Hello fellow bird lovers!
I have another field guide review for you today. The Princeton Field Guide: Birds of the Middle East by Richard Porter & Simon Aspinall. This field guide is not unlike the other Princeton Field Guides1. It begins with a succinct but informative introduction, giving some insight into the area being covered in the guide, why certain birds were excluded, why some disputed birds were included. It includes a thorough illustrated diagram of bird topography (what a bird looks like, naming its various parts) and gives a good explanation of the voice (or call/song) of each bird.
The authors even go into detail about how voice recordings lag far behind photographic identification of birds. The opening pages are not at all lengthy or boring to read through. Overall, the guide is set up in an efficient manner, addressing the relevant topics required to use the guide and follow the normal layout of a guide. The order in which the birds are placed in the book are according to genetically derived phylology (or how close in DNA the specific birds are related). This is a logical way to order, albeit a bit chaotic for the novice reader.
Much like the other Princeton Field Guides, Birds of the Middle East is set up with the left side pages containing the specific information of over 850 species and subspecies of birds found in the Middle East region. Each description or plate, as they refer to them in the guides, includes the length from bill to tail (L) and a wingspan (W) for the larger birds, snippets of relevant information, easily identifiable physical or flight characteristics, specific and detailed physical characteristics, the differences between females, males and juveniles, the bird’s habitat, their various names, the voice or specific call or song of a bird and often a relevant, short note. They have also included on the outside of the left side pages handy color-coded distribution maps of each particular bird indicating when you can expect to find the bird in that particular location. On the right side pages (adjacent pages), you can find detailed colorful illustrations of each species of bird.
The illustrations in this book are mostly adopted from the first edition but some are newly found species and thus were drawn for this second edition. The illustrators, John Gale, Mike Langman and Brian Small, have done a fantastic job with detail and life-like illustrations. Just look at these partridges:
It is as if you are almost seeing the bird itself. =) These illustrations are important to helping anyone identify the birds. The authors also include a responsible reminder to respect the conservation of birds and their nests above all else. Encouraging you to enjoy birds and all wildlife without disturbing it. The well-being of a bird is more important than some photograph or any bird checklist. Be respectful of the health and well-being of birds, love birds first by respecting them and appreciating them in a manner that reflects this fundamental attitude.
Another excellent field guide from Princeton Press.