Working for birds in Africa

Books & Sounds

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 13:31 -- abc_admin

The Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Stevenson and Fanshawe is extremely useful for this part of Africa and covers Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The first edition was published in 2002 and a second edition is due later in 2012.

In addition, the Zimmerman et al is very good but only covers Kenya and those additional species which are also found in northern Tanzania. However, make sure to choose carefully between the hardback and more portable (and revised) paperback version. The hardback version is not one to carry in the field but the softcover does lack some detail!

Birds of Africa south of the Sahara also covers all the species found in the East Africa region.

You can purchase these and other books from WildSounds, one of the largest specialist UK mail-order companies, via our book and media sales page. Many birdwatchers are not only interested in birds, so we have added the most useful books for other taxa on this page.

*** Wildsounds donates 5% of each order generated via these links to the ABC Conservation Fund. Please order here, get a good price and support ABC! ***

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Field Guide to Birds of East Africa, Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe, Poyser, Softback.
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Helm Field Guide covering Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The first complete guide to this region. 3400 images of 1388 species illustrated on 287 superb new colour plates by Brian Small, John Gale and Norman Arlott. The text plus distribution map and the illustrations for each species are on facing pages. 632 pages.

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Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, Zimmerman, Turner & Pearson, A&C Black, Softback.
Book description: 

Designed specifically for use in the field, this is a portable version of the highly-acclaimed Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. This updated edition covers 6 additional species.

"Birders visiting Kenya have been waiting a long time for a really good identification guide to the rich avifauna of this incomparable country. They need wait no longer. This magnificent book is everything one could wish for." - British Birds.

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Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
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Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.

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Photographic Guide to Birds of East Africa, Dave Richards, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Field identification guide, with the text highlighting the diagnostic features for each species. For those species that are sexually dimorphic, have both breeding and non-breeding plumages, or in which the juvenile plumage differs markedly from that of the adult, more than one photograph has been included. A thumbnail silhouette and a distribution map are given for each species. 144 pages.

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Important Bird Areas in Kenya, Leon Bennun & Peter Njoroge, RSPB & NatureKenya, Softback.
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This book is a contribution to identifying Kenya's biodiversity conservation priorities. It describes in detail 60 sites in Kenya that meet the criteria for the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) - places of global significance for bird and biodiversity conservation.

Important Bird Areas in Kenya will interest environmental planners, policy makers, wildlife managers, students and researchers. It will also be an essential source of information for birdwatchers wanting to locate Kenya's special birds. 318 pages.

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Bird Song of Kenya & Tanzania, J Hammick, Mandarin Prodns., CD.
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Vocalisations of 99 common species, each indexed but not announced.

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Nicholas Drayson’s novel “A Guide to the Birds of East Africa”
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A book review by Caroline Caddick

Nicholas Drayson’s novel “A Guide to the Birds of East Africa” is a delightful book about the admiration of Mr. Malik – a balding widower with combed-over hair – for Rose Mbikwa, a Scottish widow and leader of a weekly bird walk in Nairobi, and the events following the arrival of Harry Khan, Mr. Malik’s erstwhile school fellow, on the scene. Harry Khan is as loud and extrovert as Mr. Malik is retiring, and when at school had teased the latter mercilessly.

Events come to a head as the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball approaches. Mr. Malik has bought two tickets and intends to invite Rose. But Harry Khan also wants to invite her to the Ball. Members of the Asadi Club, attended by both contenders, suggest that the matter be decided by a bird-spotting competition. The one who sees the most species in a week will be free to ask Rose to the Ball. Thus begins the story of two alternative approaches to finding different bird species in Nairobi and the surrounding area.

Nicholas Drayson’s affectionate treatment of people and place reminds us of Alexander McCall Smith’s books about Mma Ramotswe as it shows Nairobi and its diversity of inhabitants and districts and tells of the adventures of our two protagonists. The birding and the outcome of the competition are relevant only to Mr. Malik and Harry Khan. It is the setting of the scene and clear but gentle depiction of the characters which are the most important features of this charming book.

It should be stressed that in spite of its slightly misleading title, Mr. Drayson’s book has nothing whatsoever to do with the “Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa” by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe.

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