Birds of Thailand Paperback – Oct 27 2002
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Winner of the 2002 Best Bird Book - Asia, Worldtwitch
From the Inside Flap
"A guide of exceptional quality that should prove very handy in the field. One can't ask for more." (Hugh Dingle, University of California, Davis) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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If you're interested in the birds that inhabit a medium-sized country like Thailand, you don't have many choices in field guides and you may not have many friends. At least, friends who share your precise and tiny interest. For that reason, this review should be read as a referendum upon the PRINCETON FIELD GUIDES as much as on this individual volume.
A field guide's physical quality matters more than with other books since you're meant to carry the thing around. The PFG is quality construction through and through and just compact enough to make for convenient traveling.
The choice of a small font size in Garamond BookCondensed is a wise one, providing exceptional clarity and saving space for the beautiful and competent illustrations (drawn, not photographed).
Because the majority of birders are English speakers by first or second language, bird guides that cover species native to non-English speaking countries often read as though the people who live there (with the birds!) don't exist. This may be a pecadillo rather than a felony, since - after all - such a book is about *birds*, not people. Yet Robson's guide adds the nice touch of Thai indices and page headings, no doubt appreciated by the local colleagues who are necessary participants in a project of this high quality.
The Princeton Field Guides include volumes on mammals as well as birds, with a penchant for out-of-the-way locations. If your interest takes you there, any one of these Guides is a worthy investment you'll not regret.
With plates and text taken directly out of the author's larger work from two years earlier (Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia), this book offers a condensed version for all of Thailand's birds. This book is a portable field guide and does a good job at illustrating and describing the birds.
The 128 color plates offer quality artistry. Plumages for the different genders, ages, and seasons are displayed as well as both perched and in-flight when relevant. Many of the illustrations have been rearranged and shrunk slightly from the original book to better fit into the plates. Most of the plates contain 8-12 species each and display anywhere from 18-30 different illustrations. This volume creates a somewhat crowded plate with small figures, especially with the raptors, gulls, and terns.
The one-paragraph text for each bird is on the page adjacent to each plate. This information offers concise descriptions of the birds along with the variations between genders, ages, or subspecies. These descriptions detail the bird well but offer almost zero comparisons on how to differentiate it from a similar species. A few additional lines do a good job at describing the bird's song and calls. A few words are given to describe the habitat.
Each bird has a small range map of Thailand that uses four different colors to represent resident, breeding visitor, wintering, and migrant. The small size of the map (1x2 cm) makes the map useful but only in a general manner; however, the authors did make a valiant attempt to insert detail (scattered patches of color) to represent some of the birds' broken distributions.
One minor awkward quirk in this book is the method of matching the bird in the plate with the accompanying text on the adjacent page. Each bird is numbered on the plate, which corresponds to the text. However, these numbers are often buried within the text and are not always quickly seen. Sometimes it may not be immediately apparent that bird #3 is not the third bird in the text, but simply another plumage of bird #2; thus, making the third bird in the text now labeled as bird #4.
For just Thailand, this is definitely the best book available with its good plates and concise text. The larger book by the author contains the same illustrations plus many other for all the birds across SE Asia. One other book is recommended for Thailand, which is the 3rd revision (1991) of A Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Lekagul and Round. The plates are less crowded and the illustrations and maps are slightly larger; however, the artistry is just a notch below the Robson book and fewer plumages are shown. The descriptive text is also a little better in Robson's book. -- (written by Soleglad at Avian Review or Avian Books, October 2008)
I've listed several related books below...
1) A Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Lekagul (1991)
2) Photographic Guide to Birds of Thailand by Webster/Fook
3) Birds of Thailand by Eve/Guigue
4) A Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia by Robson
5) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia by Strange
6) A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by King
7) The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1-2 by Wells
8) A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore by Davison/Fook
9) Birds: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore by Strange
10) Birds of Myanmar by Lwin/Thwin
Each of the 128 plates have excellent artwork on them depicting several plumages where relevant and most of the plates aren't too crowded allowing for decent size depictions of the birds. Each image is numbered in reference to the text on the facing page which covers description of the male, female and juveniles where relevant and also some descriptions of winter plumages which comes in handy in a region where there is a large influx of migrants during the non-breeding periods. When necessary other subspecies are described and then there are notes about voice, habitat and behavior.
Between the plates and text you should be able to identify most of the species you will come across here while not tiring out your arms to look through it. The range maps are helpful but could be a smidge bigger next time but they are still sufficient to make out where you are in Thailand and are located with the relevant text which makes this a nice easy guide to follow.
Birds of Southeast Asia (Princeton Field Guides)
Overall, most of the problems can be attributed to attempts to save space, and with so many species to cover that's understandable. Authors should have just broken down and made a thicker book. Most birders are hardy; we can handle a few extra ounces.
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