FIELD GUIDE FOR EUROPE AND BEYOND

Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Frederic Jiguet and Aurelien Audevard. Princeton Press. 2017. paperback. 5 X 7.5 inches. $29.95.

This is a more thorough guide than the traditional birds of Europe because it moves further south and east than many other guides and thus is great if you are traveling beyond just western Europe. The text is precise and the range maps fine. However, this book depends on photos for bird illustrations and any photographer must admit that has its limits. No single photo or even two, can show everything you might want in a field guide. Illustrations are thus more…well…illustrative. Here are exact quibbles. The text on Coal Tit says “long white nape patch” yet the photo shows a totally black nape. Text on Azure Tit describes a sky-blue mantle while the photo shows a pale gray one. This may be a printing problem similar to what happened with Sibley’s American guide when it went into second edition and the first runs came out with muddy looking birds that were supposed to be bright, like a drab Scarlet Tanager male. Ooops. That print run was withdrawn and the edition re-printed.

It is instructive to see that the newest range map for Collared-Dove shows it has conquered all of Europe except northeastern Scandenavia. The book is polite about the invasive Ruddy Duck, saying only that it is being culled in Britain and France. There the Ruddy is an existential threat to its cousin, the endangered White-faced Duck. Americans need to broaden thei nomenclature as the lingo here in British. Loons are “divers.” Horned and Eared Grebes are “Slavonian” and “Black-necked.” The Common and Velvet Scoters have finally been taxonomically split from our White-winged and Black Scoters…whew. The Eurasian Teal is now split from our Green-winged. The book does not disclose that the Mandarin Duck has dense populations now in some London parks. It simply tells you there are breeding populations spread around western Europe for this Asian species.

If I’d been editor of this book I would have added a single line at the top of the page with the pratincole photos: “These are some of the coolest birds you’ll ever see, anywhere!”

The book covers 860 species and the index has both Latin and English names for each species. Each entry includes a description of the bird’s vocalizations.eurobirds-1eurobirds2eurobirds3

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