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Birds of New Zealand, Hawaii, Central and West Pacific (Collins Field Guide) Hardcover – 31 Mar 2011

4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (31 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007287380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007287383
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ber van Perlo has written and illustrated numerous books, including the highly successful Birds of Southern Africa. He studied garden and landscape architecture at the Agricultural University of Wageningen in the Netherlands before working as a geographer and physical planner with the National Forestry Service of the Netherlands. During a holiday in Kenya in 1982 he discovered that no field guide existed which depicted all bird species of the area. He began to produce field guides for various regions of Africa, eventually extending to the Indian Subcontinent and Middle and Southern America.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Keith Betton on 24 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Given that this book has to cover 780 species in twenty political entities, you might imagine that it is substantial. However it is incredibly small - in fact too small. Measuring just 20 cm by 13 cm (the same as Collins's recent volumes on the Palearctic by Norman Arlott), up to ten species are featured in each double page spread, with text and maps on the left-facing colour illustrations.

The area covered is so enormous it is hard to contemplate. The distance from Palau at the western extreme across to the Pitcairn Islands in the east is 11,500 kilometres, which is even further than the distance from Palau to the UK! Needless to say there are plenty of endemics on offer across the range with New Zealand and Hawaii hosting 65 and 33 respectively. A further 87 endemics are to be found in the other areas covered by the book. In declining order of endemism these are Fiji (28), French Polynesia (24), Micronesia (15), Palau (10), Samoa (8), Cook Islands (6), Pitcairn Islands (5), Tonga and North Marianas (2 each), Kiribati and Guam (1 each), while American Samoa, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Niue, Wallis and Futuna have none.

Once again Ber Van Perlo's has painted pictures of all the species. Certainly his illustrations are better than in some of his earlier books but for me they still lack detail and they are crammed in too tightly onto the small pages. The main plumages for each species are illustrated, with both sexes usually shown when they are different. Juveniles are also shown for a selection of species, but these are far too few. Similarly only some are shown in flight. The text gives very brief information on identification features, habitat, and vocalisations. For some species these really don't help much. For example Killdeer is described as follows: "Unmistakable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andres M. Dewet on 27 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
It must be said that we need to thank Ber van Perlo for boldly going with field guides where nobody has gone before. Opening up new areas and covering more territory than many other field guides. However, Ber van Perlo is not the best illustrator in the world, so do not expect the plates to be artistic masterpieces one may expect from Norman Arlott or Guy Tudor. For plate quality, rather go for H. Douglas Pratt's "The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific." This older guide also illustrates extinct species in this hard-hit region and covers all of Polynesia and Micronesia from Hawaii to Fiji to Palau, except New Zealand (and its offshore islands) and Melanesia.

I was greatly disappointed to find the title a little misleading. The title's "West Pacific" does not include any part of Melanesia. Do not let the initial scope of works mislead you. The pre-publication brief stated all Pacific birds would be covered as far west as Papua New Guinea. If you need a guide to the birds of the Bismarck Archipelago, Vanuatu, Solomons or New Caledonia, I would advise to wait till September 2011 for the publication of Birds of Melanesia.

Unfortunately, I would advise getting the old H. Douglas Pratt guide for Pacific Island birds, another guide for New Zealand, of which there are a couple and to wait for the Birds of Melanesia. This will probably give you the best coverage for the entire Pacific, make identification easier and give you better artwork in your Avian book collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By daubentonia on 21 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
It's good to get a book covering such a wide but cohesive area , but there is a downside. The size of the book , although good for a pocket , means the illustration size and info are less than ideal . The author , creditably , accepts this , unfortunately some of the illustrations look far too light and lack a sense of weight . The larger the bird , the less likely the picture is up to standard . I don't know if the Nicobar Pigeon in the Pacific is different those on the continent , but the picture certainly differs from the ones i've seen . The lack of a conservation status other than "rare" is unfortunate ,it may be an attempt to keep the book current , but isn't helpfull . There are no illustrations of extinct speceis ,which would have been welcome in this hardhit area , especially as every birdwatcher secretly wants to rediscover a lost bird. So , two cheers and keep hold of your old guides for now.
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By TonyB on 5 May 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this for a friend moving to NZ and she has found it invaluable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A field guide of average plates and sparse text 19 April 2011
By Jack Holloway - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
THE BASICS:
hardcover; 2011, 256pp; contains 95 mediocre quality plates containing 750+ species across the Pacific Islands; most birds have minimal text for descriptions and identification; a few words are given for the typical habitat and a very brief description is given on the vocalization; a small, sometimes ineffectual, range map is provided for each bird

THE REVIEW:
In a manner similar to other bird books by the author, this book straddles an imaginary line between a field guide and an illustrated annotated checklist. With its 95 plates, all 750+ species found in the central and western Pacific islands are illustrated in color. The only notable island chains in the Pacific not included are the Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and the Bismarck Archipelago. In a field guide format, the plates are adjacent to the birds' names and their respective text. However, the quality of the illustrations as well as the limited depth and amount of text is at the minimal end of the spectrum you'd expect from a decent field guide.

The plates by the author/illustrator are not bad but, they do look incomplete; or, perhaps more accurately, hastily finished as if it was time to move on to start a new book for another part of the world. It is readily apparent the artwork lacks fine, smooth detail. The artwork shows a rough, more generalized color patterning. Although this method can be used to assist with the identification of the bird, it does not lend itself to to reliably identify the bird. In fact, these are the roughest drawings I've seen in any of van Perlo's works. These plates are starkly different from what the publisher touts on the back cover which is "...illustrated in stunning detail...". The only thing stunning was the incongruity of that statement.

Even the author contradicts the publisher's claim. On page 7, he understandably defends his artistic style by saying, "It is said that the painting in my books is 'a bit sketchy, somewhat fast and loose, not finely finished'". He then counters with, "...painting each individual feather will give too much information unless the feathers form a pattern. I also find it difficult to draw straight lines...when depicting the parallel primaries in a folded wing, or perfect circles when forming an eye..."

These plates will still offer some help to identify the bird; but, a confident identification would be more fairly credited to the fact that so many of the birds are island restricted and do not overlap with a similar species. On the plus side, many different plumages are included to show genders, ages, and races. The inclusion of extra paintings often creates a very crowded page with small illustrations. As an example, one of the gull pages is packed with 44 illustrations in an area of only 6.5 x 4.5 inches.

The text for each bird typically consists of 2-4 lines that may address descriptions, or identification tips, or preferred habitat. Identification material is not just very scant but is often absent for some of the birds. Here are complete examples used to describe three different birds:

1) Atiu Swiftlet reads: "Somewhat contrasting paler underparts".
2) Red-necked Stint reads: "Note short bill. Non-breeding plumage not safely separable from [birds] 48.7 and 49.5, 49.7 and 49.9".
3) Lastly, which plover do you think fits the following description: "Small; appears slender and rather long-legged. Without or with very narrow wing stripe."?

Although the number of species in this book (about 750) is less than some other field guides, the huge expanse of territory covered and the relatively few species to be found in a specific island group poses some logistical, if not frustrating consequences. If you go birding in Tahiti, or Fiji, or Hawaii, you can expect to see maybe 30-40 species in a casual 5-7 day trip. Anyone unfamiliar with an Amakihi or a Silktail is going to be a bit frustrated trying to leaf through the book to find either bird since the birds are arranged taxonomically and not by island group.

Each bird is accompanied by a range map. Unfortunately, these maps are small (1 x 1.5 cm) with tiny geographic outlines and symbols. The eastern half of Australia shown in the maps is only 3mm across. The vast expanses covered by these maps can make many of these maps relatively ineffective. The maps often show a constellation of dots representing a chain of islands. One of those dots might be highlighted to show the bird's presence. It is probably only the rare person who is geographically savvy enough to recognize which tiny dot is which island amongst the myriad of different island clusters.

Yes, this is the only bird book to illustrate all the birds of Hawaii, and New Zealand, and all the island groups between Pitcairn and Palau. Alas, that is not necessarily a good thing, just as it would not be good to illustrate all the birds of California and of Denmark into one book, especially when accompanied by weak illustrations and minimal identification material.

This book will be handy to learn what birds exist throughout the Pacific but, I would not make it the single reference for a birding trip destined to one or two island groups (e.g., Hawaii, or New Zealand, or Tahiti, or Samoa, etc.) There are much better alternatives for those areas. In fact, nearly any area of the Pacific has a better alternative book. If you use this book, be sure to supplement it with one that specializes on the area(s) you will visit. - (written by Jack at Avian Review with sample pages, April 2011)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Unusable on Kindle or Ipad 29 Mar. 2012
By William Pate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I rarely spend the time to review a purchase. But this e-book download is so seriously flawed, it is a gracious act to warn others. Simply put this e-book is completely unusable on an iPad or Kindle. There is no organizing structure to permit one to use the book. There is no relationship between the artwork and the descriptions of the birds, nor is there way to bounce from one to the other. There are colored coded hot links that are supposed to allow you to drill down from the index, but they do not work. Oh some of them work to allow you to drill down one level, but when you attempt to drill down another level to a specific bird you are instead taking one level higher in the hierarchy to where you started. There is no way to browse the bird art. There is no way to access the relevant range maps for any specific bird.

My wife and I tried to use this in a recent trip to New Zealand, but we needed just a moment to discover that this was an impossibility.

My comments apply only to the Kindle edition, the hard copy may be a fine book for all I know. I wish someone had warned us. This is another example where if Amazon gave minus stars for a ranking, they would be well earned by this e-book!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but with problems. 18 Aug. 2012
By Marina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is one that caught my eye when I found it at a gallery, and I soon bought it. For days I found the illustrations and information difficult to keep away from, but there are a few problems with it.

Though the author seems to have put plenty of effort into the artwork, it hardly compares with most of today's more expertly and carefully done bird paintings. In some instances, the presentation of the artwork is downright unacceptable, especially in the case of page 114, which depicts only the heads of both male and female peafowls, but not a single other body part.

Some of the mapping in this book does not look very reliable, either. I live in New Zealand, and I instantly knew that some of the information given was blatantly incorrect. Some examples are that the distribution map of the Canada goose in the country is shown as being smaller than what it is, the Cirl bunting is shown to have a far larger distribution in New Zealand than what it is, several birds that are vagrants to the country are instead marked as 'rare', and the banded rail is shown to be present throughout New Zealand, when its actual distribution is actually rather sparse. Due to the fact that the mapping of birds in the country that I live in is inaccurate, then I highly doubt the information is accurate for the many other islands represented in this book.

All in all, this book is okay but not entirely reliable, and I seriously recommend owning a book about an individual island or island group's birds before purchasing this one.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
What William said 2 April 2012
By Madeleine Stovel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Do not buy the Kindle edition of this book if you use the Kindle app on your iPad! Can I get my money back?
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