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Europe's Birds (cover)

Publisher: WILDGuides, Princeton

Publication Year: 2021

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 640

ISBN Number: 9780691177656

Price: £ 19.99

Europe’s Birds: An Identification Guide

This newly published guide covers an impressive range of over 900 species and it is laid out in a very user-friendly way. It’s a hefty tome- it’s not a field guide but neither is it intended to be.

I’m often a little cautious of photographic field guides as it’s so dependent on the chosen photos. In this case the authors have collated a staggering 4,700 photographs to show various ages and plumages of birds and often showing exactly the features they outline in the accompanying text. Birds are shown in their natural habitats and in their typical postures. Flight shots generally show upper and lower wings which is a huge help. In short the selection of representative photographs must have been a painstaking task and the authors rightly deserve credit for their work. Pages 14-19 provide a very user-friendly way for readers to narrow down the various bird families using single thumbnail images and I think for improving birders this will be a very helpful starting point for identification.

One downside - for me - is that the pages can be a little ‘busy’. There is a lot of information on each page and especially the species accounts. Photographs of the birds take precedence in terms of space for the map and the text is also quite small - have your reading glasses to hand! I don’t doubt that this was given a great deal of consideration. There is little detail on the bird's voice and I have to say this is welcome as it’s something I’ve only rarely found useful in field guides.

There is a useful reference guide inside the front cover followed by a comprehensive introduction to the area covered, a very useful section on how to use the guide, plus a few other topics like moult and ‘parts of a bird’. I would urge all birders to have a good read of this - there are some excellent explanations of some of the fundamentals of birds’ lives, as well as how we view them.  At the beginning of some family groups there are useful two-page spreads of e.g. ducks in flight (showing adult male and female birds) and raptors of various ages.

Overall this is an excellent identification guide and will be a welcome addition to any birders bookcase!

Book reviewed by Steve Willis

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