Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore

Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore
G W H Davison and Chew Yen Fook
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing, London
1st edition published:  2017
Page Count:  144
ISBN Number:  9781472938237

This small field guide might be conveniently sized and priced, but it also leaves a lot to be desired. The first point to note is its conciseness: the author has chosen 252 bird species to feature in the book, out of an approximate 690 described species in the area. It does mention the four endemic species in the introduction, but then fails to produce the endemic Malayan whistling-thrush in the book. Contrastingly, the Nicobar pigeon has not yet been recorded on mainland Malaysia – only sparsely on the neighbouring of Langkawi – but has made it into the book. The lack of distribution maps forces the user to read the entire description of each bird before discovering whether it can be found in the region, which combined with the highly varied quality of images makes for a difficult species-level identification.

On a different note, in the author’s ‘Field Equipment’ paragraph, he recommends readers to remove ticks by “using fingernails (judiciously) or a canine shampoo” – advice that seems to be poorly judged given the invention of the tick twister and other tools. All in all, this book may be good for the beginning birdwatcher to determine birds down to family or genus level, but the experienced birdwatcher will want to stick with more thorough guides.

Faye Vogeley