Birds of Pakistan Paperback
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
softcover; 93 color plates show all 670+ species with good artistic quality; key plumage differences are shown between genders, ages, and subspecies; very brief but pointed identification material is given for each bird; a range map with four colors is provided with each species
This book, like its four other sister-books (Northern India, Southern India, Bhutan, Nepal) is a reduced version of the author's previous and much larger work: A Guide to the Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. This lighter Pakistan version is a true field guide-sized book that focuses on just those birds found within Pakistan. The same illustrations and nearly all of the same text are used in this Pakistan book as in the sister books.
The color illustrations are shown in 93 different plates. These show good artistry for the 670+ birds found in the country. What is also nice to see is that most birds are shown with multiple plumages when significant differences exist between genders, age, or subspecies. Each of the plates contain 3-10 different species and illustrate anywhere from 8-30 illustrations. The non-passerines, especially the raptors, gulls, and shorebirds, are show with the most drawings. Plates for these groups of birds can be congested with 25-30 illustrations of perched and flying birds. This causes many of the birds to be a bit small on the page; however, they are still very useful for identification.
Like the book's counterparts, the text accompanying each bird is the weaker part of this book. To be clear, the text is not bad, but, it is often very scant. Each bird receives as little as 3 lines or up to 15 lines to describe it. This text may not always be sufficient to differentiate between many of the more similar birds (e.g., Bush or Leaf Warblers). For some of the birds, a line or two is offered about the habitat or distribution. The raptors receive the most coverage information (6-17 lines) while the passerines receive the least (e.g., as little as 3-4 lines per bird). There is only the sparsest of information given for vocalizations on some of the birds.
Unique to this book is the inclusion of range maps across Pakistan. None of the other four related books have maps. The maps provide very good detail of the bird's range, outlined with four colors representing summer, year-round, wintering, and migrant.
To help supplement the relatively thin text on identification, eight tables are included as appendices. These tables provide a list of identification features that compare the more difficult bird groups such as nightjars, warblers, rosefinches, and the Yellow Wagtail subspecies.
This guide will serve you very well in Pakistan and is probably the second-best option, aside from the superior, but more expensive, book Birds of South Asia by Rasmussen.
If you're looking at other titles by these authors (Inskipp and Grimmett) keep in mind this Pakistan guide comes from the combined (but still condensed) Birds of India, which includes range maps for the entire subcontinent. Basically, if you own Birds of India, you already own everything in this Pakistan book. And, these two books (India and Pakistan) all come from the aforementioned larger work that has everything along with extensive, in-depth text. -- (written by Jack at Avian Review with sample pages, June 2009)
The main body of the book begins on page 48 with the first of 93 plates. Each plate has good illustrations with a little crowding on a few plates and a few species represented with small illustrations but on a whole most are easy to see and detailed for identification. The text faces each plate with a good color range map. Four colors for summer breeder, year round, winter resident and passage migrant are shown. Most maps cover the whole country for those species spread across the range but if a species range is smaller, a regional map is used showing only the area of Pakistan where the species range is, a very good idea and one I wish more guides would do. The descriptions cover several plumages and subspecies where relevant and notes on habits, habitat, voice and range are all included though not separated by bold titles so it all flows together, a common theme with the authors.
The book concludes with a list of vagrant and extirpated species as well as tables for comparison of nightjars, phyllosocpus and acrocephalus warblers as well as wagtail subspecies and rosefinchs. This is a handy feature when trying to separate some of the more similar species you will encounter.
Overall I like this guide in that is has the more modern style with range maps, text and plates all together. It is small and portable so will be easy to carry in the field. For more thorough text you might want to reference Roberts, The Birds of Pakistan Volume I and II, though this is a stay at home pair and one I doubt you'd take with you even to leave back in the hotel.
The Birds of Pakistan: Volume 1: Regional Studies and Non-Passeriformes
The Birds of Pakistan: Volume 2: Passeriformes: Pittas to Buntings
Birds of Pakistan in the past unfortunately have been lumped with birds of India in so many older texts.
This new book however has changed that. It is the most authoritative modern text on Birds of Pakistan. Authors have done an amazing job.