The Handbook of Bird Identification: For Europe and the Western Palearctic
by Mark Beaman, Steve Madge
Illustrated by Hilary Burn, Martin Elliott, Alan Harris, Peter Hayman, Laurel Tucker and Dan Zetterstrom
Publisher: Christopher Helm Publishers, an imprint of A&C Black Publishers
Edition: Digital editions published 2010
Birdwatching, or Birding, is one of the most popular activities and pastimes in Europe and so it follows that it is essential to be able to identify the birds on view, be it in the back garden or for making more serious in-depth studies.
This book aims to bring together as much information as possible in one volume, using extremely detailed, up-to-date guides and identification of every species known to have occurred in Europe and the West Palearctic, that is, the whole of Europe, North Africa as far south as the Central Sahara, the Middle East to the border of Iran, the Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, the islands off Mauritania and the Cape Verde islands, as defined by Cramp and Simons 1977.
They have certainly been successful in doing so and have produced a wonderfully comprehensive guide covering nearly 900 species, showing a wide range of differing plumages. The colour plates are exquisite and have been painted by some of Europe's leading bird artists. The text is clear and can be followed by beginners but finer points of identification are included for the benefit of more serious bird watchers. Particularly helpful is the cross-referencing of the text and colour plates. There are more than 600 colour maps to identify where the birds are to be found, which are simple and easy to use with excellent descriptions of status and habitat.
Authors Beaman and Madge are both extremely well known in their field and are widely revered. Mark Beaman is the pioneer of modern professional bird tours in Europe, having travelled more extensively in the Palearctic region than any other ornithologist. He has made many important written contributions on the subject of bird identification. Steve Madge has also written a number of articles on bird identification and is the author of other bird books in the Helm series, receiving the Best Bird Book of the Year Award in 1988 for Crows and Jays. He too is a partner in a bird tour company.