Migrants and Migration. By Peter Holden & Mike Langman. Hamlyn, London, 1994. 48 pages; 23 colour plates; many colour illustrations. ISBN 0-600-57964-6. £6.99.  Aimed at 8-14 year olds, this book introduces the topic of migration to young ornithologists. Written by Peter Holden in a way that accurately deals with the subject whilst making it very readable, and superbly illustrated by Mike Langman, with some excellent photographs. Chapters cover every aspect of migration from its 'discovery' over 2,000 years ago, when Aristotle wrote with remarkable accuracy of the migration of Common Cranes Grus grus, through to the present-day dangers faced by migrating birds, as well as migration of other animals, migration projects and much more. Bill Oddie, in his Introduction, admits that he could have avoided making mistakes as a young birder had he had books like this one, which is hardly surprising as, by fact per page, this is one of the best-value bird books around. So, if you are outside the age range for this book, why not buy it for a youngster you know.

Birds of Australia: a summary of information. 4th edn. By J. D. MacDonald. Illustrated by P. L. Slater. Reed, Chatswood, 1993. 552 pages; 24 colour plates; over 200 line-drawings; over 300 distribution maps. ISBN 0-7301-0385-4. Paperback £25.00.This is a new edition of a book originally published in 1973. It is a hybrid between a field guide and a handbook, being far too bulky to use in the field, but not containing anything like the amount of detail present in most handbooks. 

The preface acknowledges recent DNA-DNA hybridisation studies, but states that the new phylogeny and classification that has been proposed is unlikely to be generally adopted for some considerable time. This is presumably why the sequence and taxonomy of the species are unchanged in mis new edition, but unfortunately some of the English names used are now so out of date as to be thoroughly confusing. For example, how many birdwatchers who have visited Australia (or even live there) can recognise the following birds: Pediunker, Shoemaker, Yellow-faced Cormorant, Mangrove Heron, Grass Whistleduck, Lotusbird, Large Dotterel, Bartram Sandpiper, Beach Curlew, Red-sided Parrot, Naretha Parrot, Buff-breasted Pitta, Stagemaker? These are the only English names given for these species in the book and for this reason alone I cannot recommend it to anyone birdwatching in Australia. Even as background reading before a trip, it will do M e but confuse the reader. If ever there was a strong case for the standardisation of English names, this book is it! DAVID FISHER

Volume: 
Issue 9
Start Page: 
416
Authors: 
Parnaby, D
Fieldsend, T
Holt, P
Display Image: 

Stay at the forefront of British birding by taking out a subscription to British Birds.

Subscribe Now