One only has to open this book to see the extremely high standards the publishers have set themselves. At first, I found myself not working through the book in any order, merely turning over page after page wondering where I would have to go to see the species photographed. The photographs are of amazing quality and introduce the reader (certainly this one) not only to new species but also to new families. I was stunned to see the photograph of South Africa's Blue Cranes and made a note to catch up with this species sometime in the future. Perhaps the accompanying text could have included the name of the species in bold since they act more as an additional text rather than as labels for the photographs. Rather than acting as an identification guide, HBW attempts to illustrate and describe every species currently known as well as keeping abreast of recent thoughts in taxonomy - no mean feat bearing in mind the amount of work currently being undertaken by different authorities. The last eighty or so pages are purely references which gives us some idea of the work that has gone into this book. My only reservation in recommending this book is that once you have bought one, you really feel you have to buy all of them! However, if they are all of this standard, your money is well spent and gives you an excuse for buying a sturdy new bookcase!. Richard Bashford . Tue Apr 01 23:01:00 UTC 1997 BTO News , 209 (British Trust for Ornithology).
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Material in each volume is grouped by families, with an introductory text on general aspects of the group, generously illustrated with colour photographs. This is followed by individual species accounts and their accompanying colour plates illustrating all species, including all significant sexual and subspecific differences, of all of the families covered. In addition, all volumes contain a foreword on a particular ornithological theme. Volumes average 600 pages of full-colour content and deal with 500 to 800 species, with 60-plus plates, hundreds of photographs and distribution maps, and thousands of references. So far, 11 volumes have been produced. New volumes appear at roughly annual intervals, and are collected by scientific organizations, birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts in over 150 countries.