Basics: 2005, 8th edition, softcover, 255 pages, 100 color plates, 600+ species, no range maps
When comparing the first edition of this book to the more recent eighth edition, a very positive evolution is apparent in the artwork. Covering all the birds found in Hong Kong, this guide does a superb job at illustrating them. Where applicable, multiple illustrations are given for the various plumages, such as male vs. female, fresh vs. worn, and adult vs. juvenile. This variation helps to make the book one of the top choices for birding in southeast China. Just to offer a critique, perhaps a little more definition could have been put into the illustrations of the various Muscicapa flycatchers; some of the Phylloscopus warblers appear a bit too green; and, the Acrocephala warblers need a little more detail in the plumages. However, nearly all artists (and birders) would probably receive the same criticism for these tough groups.
The text for each bird ranges from 4-10 lines of concise physical descriptions along with identification notes. These comments are quite often little too brief, but they are still very helpful. Another sentence or two covers the voice, status, and range of the bird.
To make the book a bit more functional, a nice feature was the inclusion of a specific symbol next to the bird's name. This symbol designates the bird's annual presence in Hong Kong. Another nice touch not found in many other field guides is providing a section on birding locations. Nine pages cover a variety of birding locations in Hong Kong along with a list of birds expected to be found.
As a side note, many of the artist's illustrations in this book are found in an earlier title, Chim Viet Nam (Birds of Vietnam) of 2000. However, the printing in this Hong Kong book are done with greater clarity and color reproduction.
It would be great to see this field guide expanded to cover all of China. Doing so would make it the better guide for this country. For anyone familiar with the artist's works, that last statement might seem a bit contradictory since the other English guide (A Field Guide to the Birds of China by MacKinnon & Phillipps) shares the same artist. However, this Hong Kong guide uses different illustrations that seem to be a little sharper and are certainly larger. If your trip to China involves only Hong Kong, I recommend this book over the other notably bulkier (and more fragile of binding) book. -- (written by Jack, shown with sample pages at Avian Review, July 2008)
I've listed several related books below...
1) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong by HKBS (ISBN 9621428947)
2) The Avifauna of Hong Kong by Carey (ISBN 9627508020)
3) Hong Kong Birds by Herklots
4) The Birds of China by de Schauensee
5) A Field Guide to the Birds of China by MacKinnan/Phillipps
6) Birds of China by Zhang
7) Les oiseaux de Chine, de Mongolie et de Coree non passereaux by Etchecopar
8) Photographic Guide to Birds of China by MacKinnon/Hicks