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The Handbook of Bird Identification: For Europe and the Western Palearctic (Helm Identification Guides) [Hardcover]

Mark Beaman , Steve Madge , Hilary Burn , Dan Zetterstrom , Martin Elliott , Laurel Tucker , Alan Harris , Peter Hayman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Nov 1998 Helm Identification Guides
Identification guide covering all the bird species to have occurred in the European region. The species are covered by family, with each family introduction followed by the relevant colour plates and species accounts and for 625 species there are detailed colour maps within the text.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 872 pages
  • Publisher: Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd (30 Nov 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713639601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713639605
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.4 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 828,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Birdwatching, or Birding, is one of the most popular activities and pastimes in Europe and so it follows that it is essential to be able to identify the birds on view, be it in the back garden or for making more serious in-depth studies.

This book aims to bring together as much information as possible in one volume, using extremely detailed, up-to-date guides and identification of every species known to have occurred in Europe and the West Palearctic, that is, the whole of Europe, North Africa as far south as the Central Sahara, the Middle East to the border of Iran, the Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, the islands off Mauritania and the Cape Verde islands, as defined by Cramp and Simons 1977.

They have certainly been successful in doing so and have produced a wonderfully comprehensive guide covering nearly 900 species, showing a wide range of differing plumages. The colour plates are exquisite and have been painted by some of Europe's leading bird artists. The text is clear and can be followed by beginners but finer points of identification are included for the benefit of more serious bird watchers. Particularly helpful is the cross-referencing of the text and colour plates. There are more than 600 colour maps to identify where the birds are to be found, which are simple and easy to use with excellent descriptions of status and habitat.

Authors Beaman and Madge are both extremely well known in their field and are widely revered. Mark Beaman is the pioneer of modern professional bird tours in Europe, having travelled more extensively in the Palearctic region than any other ornithologist. He has made many important written contributions on the subject of bird identification. Steve Madge has also written a number of articles on bird identification and is the author of other bird books in the Helm series, receiving the Best Bird Book of the Year Award in 1988 for Crows and Jays. He too is a partner in a bird tour company. --Susan Naylor


"Unrivalled as a single volume guide.It is so thorough that if you can't identify what you have seen from its pages the bird probably doesn't exist. [The authors] write with authority, flair and wit... First published in 1998, it remains fresh and relevant." -- Eric Brown, Gravesend Reporter, January 2007

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a beauty 4 Feb 2006
This is a fantastic reference book for birders of all levels. Lovely colour plates and great descriptive text that will have you drooling. Not a guide for field use though, and you may need to reinforce your bookshelf. For me it was love at first sight.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but maybe not the best for kindle ? 26 Dec 2011
By MikeH
Format:Kindle Edition
3 stars is specifically for the kindle version. I have not had the book long so will take a while to fully assess but seems very comprehensive with more than enough detail for a not very experienced birder such as myself. This was purchased while on holiday in Crete for reference as I had not bought along a field guide. The point about this not being ideal for kindle is well made by a previous reviewer. While the written information is still there much of the picture and map detail is lost when viewing on the current kindle eBook. And this is not a cheap purchase. The kindle fire will serve it better I guess when it comes out in the UK. I bought this knowing that I would be transferring it to iPad and eventually to my laptop via the kindle app so at least I have the pictures in colour. You can also zoom in a little but the effect is blurry. As one would not tend to read this in a linear fashion as you would a novel, navigation is also an issue. Again much easier on the iPad than on the kindle. It is a compromise, no question so you should keep that in mind considering the expense, but it did come in very handy and I may consider buying the hard back version at some point. One point regarding the content which concerns me a little but which may be down to my own lack of experience is the accuracy of some of the distribution maps. For example, certain birds of prey not seemingly occurring in Crete when other local books say that they do, trying to find which green coloured warblers I have seen commonly but none of which seem to be occurring according to the maps, waxwings seemingly not occurring in the UK when plainly they do. Although recently reprinted the book is a few years old now. I wonder if some things have changed in the interim, whether I am missing something or whether some of the information is incorrect. But as I say on the whole the book is tremendously detailed and informative.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Only serious guide avaible, but limited. 28 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I already have this book and purchased it for my Kindle as I wanted a bird guide for my trip to Finland without the weight of a book. Normally I take Collins Bird Guide away with me but this was the only serious guide available for the Western Palearctic on Kindle. I knew the text would suit my needs and it gave me all the general information I needed. However I soon realized that the small plates were a serious disadvantage with up to 8 species crowded onto one page. And just as in the paper version, the plates are grouped away from the text. Fortunately there is a link to the correct plate from the text for each bird. This book does not go into the same topographical detail as Collins so I found it difficult to separate unfamiliar birds from such small drawings, Buntings for example. Another niggle was the lack of an index - you had to plough through each family of birds to get to the species you wanted, and annoyingly vagrants always seemed to come first!
Personally I feel I made a big mistake leaving my Collins at home and why it is not yet on Kindle is a mystery because it it is every birdwatchers bible. However this Handbook certainly gives you lots of interesting information that is not in Collins and it is in many ways a good complement. But as a pure guide it is limited.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was purchased in the Kindle format for use with my Samsung Galaxy SIII. Disappointingly, there seem to be few UK bird and wildlife publications for ebooks and The Handbook of Bird Identification: For Europe and the Western Palearctic was one of the few available in this format. This is my first ebook so it has been very much a trial and error experience. As a reference book with the need to flick the pages back and forth from illustrations to text, it can be a little fiddly in this form. Although, by clicking on the species name highlighted in brown text in the main pages, it instantly switches to the colour plates. Annoyingly, clicking on the genus headings does not take you to the relevant plates and it is therefore necessary so search through the pages for individual birds as there is no index available of the bird names. On the plus side, the Kindle edition is less than half the price of the equivalent hardback copy and can also be viewed on a standard computer as well as a smartphone. And of course the book can be taken with me wherever I go; whether birding locally, nationally or even abroad, (and this was the primary reason for the purchase) so it was always going to be a compromise between portability and ease of use. The Collins Bird Guide by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterström and Peter J. Grant is out shortly in the Kindle format so it may be worth waiting to see how this compares.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fab 12 Jan 2013
By graeme
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good ref on the move, great artworks and a superb level of detail given on each family. Another fab title.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book. 25 Sep 2012
By Geordie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought for my wife who is a closet 'twicher'. She loves it and, as I've read, if you can't identify the bird from this book, it probably doesn't exist.
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