Collins Illustrated Checklist: birds of Eastern Africa. By Ber van Perlo. HarperCollins, London, 1995. 301 pages; 96 colour plates; 1488 distribution maps, ISBN 0-00219937-8. £14.99. Ber van Perlo is to be congratulated on this brilliant guide. There are colour illustrations of all 1,487 species recorded in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Socotra Island up to 1993. Females and juveniles are often illustrated, as well as males. For every species, there is a distribution map which also shows status, and there are several lines of text on salient distinguishing features, habitat and vocalisations. Illustrations of closely related species are arranged one below the other. Inevitably, with so many species depicted, the illustrations are rather cramped, with 19 or 20, occasionally up to 25, on a plate. The text and maps are likewise cramped (older birdwatchers will need their reading glasses). Two bonus points are that the text for each species is opposite its illustration and that sensible numbering of the maps enables quick and easy referencing. This handy-sized guide fills a much-needed gap. It must be an essential item in the pocket of every birdwatcher bound for eastern Africa. My only regrets are that this guide was not available when I lived in Ethiopia in the 1970s and that I have not yet had the opportunity to test it in the field. Will separation of Cisticola species now be possible, using this book?

Issue 9
Start Page: 
Tyler, S. J
Redman, N
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