BASICS: softcover, 2010, 352pp; field guide shows 2,000+ illustrations of all 758 species known from Ghana; very good artwork shows multiple plumages for the distinctive gender or age variations; paragraph of 5-10 lines across from each illustrated bird provides good concise notes on identification with mention of male, female, juvenile, and subspecies; brief notes given for habitat and voice; multi-colored range map shown for each bird
This is only the second complete book in a field guide format that covers any portion of western Africa, making this book most welcome. It illustrates all species known from Ghana and does so with excellent artistry.
The various plumages of male/female, breeding/non-breeding, and some immatures are shown for all species that show such differences. For those groups that don't have dramatic plumage variation (e.g., some warblers, flycatchers, bulbuls) only a single illustration is provided for the bird. As with most of the other passerines, these birds are shown in a standard profile pose. As another tiny critique, only a minority of the passerine species are shown in flight.
As one might expect, these illustrations come directly from the author's prior tome "A Guide to the Birds of Western Africa". It was nice to see some illustrations have been updated for this Ghana book. Some birds have been retouched or color-corrected such as the Ashy and the Cassin's Flycatcher (now lighter grays with more contrast) while others such as the Slender-billed and the Yellow-billed Greenbul as well as the Brown Babbler have been redrawn.
Across from each plate is a paragraph of identification material on each bird. About half the material of 2-8 lines focuses on identification notes. The key ID features for many of the species are emphasized by being printed in a bold font to draw the reader's attention to their importance. These descriptions cover the male and female plumages. Another nice touch is referring to the subspecies for many of the birds.
Additional material covers the bird's typical habitat, brief notes for some birds on behavior, and, nice descriptions of the vocalizations.
For each bird, a range map of Ghana with the adjacent countries is shown with multiple colors. The five status types represented by the maps are resident, partially migratory resident, non-breeding visitor, sparse non-breeding visitor, and breeding visitor. A couple of symbols also denote an isolated record or uncertain range extension. The map of this small country shows the major rivers to allow more accurate range descriptions. I also like seeing the range of the bird shown extending beyond the borders of Ghana.
If you're planning on birding in western Africa, you'll definitely want and need this book. The complete coverage of species with excellent plates will make your birding trip more successful. The only other western field guide of note is "Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia and Senegal" by Barlow and Wacher. - (written by Jack at Avian Review, January 2011)
I've listed several related books below...
1) A Guide to the Birds of Western Africa by Borrow/Demey
2) Birds of Africa South of the Sahara by Sinclair/Ryan
3) A Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia and Senegal by Barlow/Wacher
4) Birds of Liberia by Gatter
5) Birds of Western and Central Africa by van Perlo
6) Field Guide to the Birds of West Africa by Serle et al.
7) Guide des Oiseaux de la Reserve de la Lope by Christy/Clarke
8) A Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of The Gambia and West Africa by Silva et al.