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Best bird guides by region...Asia (1 Viewer)

colonelboris

Right way up again
I've seen lots of threads from people new to birding, or going on holiday somewhere unfamiliar, who ask what's the best field guide for such-and-such a place. I wondered if the denizens of the books department here would mind helping to create a list of the best field guides for different regions of the world.
Doesn't have to be country-by-country, although a few places are pretty well single-country areas, like Australia.
Here goes:

Asia
Birds of East Asia: China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Russia - Mark Brazil, 2009.
 

wintibird

André Weiss
Opus Editor
For the Indian Subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh): "Birds of the Indian Subcontinent" by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp

André
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
Birds of Borneo, which is better?

I notice there are two non-photographic FGs for Borneo (Myers and Philipps). Which one should be on the list here?
 

Papuan birder

- Lost in the Pacific -
I notice there are two non-photographic FGs for Borneo (Myers and Philipps). Which one should be on the list here?

That is a though one, as I have used both the Myers and Phillips (second edition) Guides in the field and found them both to be most excellent. Personally I much prefer the plates and distribution maps used in Myers, and I find the species accounts to be much more detailed. This guide also includes the Natuna Islands off NW Borneo.

On the other hand the introduction chapter in Phillips is much more detailed, and make for interesting reading. There is also a very useful index and at the end there is excellent coverage to the best and most important birding sites on Borneo. The taxonomy used in the Phillips Guide is more up-to-date as well (52 endemic species recognized including that yet undescribed flowerpecker vs. 50 in Myers).
 

DMW

Well-known member
If you are using it as a field guide, I think the Myers guide to Borneo is superior simply on account of its much better illustrations. I also like the layout and method for describing vocalisations.

As PapuanBirder notes, Philips is a more comprehensive book, but I question the benefit of including extraneous information such as site information in a field guide. Most birders will use up-to-date trip reports for this sort of information, making it redundant in a field guide.

I will also say that the proof-reader for the Myers guide should find an alternative career: I literally lost count of the number of errors, and I wasn't intentionally looking for them. Mostly they are trivial typos, but there are also more serious errors such as duplicated text used for two species, and even duplicated illustrations.
 

MJB

Well-known member
I will also say that the proof-reader for the Myers guide should find an alternative career: I literally lost count of the number of errors, and I wasn't intentionally looking for them. Mostly they are trivial typos, but there are also more serious errors such as duplicated text used for two species, and even duplicated illustrations.

I couldn't agree more with you about the Myers guide; it also lacked any reference as to which taxonomy it generally followed. Many publishers have dispensed with proof-readers nowadays to keep production costs down. Some don't even bother with copy-editors and just hand out the draft to the nearest person, who though willing, may not be able to spell or recognise badly-structured sentences.

Nowadays, even highly popular novels contain many errors that half-way decent proof-readers would have corrected.
MJB:-C
 

Edward

Umimmak
Not located in Asia, AFAIK.
But away from this "Birds of the Middle East" by Porter and Aspinall published by Helm will help you.

Where else is the Arabian Peninsula if not in Asia? But yes, Birds of the Middle East is a fine book.
 

BrightonBirder

Well-known member
Funny I thought I knew that the Arabian Peninsula is part of Asia, if by convention only. Presumably the Suez canal made the decision easier.
 

BrightonBirder

Well-known member
What about a guide for the country of Georgia. I assume the birds of Central Asia (when it is published) will be a good choice, but until then?
 

brd

Well-known member
Taiwan is kind of a tricky one for me. Everyone recommends Brazil's book, but I've found it is not great in the field, because since it is for all of Asia, it is rather large and it has many birds that don't occur in Taiwan, so you spend a lot time looking through birds or being confused by birds that aren't there.

On the other hand, the other English language guides here are not of very high quality. "Birds of Taiwan" (by the Chinese Wild Bird Federation) has some low-quality photographs (along with the other problems that photographed-bird guides have) and doesn't have range maps or Chinese, but has the 300 most common birds. "100 common birds of Taiwan" is decent, but only has one photograph per bird, not all high-quality, and, of course, only has 100 birds (and omits some common birds). It does, however, have Chinese.

As I have birded here more and more, I have come to want the Chinese names because of birding with locals, who, of course, usually do not know the English name. For this reason I have mainly started using the local Chinese language guide (台灣野鳥圖鑑). It is the most widely used guide on the island by far, and has 458 species. It is, unfortunately, rather outdated. It was all illustrated by a Japanese man in the 1970s, and much of the information was either wrong at the time or has since changed. It is also out of print, although certain places like the Wild Bird Society of Taipei do still sell copies, I believe, and has English names as well as an English name index. I believe it is the best guide for the field.

Unfortunately, since all three of the books published in Taiwan are approaching English as a second language, there is little agreement on English names, and there are many different names throughout.

I have heard that there is a new guide that is being worked on now, and should be available in the next year or two, and should have new illustrations and English. I've been trying to add my two cents to those familiar with project, and my hope is that it will include not only the correct English names, but also Pinyin, which would be very helpful.

As a last note, I realized recently that one great flaw of written Chinese, the lack of an alphabet, means that there are no accurate descriptions of bird sounds such as are found in the Sibley guides. Perhaps the new guide could introduce English sounds as well. But I doubt it.
 

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