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Handbook of the Birds of Europe,the Middle East and North Africa:

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Old Wednesday 28th May 2003, 21:33   #1
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Handbook of the Birds of Europe,the Middle East and North Africa:

Handbook of the Birds of Europe,the Middle East and North Africa: the Birds of the Western Palearctic vol I to IX by Cramp and Perrins, to give it its full title.

I came accross volumes VIII and IX in a bookshop locally and being in a rush didn't have time to look at them in much depth. They seemed to be very thorough but are they really worth the money (approx £40 each - reduced from £90).

Does anybody have the full set and does it have all the answers!?
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Old Thursday 29th May 2003, 08:41   #2
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I haven't looked through that set for almost 15 years now, but it impressed me then, and it was quite in demand among advanced/professionals as the individual volumes were being published, from 1986 to 1995. I have an idea that for us, the concise Birds of the Western Palearctic would be more than sufficient and more up to date (although, to be honest, I haven't checked when the BWP work was actually done). The complete set was available at the Los Angeles Audubon Society Bookstore a couple of years ago at US$1350. But you know, if you're a Real Birder-- if you got the space and the money, buy it!
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Old Thursday 29th May 2003, 09:54   #3
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Check out whether the CD ROM set is still available. It contained both the full volumes and the concise edition.

The first volume was published in 1977 and cost £25 in the UK. There was several criticisms made of the series, especially the time taken to get them all published. Some have suggested the editing could have been more efficient.

As CH has said, if space and money isn't a problem go ahead and buy them. If you have concerns though think of the other books you could buy with the same cash.

I personally would recommend the Handbook of Birds of the World series. Volume 8 is to be published this summer. Each volume is a masterpiece with excellent text, photography and plates. It doesn't have the same in depth species accounts of BWP but it will eventually cover every bird in the world.

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Old Friday 6th June 2003, 12:53   #4
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Hi Fatboy

£40 is a bargain if you can use the incredible amount of info in these volumes. Most people would be better off buying the two volume concise version which you can get for as little as £45 at present.

Two things stop me buying the HBW - lack of money and lack of any more book shelves big enough to house it. Is it going to be 16 volumes now ?

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Old Friday 6th June 2003, 13:32   #5
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I would agree with the comments that for "most people" the two volume Concise Birds of the Western Palearctic edited by Snow and Perrins is perfectly adequate. In fact I think it's a fantastic bargain for 45 quid.

The full nine volumes are naturally more detailed but how much detail does one need?

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Old Saturday 7th June 2003, 22:59   #6
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Edward asks "how much detail does one need?"

It depends on how much you see! And how much is critical for ID.

Last November I was in Vanuatu visiting friends and, naturally, taking every opportunity to look at the local birds. One of these was a grey plover. Nothing too unusual about that, you may say, except that none had been recorded in Vanuatu before. So I lay down to steady the binocs in the strong wind and write some details.

When I got back home, it was BWP (and the local equivalent, HANZAB: Handbook of Australian NZ and Antarctic Brids) that enabled me to age the bird, on the strength of some notes I had made on the pattern around the edges of feathers on the upper back. No field guide was any help on this point. The only exception was "Shorebirds" by Hayman, Marchant, & Prater, but then if you buy a book on every group of birds...

The grey plover was in its first year, having hatched in the northern hemisphere. Perhaps it was on its way to New Zealand, maybe it stayed the winter in Efate. I could not find any local birdwatchers to follow it up.
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