The Bottom Line
Both experienced European birders and birders visiting Europe can appreciate the comprehensive detail of Birds of Europe: Second Edition. Richly informative, this guide covers more than 900 bird species with both field and reference information to satisfy eager twitchers as well as studious birders.
- Covers 900+ bird species, including vagrants and introduced species.
- Bird topography inside covers is convenient for identification reference.
- Detailed descriptions include identification and other relevant information.
- Critical identification details listed alongside drawings.
- Range maps not immediately adjacent to drawings or descriptions.
- No visual page marks for bird family groups.
- Lacks any recording or sighting checklist.
- Title: Birds of Europe: Second Edition
- Author: Lars Svensson (text and maps), Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom (illustrations and captions)
- Publisher: Princeton University Press
- Publication Date: February, 2010
- Format: Paperback
- Bird Artwork: Drawings
- Dimensions: 7.5" (19.0 cm) tall, 5.25" (13.3 cm) wide, 1" (2.5 cm) thick
- Page Count: 448
- ISBN: 978-0-691-14392-7
- Price: $29.95
Guide Review - Birds of Europe: Second Edition
At first glance, Birds of Europe: Second Edition may seem overwhelming in the sheer amount of information crammed into its 448 pages. The 6-page introduction includes instructions for efficient use, including a range map key and symbol legend as well as a brief glossary. At the beginning of each bird family section, additional information relevant to that group of birds is provided for general background.
The individual bird descriptions are exceptional in this guide. The lengthy text may not be best for reading in the field because the details can distract birders from actually observing the birds, and the amount of detail may be overwhelming for beginning or casual birders. Those same details, however, are an invaluable reference for birds' key identification features, behavior, habitat preferences, plumage variations, voice and more, particularly for intermediate or advanced birders. Many descriptions also compare birds to the most familiar species to provide a known reference useful for less experienced birders. While the descriptions can seem overly long, italicized and bolded text helps draw attention to the most important points.
The illustrations of each species are delicately drawn to highlight all necessary field marks, and the most critical details are augmented with text tips and pointers. Birds are shown in typical postures, and both habitat and close up drawings are included where relevant. Dimorphic and immature plumages are often included, as are flight illustrations when needed to show additional identification characteristics.
As a paperback guide this book will eventually decay with hard use, though the stiff cover can resist minor damage. The binding may break, but pages are securely attached to resist loosening. Notched covers allow the book to be opened widely while still protecting the binding.
Positively stuffed with information, Birds of Europe: Second Edition is an excellent reference for its scope without being too large for a convenient field guide. Though frequent European birders may prefer more specialized local or regional guides, this is a good guide and reference to add to any birder's bookshelf.