Birds of Java, Sumatra & Bali

Birds of Java, Sumatra & Bali
Tony Tilford & Alain Compost
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 2017
Page Count:  136
ISBN Number:  9781472938183

A small and reasonably priced field guide, this might seem like a logical first option when looking for a guide to these three Indonesian islands. However, you do get what you pay for: the experienced birder will be left disappointed.

The guide covers 236 of the approximate 635 species described in the region, including the most common and charismatic species. The complete lack of distribution maps means you have to read the accompanying text for each species to discover if the species is present in the area – but even then, this information is lacking in many (e.g. Black-shouldered Kite, Great Argus, Asian Koel). The images are highly variable in quality – the Black Eagle is nothing but a black shape in the sky, discerning no identifiable features. These factors combined make species-level identification incredibly difficult.

All in all, this guide might be useful for the beginning birder in Indonesia, especially to identify down to family or genus level. For any more in-depth identification, this guide will probably leave you wanting more.
Faye Vogeley