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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 Morocco.

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 relatives.

TOWHEE.NET:  Harry Fuller, 820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, OR 97128