Bowerbirds were long thought to be related to birds of paradise, and both taxa form part of a unique suite of birds found only in the Papua, New Guinea/Australia region. While not as colourful as the birds of paradise, the distinctive life style of bowerbirds and the long-held assumption of their affinities with birds of paradise, merits their coverage in one volume. In fact their traditional association begs for coverage in one volume!
And this is what Phil Gregory has done.
In the long history of identification guides this book is a tour de force. From start to finish, it is packed with information, superb artwork, splendid photographs, and a visual stimulus that is hard to beat. Sometimes I compare modern ID guides to some of the old and still treasured volumes on my shelves, and the advances that have been made are astounding. Even within that context, this work ascends to starry heights.
The introduction, covering forty pages, is broken into two disarmingly simple sections that ask the question, "What is a bird of paradise?" and "What is a bowerbird?" The answers to both questions are laid out with precision, clarity and completeness.
I am always very fond of having a glossary in a specialized work, and the one in this volume is as good as I have ever seen, so comprehensive is it.
What then follows is a complete list of all the birds of paradise and all the bowerbirds, with very pleasing artwork by Richard Allen, and a link to the page where coverage of the individual species is rendered in detail, with accompanying photographs and range maps.
The book ends with an impressive bibliography. My "go to" authorities for birds of paradise and bowerbirds have long been Clifford and Dawn Frith, followed by Bruce Beehler, so I was very pleased to see extensive inclusion of the works of these authorities in the bibliography.As a lifelong birder and a dedicated student of the scientific aspects of ornithology, I feel fortunate to be able to benefit from the superb books that are available today. My shelves are filled with volumes acquired over many years, all valuable resources, all representing hours of pleasure, many much used, dogeared and bearing the marks of being carried in the field. I have looked carefully at some of my favourite works and I can say without hesitation that this impressive work will quickly ascend to the top of the list. And I will be visiting Australia later this year. What a treasure it will be!
Select pages from Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds: An Identification Guide
Phil Gregory, illustrated by Richard Allen. Copywright © 2020 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission.
Hardcover - US$45.00 - 9780691202143
416 pages - 40 colour plates - 151 colour photos - 77 maps - 6 3/4 in. x 9 3/8 in.
Publication date: 25 February 2020