Excellent review. Any chance of a thumbnail depicting the front covers, or a link to the books??
This was a long time ago now (well years not decades I guess), the Mitchell Beazely guide was always put down but seemed ok/good to me. The other best one for beginners/basic use was one one published by Kingfisher or someone, I really can't recall. Anyway, it included the little arrows/lines on the ilustrations pointing out key id features to note on a bird, which I've thought an excellent aid.