This is the latest volume in the classic Birds of Africa series and covers the area of Madagascar, the Comoros, Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues, the Seychelles and a few isolated islands in the region.
This is by far the largest volume in this series covering just fewer than 1000 pages before the indices. It is a seriously heavy tome and it will really only remain on your shelf for research but I was sorely tempted to take it with me last time but there would have been some definite excess baggage fees. But I would have not gone wanting for information.
This is one of the most in-depth and complete books on the region covering 487 species, of which 157 are endemic (41.1%) with 41 endemic genera. A huge amount of knowledge about the region is covered in the beginning of the book including the physical geography, climate and vegetation which is as much a part of the unique endemism of the region as the birds are. Each sub-region is also described in depth down to some of the lone islands like Europa and St Brandon, distribution of the species across the region, current status and conservation are also covered.
The first major section of the book is graced with 48 stunning plates or highly detailed and exceptional artwork with plate 48 covering extinct species. Following this are the species descriptions with each family being introduced on a family level then the members of those families. Each species is described in great detail with taxonomy, distribution, description, identification, voice, general habits, food, breeding habits, status and conservation all of which are covered in fine detail. Each species is also accompanied by a range map.
There is an additional 15 plates after the species pages covering the migratory and vagrant species to the region. After this are references on the original descriptions of each species, an exhaustive bibliography and scientific and French index. Overall this is one of the finest books in this series and it fills a huge gap in the birds of the African region. The artwork is exemplary and covers all the plumages and subspecies and the text is very complete and detailed. This is a must for anyone visiting the region or wanting to study the amazing species which reside here and nowhere else. A huge gap in the published knowledge of these birds has now been rectified and this is a must have for any ornithological book shelf.