Basics: 1995, 1st edition; hardcover; 304 pages, 142 plates containing 1,000+ color photos; additional 262 color paintings show identification points; 700+ species; range map for each bird; US$50-200
Two Cautionary Notes
1. There are two books with the same title by the same author and by the same publisher. The similarities end there. This confusion has caused some online booksellers to list the tiny 144-page book (normally US$15) at the US$100+ price of this larger book. So, be careful of what you are purchasing. This review covers the large 11 x 9-inch hardcover book (ISBN 1868257851) and not the small, totally dissimilar paperback.
2. Amazon automatically but incorrectly applies this review to the incorrect, but same-named book that is only 144 pages, which is the book mentioned above in caution note #1.
This is a very attractive book with its high quality photographs. Nearly all photos are up close, sharp, and printed in good color. These photos are the highlight of the book. Of the 900+ species found in southern Africa, over 700 are illustrated here. Each plate contains 5-9 photos. Only a small percentage of the birds are represented by more than one photo. Those that have two photos are typically species with notable sexual dimorphism.
On most of the text pages, there are 1-2 small color paintings in the margin. These are used to point out detail relevant to age, sex, season, or similar species. The illustrations are good quality.
The one-paragraph text on the adjacent page offers the typical physical description of the bird along with a very brief outline of its habitat and vocalizations. The 3 x 3cm range maps found next to the text are adequate for showing where the bird may be found. Only one color is used in the range map; thus, no seasonal information can be inferred.
My only negative comment is the minor difficulty in matching the photo on the right page to the species name and map on the left page. To match them, you must look at the little numbered box diagram that corresponds with the photo layout. The number in each little box is then used to compare against a numbered list of names. This method is not unique and can be found in several other photo format books; however, it is still cumbersome.
I've listed several related books below...
1) Complete Book of Southern African Birds by Ginn/McIlleron/Milstein
2) Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa by Arlott
3) Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair
4) Roberts Bird Guide: A Comprehensive Field Guide Southern Africa by Chittenden
5) Newman's Birds of Southern Africa by Newman
6) Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair/Hockey/Tarboton