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BOOK: The Birds of Africa. Vol 7

2012-09-03 (262)

Fry CH, Keith S (eds). 2004. The Birds of Africa. Vol 7: Sparrows to Buntings. Christopher Helm, London

Summary (from nhbs). "The final volume in the magnificent Birds of Africa series, which first appeared 21 years ago. Volume 7 treats the remainder of the passerine families of Africa and its various offshore islands, covering the sparrows, weavers, whydahs, waxbills, finches and buntings. The book boasts an exhaustively researched and referenced text, distilling all available data on the identification, ecology, distribution, behaviour and status of the species covered. Martin Woodcock's stunning colour plates are complemented by a wealth of superb line drawings by Ian Willis which illustrate details of Africa's birdlife such as weaver nest structure and Ploceidae display postures."

This volume covers 309 species of sparrows, weavers, whydahs, waxbills, finches and buntings. The coverage of each species is comprehensive, with the following sections: Range and status, Description, Field characters, Voice, General habits, Food and Breeding habits.

This text provides the most comprehensive detail of individual weaver species, with texts ranging from a page for poorly known species to six pages for the Village Weaver. The amount of detail in these is considerably more than is available in HBW: Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 15, but for the Asian and Indian Ocean island species refer to species text is HBW.

The distribution maps are detailed and much effort and attention was put in by the editors to obtain maps as accurately as possible. For southern Africa SABAP1maps were used.

The paintings by Martin Woodcock are excellent, covering every species and several distinctive subspecies where releavant. I prefer the artwork in this volume over HBW but the latter does often show more pluamges (see details here). In the text there are many attractive line drawings, mostly by Ian Willis, showing adults, nests or both.

A second-hand copy is essential for anyone interested in weavers!

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