Handbuch der Vogel der Sowjetunion. Band 4. Galliformes, Gruiformes. Edited by R. L. Potapov and V. E. Flint. A. Ziemsen Verlag, Wittenberg Lutherstadt, 1989. 427 pages; 20 colour plates; 111 figures and maps. DM95.00.Volume 4 of the German translation of this major handbook, the second to be published of a proposed ten volumes covering the Soviet Union, deals with pheasants and partridges (13 species), grouse (eight), button-quails (one), cranes (seven), rails, crakes and gallinules (12), and bustards (three)--a total of 44 species in 384 pages of text, maps, figures and tables. With nearly 11 pages devoted to introductions to orders and families, this works out at an average of about 8½ pages per species: the Coot Futica atra gets most (23¼), while Yellow-legged Button-Quail Turnix tanki and the mainly-Nearctic Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis (only two nests found in the USSR, both in the nineteenth century) receive only 2½ each. The general remarks made in my review of volume 1 (see Brit. Birds 79: 269-270) apply more or less equally to volume 4. For such matters as morphology, breeding biology and social behaviour, many species are covered as well or better in BWP or, particularly, Handbuch der Vogel Mittekuropas; so in these cases the real value of this Soviet handbook lies in its information on distribution, population and movements, with arrival and departure dates, within the USSR, and in this respect the data are reasonably extensive. Generally, the maps appear to be fairly accurate (where this is possible with such a huge land-area) and thus of great use, while particulars on population densities and levels testify to the perhaps surprising amount of fieldwork that has been done in the USSR in recent decades. 

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