EURO BIRD GUIDE REVIEW, April 2010
BIRDS OF EUROPE, Second Edition 448 pages.
Text and maps by Lars Svensson
Illustrations and captions by Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom
Princetion University Press. $29.95 US.
I lived in London for four years and birded in a dozen European
countries. This revised field guide is a new version of the dog-eared,
stained, much-used, beloved field guide that I took into the marshes of
Estonia and across the dry hills of Lesvos. It is the best of breed if
you’re birding Europe or northern Africa. I used this book on a trip to
This field guide does for Europe what Peterson and National Geographic
and other top field guides do for North America. Shows the variety of
plumage of complex species like Common Buzzard. Aren’t buteos often the
most variable? Has clear Range maps on the page facing the species
illustrations. It’s organized largely in taxonomic order. The authors
of this book do not openly recognize the known genetic link between
dippers and wrens. Having only one species in each family, the two
birds are widely separated in this guide.
For a serious lister this edition has many updates. New names are
reflected, for example, the former Mediterranean Shearwater is now
Yelkouan Shearwater. Bearded Tit is now known as Bearded Reedling as it
has no close tie to the tits (chickadees, to us Yanks). The Herring
Gull complex is now split into two species, Eurasian and American. It
also affords a a great chance to play “guess the name game.” What
Americans call Black-bellied Plover is still known as Grey Plover on the
other side of the pond. And English bird names do not include “murre” or “jaeger.” Instead they have various skua and guillemot species.
The book has a fine section on commonly encountered hybrids among the
diving ducks. And it uses throughout the illustrations the tried-and-true method of lines and simple captions to call out the crucial
differentiating field marks.
If you are birding in Europe, or simply want to dream about it, this is
your best choice for field guide. Even sitting in an airport Waiting
for your flight, you can ponder the beauties of the Blue Rock Thrush,
the sharp appearance of the little Woodchat Shrike or imagine the
evolutionary past of the unique Hoopoe which has no known near