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Parrots of the World

Parrots of the World

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Parrots of the World

Parrots of the World


The Bottom Line

Parrots are colorful, charming birds beloved by birders and non-birders alike, and Parrots of the World by Joseph M. Forshaw does an admirable job of highlighting more than 350 species and subspecies of parrots in stunning color and detail. Complete with range maps, text notes and even descriptions and illustrations of extinct species, this field guide is a beautiful addition to every birder’s library.


  • Colorful illustrations are beautifully detailed and show multiple views of each bird for effective identification.
  • Extensive coverage of subspecies, including in range maps, highlights the diversity of the world’s parrots.
  • Geographical species organization enhances usefulness in the field.


  • Text descriptions lack bold or italics to highly key information but still provide useful details for proper identification.
  • Lacks reference to multiple common names which could be useful considering these birds’ popularity as pet birds.


  • Title: Parrots of the World (Princeton Field Guides)
  • Author: Joseph M. Forshaw (Illustrated by Frank Knight)
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication Date: September 2010
  • Format: Softcover (Kindle edition also available but quality may differ)
  • Bird Artwork: Illustrations
  • Dimensions: 9.1" (23.1 cm) tall, 6" (15.2 cm) wide, .8" (2.0 cm) thick
  • Page Count: 328
  • ISBN: 978-0-691-14285-2
  • Price: $29.95

Review - Parrots of the World

Parrots are beautiful birds, but unfortunately, many of the most familiar parrots also look very similar. That’s where Parrots of the World by Joseph M. Forshaw comes in: this worldwide field guide has detailed, colorful illustrations for 356 species and subspecies of parrots and is a truly comprehensive volume for all parrot lovers.

The guide’s 16-page introduction includes an overview of how to most effectively use the book as well as a map of the geographic regions covered and how they are divided. The four parts of a bird diagrams (all appropriately parrots) on page 12 can familiarize readers with these birds’ anatomy and how it is presented in the species accounts. The series of flight silhouettes on page 16 can also be very useful for helping identify parrots in flight based on wing and tail shapes as well as overall size. Additional information presented in the introduction includes a discussion of why parrots are unique, typical parrot habitats and behaviors, as well as conservation information – details that are especially critical considering one-third of the world’s parrots are either threatened or endangered.

The illustrations of this field guide are simply stunning. Parrots are naturally colorful and attractive birds, and illustrator Frank Knight has captured their beauty in clear, crisp detail. Each bird is shown in a typical perched pose, and partial illustrations show both above and below the wings so field marks and colors can be clearly seen, critical information since these birds will so often be seen in flight. Additional head and tail detailed illustrations are included for a number of species where that view is significant, and both genders of dimorphic birds are pictured. Similar birds are grouped on the same page whenever possible for easy comparison. The illustrations do lack pointers for key field marks, but the clarity of the drawings makes those marks easy to see even without guidance.

The text that accompanies each species is concise and features a good amount of information relevant to proper identification. While each account does not include every detail, typical information in the text includes:

  • Key field marks
  • Habitat preferences
  • Overall distribution
  • Voice and song descriptions
  • Flight pattern
  • Conservation status

Range maps for each species are color-coded to include subspecies, an ideal detail for serious parrot enthusiasts. Maps are positioned on the outer margins for easy visibility, and are generally larger than the thumbnail maps used in many field guides, making them easier to read.

A particularly unique feature of this field guide is its inclusion of a number of parrots that no birder now will ever see – 10 extinct species (in a separate section so as not to cause confusion). The illustrations for each are just as colorful as for other species, and the text information, while brief, includes former distribution notes and when the bird was last believed recorded.

With so many parrot species in the world, this guide’s organization could have been cumbersome for field use, but rather than grouping species solely by scientific relationships, the primary organization is geographic. Three distinct regions are covered – Afro-Asian, Australasian and Neotropical – and the pages are color-coded by those regions for easy reference. For further ease of use, two indices are included: one for parrots’ Latin scientific names and the other for their common names.

Colorful, well-organized and amazingly detailed, Parrots of the World is a grand book for any birder to browse, whether they are interested in their local parrots, exotic species or just birds they hope to add to their life list one day.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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