing this title in February 2012 for $55.00 U.S.

Buteo Books Link


  1. I've been meaning to do a similar post, but never got around to it either :)

    Just curious, did you also consider HBW, or are these the best non-HBW books of the year?

    It's hard to argue against Trogons. I didn't know about the damaged ones, that makes me glad I got my copy when I did (thankfully pristine).

    Looking forward to Cotingas, it'll have to be considered for my 2012 list.

  2. Ha awesome. I have the Extinct Birds of New Zealand next to my computer open on the same page. Just did a short post on the pukeko and takahe on my blog, close relatives of the moho pictured. Working on a follow up about the three species and their evolutionary past.