Parrots of the World by Joseph M. Forshaw, illustrated by Frank Knight. Published 2010. Softcover, 328 pages.
Wildly colorful, intelligent, popular, beautiful. These words are often used to describe birds belonging to the parrot family: Psittaciformes. This lovely book illustrates and describes all 356 species.
Parrots of the World presents this widespread family of birds in field guide format; indeed, in the preface the author writes that the book is designed primarily for field use. The species are arranged geographically using three major regions: Afro-Asian; Australasian; and Neotropical.
The color illustrations are crisp and clear as aids to identification. For the most part, the birds are presented on a plain white background, which is a bit boring. They are shown perched naturally on branches. In addition to the standard perched pose, many birds are shown in flight, with both upper- and underparts illustrated. This is done stylishly, with the body of the bird shown with one upper wing and a separate image of the bird’s body and under wing. Each color plate presents one to four species.
Some plates seem a bit too busy, showing too many birds together, or having overlapping illustrations. Other plates leave so much white space that it seems that some images may be missing – or that someone forgot to enlarge the images that are there. About a third of the plates have the bird illustrations arranged “just right” to me. This inconsistency isn’t really a problem; it’s just something I noticed.
The descriptive texts accompany the color plates, which is a big plus. The description for each species is concise and clear, with clearly marked blocks of information. Parrots of similar appearance are mentioned when appropriate, with key identification tips to help distinguish them. Distribution, sub-species (when indicated), and conservation status are also noted for each species. Range maps appear by the descriptions, and they are large and clear.
There is an index of scientific names and a separate index of English names. The English index lists the birds twice, under the family name and again using the entire name. So, for example, the Black Lory appears under B and again under Lory, Black. I really, really like this handy feature.
It’s wonderful to have one guide book that has all of the world’s parrots in it, and the fine illustrations, informative texts and clear range maps make this book a great addition to any birder’s library. I give Parrots of the World 4 Goldfinches out of 5.
Disclosure: This is my own original, honest review of Parrots of the World, a copy of which was provided to me free of charge by the publisher.