Birds of India by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, and Tim Inskipp. Published March 7, 2012. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 528 pages.
In early 2006, Arthur and I visited Rajasthan in India for a much-too-short 20 days. We were interested in visiting both cultural sights and natural wonders, but we weren’t into birds as much as we are today. During our tour of the Rajasthan region, we visited a few nature reserves and saw some amazing birds, but in the end our list of species seen there totals a rather pathetic-by-“birding”-standards 55.
The photos below do not do justice to the beautiful printing work of this book. I have included them to give readers an idea of how the pages are laid out and a general idea of the quality of the artwork, which is very, very good. Unlike my rather drab photos, the actual pages of the book pop with their white backgrounds and detailed color images.
The Lesser Goldenback (aka Black-rumped Flameback) was one of the species we managed to see
Ever since that trip, I have longed to return, because I just love Indian culture, Indian food, Indian people. Naturally, I’d spend more time looking for birds the second time around. In the meantime, I have the fabulous new updated Birds of India to fuel my birding dreams and to help me create a wishlist / itinerary.
Bustards are on my wishlist
The guide covers the birdlife of the entire Indian Subcontinent, and is subtitled “Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.”
Besides the standard how-to-use-this-guide information at the start of the book, there is a helpful section describing subcontinent specifics such as major habitat types, climate, and conservation threats to the birds covered in the guide. A map shows the impressive number of BirdLife International Important Bird Areas of the subcontinent; there are 465 in India alone.
The bulk of the book consists, naturally, of species accounts. There are a whopping 1,375 species listed, illustrated, and described. The text accounts are accompanied by range maps on the same page, with the color plates opposite – the best layout for a guide meant to be used in the field. Identification details are listed, with vocalization and habitat/habits listed separately for each species. Details about taxonomy and alternative names are also noted separately when applicable.
Beautiful species in the Courser and Pratincole families top my wishlist, too
As do these gorgeous sunbirds
Although illustrated by nineteen different talented artists, the color plates generally fit together seamlessly. The backgrounds are uniformly white, with little foliage or other habitat information included in the illustrations.
We got to see 3 stork species
The paintings themselves are detailed and mostly very pleasing to study. I did have a little problem with the plates illustrating the swift families as well as the martin and swallow families. The images seem a little “rough” to my eye, and I wish they were a bit larger on the page to show more detail.
Appendixes list a further 80+ vagrant species (also illustrated) and 30+ doubtful species. A single handy index lists both scientific (italicized) and common species names.
Birds of India is another fine field guide from publisher Princeton Field Guides. The quality of the color plates and the amount of detailed information packed into this relatively compact field guide make this a top title for anyone interested in birds of the Indian Subcontinent and a must for any birder traveling to the region. I give Birds of India 4.5 Goldfinches out of 5.
Disclosure: This is my own original, honest review of Birds of India, a copy of which was provided to me free of charge by the publisher.