With birding such a big pastime in southern Africa, there is a well established birding literature available. Not only are there great field and sound guides but also many second-level publications dealing with birds from particular species groups.
The major field guides for most of the southern Africa region are the SASOL and Newman's guides and various photographic guides with some specific ones for different countries. The SASOL guide is excellent - its illustrations are fantastic and the text succinct yet authoritative.
The Southern African Birdfinder: Where to find 1,400 bird species in southern Africa must rank as one of the best 'Where to' guides for a region. It contains detailed information on sites, clear maps and directions and great photos. With a very slick layout this book is an essential addition to any trip in southern Africa. Highly recommended.
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.
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4th edition. The best field guide to the region with over 200 colour plates and numerous distribution maps. The Southern African region is Botwana, Lesotho, southern Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
This fourth edition has been greatly improved by the addition of group introductions, calendar bars showing species' occurrence and breeding periods, a section on 'how to use this book', as well as sonograms depicting the calls of tricky bird groups. The newly designed plates are meticulously illustrated, with labels pinpointing key differentiating features. Distribution maps show the relative abundance of a species in the region and also indicate resident or migrant status.
Written by top birders, this authoritative and comprehensive identification guide is invaluable to all birders. 464 pages.
Sadly, Ken Newman passed away in 2006. This commemorative edition of his book has been revised by Vanessa Newman, Ken's daugter and incorporates the latest taxonomic changes. 510 pages.
At last! a field guide version of Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VIIth Edition featuring large, clear illustrations, distribution maps as well as a "breeding bar" indicating breeding season. Covers over 950 species including all the recent splits. 456 pages.
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.
Covers 500 species in a user-friendly format and includes distribution maps and an 'occurrence bar'. 144 pages.
Comprising the most comprehensive collection of photos of southern African birds in one volume, this field guide describes and illustrates all 958 bird species found in the region plus an additional 17 species from Antarctica, the Southern Ocean & associated islands. 432 pages.
2002. Includes over 200 birding sites in Southern Africa, as well as many game and nature reserves, towns, and routes. Each site description gives details of habitat type and the birds it attracts. Includes in-depth profiles on 8 of the region's major sites.
2006. The ideal companion to all the local bird field guides. After an introduction to birding in the southern African region, the authors identify and describe more than 330 birding sites and associated birds across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and, the little-documented but increasingly popular, areas of Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. All sites are ranked into one of three categories of priority: essential (the regions best); excellent (top sites but expendable to a time-limited visitor) and local interest (ideal for those looking for new areas to explore). All sites include practical details of access, best times to visit, habitat diversity and general natural history.
Includes a fold-out map of the entire region that features all routes. A quick guide to finding the region's top 100 birds and an annotated checklist conclude the book.
"Written by three of the most experienced birders in the region, they have poured their experience into its production and this really shows in the level of detail and coverage." - Martin Fowlie, BTO