"Birds of Africa" is a seven-volume reference work covering all species of birds found in Africa, both North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. This is the fifth volume, edited by Emil K. Urban, Hilary Fry and Stuart Keith with illustrations by Martin Woodcock and Ian Willis. And let's not forget Claude Chappuis, who is responsible for the acoustic references.
This volume covers thrushes, Old World warblers, Old World flycatchers, monarch flycatchers, wattle-eyes and puffback flycatchers. The book is a typical reference work, probably unsuitable for occasional bird-watchers or the general reader, but a "must have" for every research library and more advanced ornithologist. At least if his way of advancement goes through Africa!
The species presentations include sections on range and status, description, field characters, voice, general habitat, food and breeding habits. The color plates are good but somewhat confusedly edited. The maps in the introductory section show the best (?) haunts in darkest Africa, including the Bamingui-Bangoran National Park, the Mbaéré-Bodingué-Nyota Forest and the Warsangeli Escarpment. I must remember those, although something tells me they can't be reached by metro...
The book also contains its fair share of surprises. Thus, it turns out that the European Blackbird can be found in Morocco! It's supposed to be a special subspecies, "Turdus merula mauritanicus", but I honestly can't tell the difference with the blackbirds hopping around in my very European backyard. The Fieldfare, Redwing and Ring Ouzel also make guest appearances in this work, since they can all be found in Northern Africa during their annual migrations.
Personally, I prefer HBW to any other reference work on birds, but then, I mostly look at the pictures! As already indicated, I'm sure the fifth volume of "Birds of Africa" also fills a niche. In the end, I give it four stars.