Most helpful positive review
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
More than just an identification guide
on 29 April 2014
I have used several different bird books over the years, but in my opinion this is by far the best single book for birdwatchers. I know that many birders rate other books, such as the Collins Bird Guide, more highly as identification guides. But this book is perfectly adequate for identifying birds in most circumstances, and it has the advantage of being much more than just an identification guide.
As well as excellent illustrations and details on identification, voice, habitat and habits, there are sections for each bird on its food, breeding behaviour, distribution, movements, migration, population and conservation. So if you want to know something about the lives of the birds you are identifying and enjoying, then this is the book for you.
Of course this book only covers British birds, whereas the Collins Guide covers all European birds. But the Collins Guide has the big disadvantage of having maps which are far too small, whereas the maps in this RSPB Handbook are excellent. (There is a distribution map for each species on the same page as the illustrations and text for that species.)
Finally, there is the question of whether it is worth buying this new fourth edition if you already have the third edition, which was published four years ago in 2010. The main changes are in the updating of the distribution maps and the population statistics. There are not a lot of changes other than this, but for me it was worth buying the new edition for this up-to-date information.