Working for birds in Africa

African Birds in Field and Aviary.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 14:34 -- abc_admin
A guide to a mixed collection The Avicultural Research Unit. 1997. 262 pp, 8 colour photographic plates, many line drawings and 279 distribution maps. Avicultural Research Unit, 100 Innes Road, Durban, 4025 Natal, South Africa. R114.40.
p 139

Whilst the short preface to this book announces that is has been produced to 'provide a practical guide to the wonderful hobby of birdkeeping', in practice it also provides a useful resource for field ornithologists seeking data on African birds. The text was formerly published in two separate volumes (in 1989 and 1996) but has been revised and updated for this new and more comprehensive edition. The species accounts cover 279 species within the following family groupings: Phasianidae, Turnicidae, Pteroclididae, Columbidae, Psittacidae, Ploceidae, Estrildidae, Fringillidae and Emberizidae. As a significant number of the species included here have not yet been covered by the relevant volume of The Birds of Africa, it should be automatically apparent that this volume will provide a useful compendium of published and unpublished information, as data have been extracted from both existing sources and nest record cards. For each species, the following data are supplied: 'Description' including subspecies information, 'Voice', 'Habitat', 'Distribution' which again includes information to subspecies level, 'Feeding', 'Breeding', and 'Aviculture'. Alternative English names and overall body length data are also incorporated. Particularly valuable is that data from the avicultural records are sourced to the number of available datasets for each fact. The book is completed by a series of sections designed to guide the uninitiated through the process of starting and running a successful aviary; distribution maps for all species covered in the text; references; and an index. Despite its image as being a work for non-field ornithologists and cagebird keepers, this book is, in fact, also a valuable research tool for those solely interested in wild birds.

Guy M. Kirwan

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