Howards & MooreEdited by E. C. Dickinson and L. Christidis Aves Press, 2014; hbk, 752pp; and CD ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2 £80.00 This is the second volume of the 4th edition of the 'Howard and Moore' Checklist. The first volume was reviewed previously (Brit. Birds 107: 179-180) and the comments made there also apply here. The editors have, in this volume, reaffirmed their commitment to the academic and professional community, producing an accurate and authoritative reference work. A total of 6,063 species of passerine, with all their subspecies, are detailed in the same format as the 4,072 non-passerines in the previous volume. The species list obviously occupies the bulk of the book. The passerine families are presented in an extensively revised, unfamiliar sequence, compared with the 3rd edition (2003), and an extensive introductory chapter by Joel Cracraft reviews the new, primarily molecular, studies that underlie this new sequence. In contrast to the species-level taxonomy of 'Howard and Moore', which is often noted to be rather conservative, the Checklist is very self-confident when it comes to generic and higher-order changes. From a Western Palearctic viewpoint, it will remain to be seen whether it is helpful or informative to break up such familiar large genera as Phylloscopus, Sylvia and Emberiza into multiple new (or resurrected) genera when such changes are not absolutely required to maintain monophyly. There are nine appendices either in print or on the enclosed CD. Some of them are straight reprints from Volume 1, which seems a little unnecessary. Notable new additions include a treatment of extinct species by Tommy Tyrberg (in consultation with BirdLife International), their omission was a weakness of Volume 1, and a version of the Checklist as an Excel file. Comparisons will be drawn with other World Checklists, perhaps most topically the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World (del Hoyo & Collar 2014) whose non-passerine volume was published recently. 'Howard and Moore' lacks the range maps and colour illustrations contained in 'HBW', but both are astonishingly thorough and professional reference works. 'HBW' has the higher standard of presentation, with an accompanying higher price, and is arguably more accessible for birders. 'Howard and Moore' on the other hand remains the go-to guide on matters of nomenclature and authority. Martin Collinson
Issue 3

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

Subscribe Now