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Birds of the West Indies (cover)

Publisher: Lynx Edicions, Barcelona

Publication Year: 2019

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 400

ISBN Number: 9788416728183

Price: £ 49.99

Birds of the West Indies

Having recently been to the West Indies bird watching and bird ringing, I was disappointed at the selection of bird guides available for the region with them all appearing to be reprints of older books, which while serviceable, are definitely in need of updating. Therefore, it’s good to see a new, modern guide for the region come out, even if it’s a few weeks too late for me to make use of personally, at least for now!

Covering 29 countries and territories from the Bahamas in the north to Grenada in the south and from Cuba in the west to Barbados in the east (c. 115 major islands), this guide has the task of covering over 700 species (c. 190 endemic). After the obligatory and fairly thorough introduction to the region and its bird life the book launches into the species entries. The layout follows general practice with modern field guides with detailed but clear entries covering all important aspects of the species in question. The illustrations are clean and generally of high quality, covering most (although not necessarily all) relevant plumage variation although the odd illustration still looks a bit old fashioned. Especially useful, given the variation between islands, is the coverage of subspecies both in text, images and on the range maps with taxonomy following the Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World.

An extra feature of the species accounts as with other recent Lynx bird guides are specific QR codes that take you to the species entry on the HBW Internet Bird Collection website with photographs, videos and perhaps most importantly given the various rainforest islands of the Caribbean often making birds difficult to view, sound recordings. It’s a useful additional feature, although given the limitations of international roaming charges and signal strength, possibly more for use back at your accommodation on Wi-Fi while on holiday or back at home than out in the field.

On the practical side of things, the plasticised cover on the flexi-bound edition adds some much-appreciated sturdiness over a standard softback. It is though quite large and heavy for a field guide making it too big for pockets, although it is perhaps understandable given its scope. Also at £44.99/£49.99 RRP it is also rather expensive compared to the older, smaller West Indies bird guides available for under £20, which could make users reluctant to use it out in the field as well as justifying its purchase in the first place.

Still despite the niggles on size and cost, given its other advantages over the previous guides, it is an excellent contribution to furthering ornithology in the region and I would highly recommend it if you’re considering a birding trip to the West Indies.

Book reviewed by Hugh Hanmer

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