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The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Volume 1: Non-Passerines Hardcover – May 20 1999

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Hardcover, May 20 1999
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 648 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (May 20 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0127429611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0127429618
  • Product Dimensions: 27.5 x 20.8 x 5.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,516,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"In the heavyweight class and it will surely offer very interesting reading."--Alula

"This is a beautifully produced book, with an extremely thorough text, which every enthusiast of southeast Asian birds will want to own."--Nick Dymond, British Birds

"This is a scholarly work and a great advance on anything so far produced for this important area. The book is an invaluable reference and should be an essential addition to any serious ornithological library."--David Clugston, Scottish Bird News

"The text is superbly done, and the book will become the standard reference for years to come."--Choice

"Comprehensive and highly detailed volume bringing together the latest information gathered from recent research on birds in this area."--BBC Wildlife

"An essential addition to the libraries of all ornithologists with a keen interest in the region. . . . It justifiably reflects the colossal amount of work that has obviously gone into this high-class production."--Pete Davidson, Birding World

"The book represents a major contribution to the ornithological literature of Southeast Asia, and David Wells must be congratulated."--David Blakesley, Ibis

"A world-class handbook."--Winging It

About the Author

David Wells, in early 1961, moved to Malaya to work on munias for a PhD. While there, he also assisted with the general ringing then being run in connection with arborvirus studies (later, Dr. H.E. McClure's M.A.P.S. programme) and, in addition, helped found and edit (and some years later returned to) the Malayan Nature Society's Bird Report - for 25 years the main repository of records from Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Personal research interests there have included sustained, fixed-site ringing studies in Lowland rain forest; migration and the biology of wintering migrants, especially in forest; shorebird biology; and taxonomic and faunistic issues, in connection with which quests for specimen-data have taken him to the main museum collections of three continents. On an occasional basis, he has made many exploratory trips in the region, including to proposed conservation areas, and participated in internationally organised expeditions, to Mts. Benom and Lawit in the Peninsula, Mulu in Sarawak and Ulu Temburong in Brunei. Other, more applied areas of interest have included work on Barn Owls as controllers of paddyland rats (owl nest-boxes are now official pest-control policy in Malaysian rice agriculture), and a long-standing commitment to wildlife conservation and surrounding environmental issues - pursued through the Malayan Nature Society (one-time council member), the board of trustees of WWF Malaysia (with special interest in promoting state-based conservation strategies) and as co-founder and first chairman of Interwader, later Asian Wetland Bureau. Reports, chapters in edited volumes, and his various papers deal mostly with S.E. Asian ornithology, and in 1976, with Lord Medway and I.C.T. Nisbet, he co-wrote the fifth and final volume of The Birds of the Malay Peninsula, rounding-off and up-dating a pre World-War II handbook series begun by H.C. Robinson. The current book, volume 2 of which he is working on from his new base in England, is its natural successor.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, science-focused reference with very good plates Sept. 4 2008
By Jack Holloway - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Basics: 1999, hardcover, 648 pages, 69 color plates, 380 species, range maps

NOTE: This review is on only Volume 1 of this double-volume set. Amazon automatically and incorrectly ties this review to both volumes.

Covering the 380 non-passerine species on this peninsula shared by Thailand and Malaysia, this is a great reference for the region's birds. However, the format of this book will probably make it a great reference for only a smaller niche of people with a more scientific or academic focus on birds. This is not an identification guide. Generally speaking, it is a big, heavy library book used to research about a bird's natural history.

There are 69 color plates that illustrate most of the birds discussed in the book. And, these plates can be labeled as good - but not for strict identification purposes. With 8-22 illustrations per plate, these paintings display the species quite well. Finer detail is not incorporated to help separate similar species. However, with many of the birds illustrated with gender, seasonal, and age plumages, one could realistically use this book to identify most of the non-passerine birds encountered.

The meat of the book is its text. Nearly a full page is dedicated to each bird, along with a large range map. The same template of categories is used for each bird, which is not necessarily efficient, or even necessary. Many birds have several of these categories filled out as "No information." or "No data." It's important in science to note absent/negative information, but this did not really add to the book's knowledge value. The categories receiving the most attention of 1-2 paragraphs include global range, identification/description, status and population, ecology, and movements. The information provided is obviously well researched.

The range maps are different from most others used. Keeping in line with the text, they incorporate more detail, which is usually appreciated by me. However, these maps can appear too busy at times and one needs to pay closer attention to the outlines of the ranges, especially for birds with scattered pockets in their distribution. Only the outline of the range is given (i.e., it's not colored or shaded in), which can make it blend into the map itself along the coastline and amongst the many islands.

Who will use this book? The academic, field-research, data-focused ornithologist will certainly appreciate having this book on his shelf. For them, I recommend this book. The avid birder who visits this area only a couple of times in his life will probably not get nearly as much use out of it. This book is expensive. It reads with more of a science-dryness, it does not offer field identification quality and, there are several better, true field guides available for this region.

I've listed several related books below...
1) The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Passerines: Vol 2 by Wells et al.
2) A Field Guide to the Birds of West Malaysia and Singapore by Jeyarajasingam/Pearson
3) A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore by Davison/Fook
4) Birds: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore by Strange
5) Birds of Thailand by Robson
6) A Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Lekagul/Round
7) Photographic Guide to Birds of Thailand by Webster
8) A Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia by Robson
9) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia by Strange