Basics: 1997, hardcover, 400 pages, 48 color plates of 145 species, range maps
This is an ambitious identification book tackling 145 species of one of the more challenging groups of birds in the Old World. The area covers all Europe, Africa north of the Sahara, the Middle East, and all continental Asia across Russia to Japan and south through India and SE Asia. Not included are the species found only in Africa south of the Sahara, in the East Indies, Australia, and the Pacific islands. Besides warblers, the book includes the related tailorbirds, prinias, and kinglets.
Each of the 48 color plates illustrates 2-4 species with 4-10 different subjects. Most of the birds have 2-5 different plumages illustrated. These illustrations are of good but not great quality. The colors often appear too bright or rich, especially with the greens and yellows. At times, the artistic style makes the birds appear a little rough and sacrifices accurate detail in the birds. The artwork in Parmenter's book (Guide to the Warblers of the Western Palaearctic) is better.
Scattered throughout the book are nearly 60 black-and-white illustrations that offer additional detail necessary for identification. These drawings show tail patterns, relative lengths of primaries, patterning of the vent feathers and, head and facial patterns.
Each bird is covered in 1-2 pages of text. Nearly everything in the text relates to describing the bird or to documenting the various subspecies. The key sections offered for each bird are identification (nearly half the text), description, geographical variation, moult, voice, habitat/behavior, and distribution. This information is quite thorough and is rich with species comparisons garnered from a wide array of references. Reinforcing the focus of this book as an identification guide, the Chiffchaff has over two pages dedicated to just "identification". This section addresses nine different species with which the Chiffchaff may be confused. Identification notes are offered to help separate out each of the nine birds. The only natural history information offered is within the sections on moult and habitat.
A range map is supplied with each bird opposite from each plate. These maps are the weaker part of the book. Besides being small and covering an enormous range, the ranges are often only generalized at best. Three different colors denote resident, breeding, and non-breeding visitors. Many of the maps are printed so lightly that the borders of the various countries cannot be seen. This necessitated an errata sheet to be printed for 26 of the maps in the earlier printings of the book. More than just 26 maps should have been reprinted since many others are rather pale.
This book is recommended for anyone with an interest - or frustration - with the Old World warblers. It is an invaluable asset for identifying and understanding this difficult group of birds.
I've listed several related books below...
1) Guide to the Warblers of the Western Palearctic by Parmenter
2) Sylvia Warblers by Shirihai et al.
3) A Field Guide to the Warblers of Britain and Europe by Moore
4) The Chiffchaff by Clement
5) Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East by Jonsson
6) Birds of Europe by Mullarney et al.