Birds of Kruger National Park

Birds of Kruger National Park
Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens
Publisher:  Princeton University Press, Princeton (NJ) & Oxford
Page Count:  224
ISBN Number:  9780691161266

Although the main reason for many when visiting Kruger National Park in South Africa is to see the big mammals like Rhinos, Lions, Buffalo and Elephants, the abundant birdlife in the park cannot be ignored.  With over 500 species of bird recorded within the park, this guide only covers 259 likely to be encountered on any given day, and so it is far from, and not intended to be, an exhaustive identification guide to everything that occurs there. 

Although I am not generally a fan of photographic guides due to their often limited plumages and postures of birds, which are easier to capture in more traditional artwork plates, the images in this book are excellent throughout and where possible, photographs of the different sexes have been included. The breaking down of the species into habitats – rivers & wetlands, broad-leaved woodland & camps and forests & riverine thicket will help narrow the search down, while birds of prey & vultures and owls are dealt with in their own groupings. Given the complexities of raptor identification and how many years many of these species take to attain full adult plumage, the birds of prey & vultures section is a bit limited, but does include a wide range of flight pictures with species side by side for comparison.

This book seems more aimed at those with a passing interest in the birds rather than serious birders, and I personally would take a field guide for all of South Africa (such as the Sasol Birds of Southern Africa book by Ian Sinclair, P. A. R. Hockey, and W. R Tarboton) on my travels there to cover all eventualities. For those only visiting the park for the first time and wishing to take a lighter field guide with them however, this is an excellent book to consider.
Neil Calbrade