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Book recommendation needed: best additional book to Collins bird guide for more in-depth information (1 Viewer)

David_

Well-known member
Germany
Hi everyone,

as the title suggests I'm looking for a book (or books) with more in-depth about European birds. Right now I own only the latest German version of the Collins bird guide (and also the iOS app on my phone). While it is a great field guide I often wish for more detailed information about birds I found in the field or as preparation when I'm about to go birding for certain targets I'm not yet familiar with.
So what are the best books out there if you don't own anything besides a field guide yet?
  • Shirihai / Svensson: Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds
  • Snow / Perkins: The Birds of the Western Palearctic

The Shirihai/Svensson book covers only passerines so I would later add other books to cover non-passerines. But since it was released in 2018 it is probably more up to date?
The Snow/Perkins book was also released as an iOS app which from a price point seems quite appealing (even though in general I would prefer a book over an app) but distribution and population is outdated. So which would offer more value? Are there must have books I'm missing?

I know there is also Cornell Lab's Birds of the World. Not a book but from the free sample species it looks pretty extensive, would you recommend it? 49$ a year doesn't seem too much at first but over the years I would use a book it also adds up to a lot of money. The big advantage of an online resource like that is that (in theory) it won't become outdated, but I would be relying on Cornell not to decide to discontinue the service or change the pricing (on top I'm not a big fan of online subscription services).

Any thoughts?
 

Tote

Well-known member
Advanced Bird ID Handbook, Niels van Duivenduijk. No illustrations but a wealth of information.
Identification guide to european Passerines, Lars Svensson , aka "ringer´s bible". Exquisite book. Out of print? Awaiting new edition?
 

Pariah

Stealth Birder
Hi everyone,

as the title suggests I'm looking for a book (or books) with more in-depth about European birds. Right now I own only the latest German version of the Collins bird guide (and also the iOS app on my phone). While it is a great field guide I often wish for more detailed information about birds I found in the field or as preparation when I'm about to go birding for certain targets I'm not yet familiar with.
So what are the best books out there if you don't own anything besides a field guide yet?
  • Shirihai / Svensson: Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds
  • Snow / Perkins: The Birds of the Western Palearctic

The Shirihai/Svensson book covers only passerines so I would later add other books to cover non-passerines. But since it was released in 2018 it is probably more up to date?
The Snow/Perkins book was also released as an iOS app which from a price point seems quite appealing (even though in general I would prefer a book over an app) but distribution and population is outdated. So which would offer more value? Are there must have books I'm missing?

I know there is also Cornell Lab's Birds of the World. Not a book but from the free sample species it looks pretty extensive, would you recommend it? 49$ a year doesn't seem too much at first but over the years I would use a book it also adds up to a lot of money. The big advantage of an online resource like that is that (in theory) it won't become outdated, but I would be relying on Cornell not to decide to discontinue the service or change the pricing (on top I'm not a big fan of online subscription services).

Any thoughts?
The old Macmillan guides are still excellent IMO. It's still a great approach to look a similar groups of species the way they do.



Regards
Owen
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
Advanced Bird ID Handbook, Niels van Duivenduijk. No illustrations but a wealth of information.
It depends to a degree on what additional information you're after. If mainly an ID primer then Shirihai / Svensson is the way to go (albeit just for passerines). In the longer term, I recall seeing an appeal somewhere for photos to produce a photographic guide by Niels van Duivenduijk et al but I don't know any detail (other than it'll probably be a few years away given that they're appealing for photos). There's also new German 600+pp photo guide out which may fit the bill - Die Vögel Mitteleuropas: Das Große Foto-Bestimmungsbuch - but a) I don't read/speak German and b) I've only seen a picture of the cover. Next month WILDGuides are publishing "Europe's Birds" (based on their popular photoguide 'Britain's Birds') which promises to cover 914 species in 3800+ colour photos, 540 colour distribution maps crammed into 608 pages. This should be a useful photographic reference and a good supplement for the Collins Guide. However, if it's further details of bird behaviour, nesting habits, etc., etc you want then Snow / Perkins: The Birds of the Western Palearctic would be most helpful. Obviously, distribution/maps are very dated but this can be resolved by getter the latest European Breeding Bird Atlas!
 

Timbirder3

Well-known member
How about this:


This appears to be a condensed, updated version of the massive 23 volume Hanbuch Der Vogel Mittleuropas, which is still available though really expensive and dated. And it's in German.
Tim
 

James Lidster

Well-known member
It depends to a degree on what additional information you're after. If mainly an ID primer then Shirihai / Svensson is the way to go (albeit just for passerines). In the longer term, I recall seeing an appeal somewhere for photos to produce a photographic guide by Niels van Duivenduijk et al but I don't know any detail (other than it'll probably be a few years away given that they're appealing for photos). There's also new German 600+pp photo guide out which may fit the bill - Die Vögel Mitteleuropas: Das Große Foto-Bestimmungsbuch - but a) I don't read/speak German and b) I've only seen a picture of the cover. Next month WILDGuides are publishing "Europe's Birds" (based on their popular photoguide 'Britain's Birds') which promises to cover 914 species in 3800+ colour photos, 540 colour distribution maps crammed into 608 pages. This should be a useful photographic reference and a good supplement for the Collins Guide. However, if it's further details of bird behaviour, nesting habits, etc., etc you want then Snow / Perkins: The Birds of the Western Palearctic would be most helpful. Obviously, distribution/maps are very dated but this can be resolved by getter the latest European Breeding Bird Atlas!
The new books (2 volumes) from Nils van Duidendijk are due to be published late this year , but first in Dutch. They are trying to fill the last few gaps in the photos,
Jane’s
 

David_

Well-known member
Germany
Thanks for all the recommendations. Probably best would be an photographic guide as an addition to the Collins guide and Birds of the Western Palearctic (either as a second hand book or the app).
I think I will wait for "Europe's Birds" to be released (looks promisin) and than decide on the photographic guide. But the other mentioned books are already added to my second hand book search list so if one of those shows up for cheap I might pick it up
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
For IDs I would consider that passerines are actually where most of the problems are, so the fact that some books are "just for passerines" isn't that much of a drawback.
 

leonardo_simon

Well-known member
Birds of the western palaerctic app is well worth buying. Lots of useful detail. They seem to be updating it too which is good as originally published many years ago. App works on both phone and computer which is great.

I also have the two volume Handbook of western palaearctic birds (passerines) but it’s too big to take anywhere....

I will get the wild guides book too when it comes out. I have found the British birds version useful as a supplement for Collins (when in uk)
 

kuzeycem

Medicinal Birding
Turkey
Honestly I don't think the photoguides mentioned above would have any additional information over Collins. They're obviously different than Collins but in terms of actual field marks, Collins pretty much has everything covered a photoguide could possibly cover.
Being a regional reviewer I get free access to Birds of the World and I'd recommend it very much. Since it was merged with Cornell's earlier "North American Birds", birds with a North American distribution have a much more extensive account than mainstream Eurasian species. But they are updating accounts regularly so it is getting ever more informative.
BWP is insanely informative and I'd say most info about breeding biology, vocalisations etc. still hold up pretty well. But as you said distribution and identification would be out of date.
HWPB is also very extensive with long texts and great photos, and has the advantage of showing many photos of the same plumages and subspecies, effectively "force-feeding" ID marks to you.
And finally Advanced Bird ID Handbook, perfect if you like to see every ID mark laid out in a bullet-point fashion, though lack of pictures can make it a little exhausting.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I have the Danish language version. I do not use it very much given that I live in the Caribbean :D

Niels
 

Jonno52

John (a bad birdwatcher)
Supporter
United Kingdom
I do, it's on the table next to my armchair now, together with Collins (plus elderly copies of Flight Identification of European Raptors, Peter Grant's Gulls, and Peter Hayman's Shorebirds, just because they're classics). The Beaman and Madge book may not be bang up to date in terms of taxonomy and newly emerging knowledge, but I find it very useful.
 

jurek

Well-known member
New Tomasz Cofta book: Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds, reviewed here:

Not only it is a very good book. It covers many very common birds, so you will often actually use it (unlike e.g. rare pelagic seabirds or eagles). It contains new information, which you will not find somewhere else (while e.g. van Duivenduijk's book and species-group guides often repeat each other).

About the photographic guides, they now face strong challenge from online photo repositories and search engines.
 

avifauna

Well-known member
Norway
How about this:


This appears to be a condensed, updated version of the massive 23 volume Hanbuch Der Vogel Mittleuropas, which is still available though really expensive and dated. And it's in German.
Tim
No, this is something different. The complete HDVM is available on CD or similar, in the area of €100 I guess.
 

Robert Wallace

Well-known member
Yes. I bought my copy at the annual bird event at Martin Mere WWT, not long before the Collins Bird Guide (hardback only) was published.
Too big for the field but I always had it handy in the car for birdwatching holidays. Some lovely illustrations, tragically one of the illustrators Laurel Tucker died before publication.
Once met Steve Madge, nice chap who enjoyed a pint. Am I right in thinking he was the first RSPB warden at Fairburn Ings in the 70s?
Lovely book to own.
 
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peterginsburg

Well-known member
Thanks to Andy A for the reminder on Beaman&Madge which is a fine reference that's languished on my shelf for a couple of decades. As to a book dedicated to shorebirds I most highly recommend Chamberlain's Waders by Faansie Peacock (ISBN 978-0620735520). Yes, it's primary focus is southern Africa but it covers nearly all (if not all) species you might encounter. I don't think there is a better book on waders to be found (and I'm a north American!).
Peter
 

David_

Well-known member
Germany
Today the used copy of Birds of the Western Palearctic I had ordered arrived. At first glance the content looks amazing, sadly the condition of the copy I received is not as good as i hoped it would so I will probably send it back. I think I will buy the app instead.
Thanks again for all those recommendations. I really like books so probably a lot of them will at some point arrive on my bookshelves.
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
As to a book dedicated to shorebirds I most highly recommend Chamberlain's Waders by Faansie Peacock (ISBN 978-0620735520). Yes, it's primary focus is southern Africa but it covers nearly all (if not all) species you might encounter. I don't think there is a better book on waders to be found (and I'm a north American!).
Peter
Peacock's book is superb not only thanks to the excellent illustrations but also thanks to the design, layout, annotations & brilliantly informative text. It's an extraordinary individual tour de force. It's a shame he hasn't written a revised edition to cover all waders (or at the very least put together a version for North America and/or Europe/Western Palearctic)
 

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