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All the Birds of the World (cover)

Publisher: Lynx Edicions, Barcelona

Publication Year: 2020

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 968

ISBN Number: 9788416728374

Price: £ 85.00

All the Birds of the World

Lynx have had a long-term project to produce an exhaustive guide to the birds of the world. It started out with the 17 volumes of the Handbook of the Birds of the World (1992-2013) which has family and species accounts for all birds. This was followed by the two volumes of the Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World (2014-16). They have now published the third and final stage of this avian odyssey with this current book.

The publishers state that the book’s aim is “to bring the extraordinary richness and diversity of the world’s avifauna closer to a wider audience.”  They do not see it as just an extension to the earlier works but believe they can give access to more people by concentrating on illustrations and range maps for all species, rather than delving too much into the subspecies level.

The layout starts with an introduction followed by 800 pages comprising individual species illustrations and maps. There are also Appendices covering extinct species, differences in nomenclature, country codes, reference maps and one country endemics. The introduction sets out what to expect from each species account. As well as one or more illustrations for each species there is a range map showing wintering, breeding and residency areas. In addition, the body length of the species and its altitudinal range are given along with the current IUCN Red List of Extinction Risk category (ranging from Least Concern to Extinct in the Wild). The number of subspecies is given and distinct subspecies are also illustrated. There is a square checkbox for you to keep a personal record if required.

There are two other key pieces of information in the species accounts. The first is a four segment circle called the taxonomic circle. The introduction goes into some detail about the four different world checklists that currently exist and how, whilst largely overlapping, they each have their own approach to the splitting and lumping of species based on different criteria.  The taxonomic circle aims to summarise the differences between the four lists. This probably is more of interest to those with a deeper interest in ornithological taxonomy and does take a bit of scrutiny to understand.

The second is the QR code for each species. This links via a smart phone app to the online resources of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and it gives you access to all sorts of detailed information including photos, calls and video recordings. This links the book with the increasingly digital world many people live in.

The more I looked at this book the more I liked it. I am going to use it to keep my world list and will use the QR codes to get more detailed info on any species I am interested in. For those who cannot afford or do not want all the previous volumes this might indeed open up access to the fascinating world of bird species.

Book reviewed by Steve Hunter

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