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4.8 out of 5 stars
Collins Bird Guide
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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2007
If you looking for a guide to help identify the birds you will see in Britain or Western Europe this is it.
***Buy this book before you consider buying any other bird guide***
Why?
Firstly you should never buy a bird guide that uses just photographs to show the birds. Take my word for it they will never in one photograph be able to show perfectly every feature required for correct id or capture colour variations accurately. The illustrations in this book show every detail perfectly, highlighting the relevant features, showing similar species together, covering male/female/juvenile plumages where necessary and importantly in accurate colour.
2, The descriptions are superb, every distinguishing plumage or vocal detail covered, telling you exactly what you need to know.
3, Useful detail is given about the status of the species, whether it is resident, a migratory visitor or a rare vagrant.
4, Maps showing likely range of each bird are shown, including colour detail that shows whether it is likely to be present all-year, winter or summer.
In summary this is a monumental effort by the authors to create the perfect bird guide in book form. As the owner of dozens of bird guides, I can say this is as close as I have seen.
I repeat, you should buy this before buying any other Bird Guide.
A copy of this book and a good audio guide to songs and calls is all you should need to identify the vast majority of birds you will see in the area covered by it.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2007
In short - if you want an identification guide to European birds this is easily the best available to date.

On the cover it says 'The most complete field guide to the birds of Britain and Europe' and (at least at the present time) this is certainly true. The book is a little large to fit in most pockets - but all birdwatchers should be encouraged to carry a field notebook anyway (leave this book in the car, or at home or your hotel!) - if you do want to carry a guide with you it will fit in some large coat pockets, or easily into a backpack.

The illustrations, which are on the page facing the text and maps for each species, are excellent and show the birds in a variety of different positions (often including in flight), and illustrate all of the different plumages that are likely to be encountered. Important features are highlighted on the ilustrations by means of text captions and pointers.

The text is concise and contains all the most important information on identification and size, including verbal descriptions of songs and calls (often calls confirm an otherwise uncertain bird identification). Anyone who is not used to bird guides, and the birds themselves, will probably find that the phonetics mean very little - however if you have already heard the species being described they form an accurate reminder.

Anyone who uses a PDA may wish to consider the e-guide version, which has all the ilustrations and information from the book + recordings of the birds songs and calls - personally I find a book and CD (or MP3 files) easier!!
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2004
I bought this book on recommendation from this website.
It is an excellent guide, the drawings are first class.
I am only a part time bird watcher mainly from my kitchen window and the occasional walk in the local wood.
But this book has been invaluable to me.
Buy it you won't be disappointed.
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118 of 122 people found the following review helpful
This book emerged onto a highly competitive market already burgeoning with numerous field guides, most by renowned authors and many having benefitted from improvement over several editions. Quite simply though, this book won instant recognition as the best field guide available for Europe - and perhaps a model for field guides everywhere. Its authors are well known experts in their field having spent many years studying and publishing on the birds of the region. However, the key to the guide's success is the fact that so much more useful information has been condensed into a guide which is much the same size as existing books. The book boasts excellent illustrations, succinct text and handy maps, all presented on a the same page. Small enough to fit into a pocket and cheap, it is a must for anyone even remotely interested in British or European birds. Don't hesitate!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
To me this is the BOOK. Unlike a few I've seen this book is ideal for beginners like myself who although has been interested in bird watching and wild life for years, I decided that this year as I was on Holiday in Norfolk it was perhaps an ideal time to get started. This book I have found is one of the best I have found so far. Now all I need is a good scope to enjoy whats in the book even more.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2007
Put purely and simply, this is the best bird identification guide I have ancountered. I have many different ones and they all have their charms but for a truly amazing, comprehensive and detailed list of all the birds of Britain and Europe, this wins hands down. The illustrations are beautiful, and incredibly accurate, with details of all plumages (summer/winter/adult/sub-adult/juvenile), and details of sub-species. General behaviour, physical description, and calls and songs are all detailed superbly. I haven't even had this book for 24 hours yet and already I love it - that says quite alot, I think!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2003
Imagine a detailed description of every species you're likely to see in Europe? The descriptions include measurements, habitats, likely breeding range, maps, distribution, frequency of sightings, sounds and likelihood of seeing them (rated from 1 to 5 as well as V for vagrants). Moreover, the drawings are of the highest order and extremely detailed. The authors have also added some drawings of some typical postures (ie, cormorants drying their wings) as well as drawings of some birds when seen under poor light conditions etc.. In short, the perfect guide.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 June 2004
This book has to be the best field guide available. The only guidee to rival it is Lars Johnsonn's Birds of Europe (HELM). But unlike that book, every illustration is superb. Johnsonn's illustrations are excellent, some superb, but let down by illustrations of gulls for example. But in this collins bird guide, every illustration is superb. Buy this book and enjoy it. Only two slight criticisms: the illustrations are small, as is the print. But if you want a portable guide, this is it. Otherwise, there is a larger edition available.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2006
Since being a child I've been borrowing my dad's weatherbeaten copy of Bertel Bruun's masterpiece, without ever finding an adequate replacement.

This one's finally taken over, crammed with beautiful photos, informative text, and great little touches that make identification easier. There's plenty of extra drawings of species' behaviour to get rid of the unavoidable "stuffed animal" nature of bird plates, and each species has a description of song. There's even an easy to read guide to help you ascertain how common British species are. Yes it's pretty crammed, but all with relevant information, in a book that's deserved to be the new standard for birdwatchers everywhere.

Dad, you can have your book back now.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This book is a little large to carry while out and about and I have mentioned one or two other books in my reviews that are better suited to slipping into the pocket when going out for the day. These smaller books are great for getting an ID, then when you return home something like this book will give you even more information about the species you have spotted.

I agree that photographs can be very nice particularly in large format books but a good drawing can give far more detail about juvenile and adult plumage etc. The book also goes into detail with maps about the areas in which the birds are likely to be found, size, habitat etc., in fact virtually everything you need to know about each species.

There are many many excellent bird books about at the moment. New printing techniques and use of lots of colour has improved the books no end, but this is as good as any of them.
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