The Birds of Africa

Jack Clinton-Eitniear


Publishers: Academic Press
Price: $140.25 per volume (seven
volumes are planned)
Editors: Leslie Brown, Emil Urban,
Kenneth Newman (Vol. 1). Subsequent
volumes edited by C. Hila1y Fq,
Stuart Keith and Emil Urban.
Collectors and readers of ornithological
books have undoubtedly seen a 

number of series begun but not completed.
Nothing frustrates one more
than to invest several hundred dollars
in volumes one and two of a four volume
set only to discover that the last
two volumes will not be produced.

Fortunately for those with an interest
in African birds this is not the case
with The Birds of Africa. Volume one
was published in 1982 and contained
Ostriches to Falcons. Of interest to
aviculturists are the accounts of penguins,
storks, flamingoes and waterfowl.
Number two in this series was
available in 1986 and covered Gamebirds
to Pigeons. Number three, published
in 1988, was devoted to Parrots
to Woodpeckers and finally volume
three in 1992 tackled the first 312 of
the roughly 1,200 passerine species
on the continent and outlying islands.
While it has been ten years since the
first volume was available, it appears
that with only three volumes remaining
a series will actually be produced
that provides all the volumes necessaq
to complete its topical area!
As with most comprehensive, hardbound
books, this series is an investment
of significant mag nitude. To
obtain the first four volumes will "set
you back" approximately $600.00.

Another attribute of the "series" concept
is that of constant price increases.
This set has already spanned a decade
so it seems reasonable that later volumes
are increased by $20.00. Given
the cost and difficulty of securing
many African species for captive
breeding, the purchase would justify
itself if it contributed, even in a small
way, to your successfully breeding or
maintaining one pair of birds. Nevertheless,
I have noted numerous single
volumes on the shelves of aviculturists.
Undoubtedly they purchased only
those volumes that contained species
they were interested in. While I
encourage you to consider purchasing
the series (one never knows, you may
change your interest and experience
difficulty obtaining new volumes) I
have included a listing of the contents
of each volume.
The overall approach to species presentation
is rather straight forward.
Each species is discussed in terms of
its range and status followed by a
detailed description of the bird including
immature and young, field characters,
voice, general behavior, food and
breeding biology. Reference is made
to the various color plates that illustrate
each species.
While books do exist that deal with
the birds of north, east and south
Africa, this series also includes west
Africa. Given that a number of finches
are exported from west Africa, lack of
a good handbook has contributed to
our inability to breed these species.
Unfortunately, the three remaining
volumes will cover the remaining 888
passerines of Africa including the
Volume 1 Contents
Order Struthioniformes, Procellariiformes,
Sphenisciformes, Pellecaniformes,
Ciconiiformes, Phoenicopteriformes,
Anseriformes, Falconiformes.
Volume 2 Contents
Order Galliformes, Gmiformes, Pterocliformes,
Volume 3 Contents
Order Psittaciformes, Musophagiformes,
Cuculiformes, Strigiformes,
Camprimulgiformes, Apodiformes,
Coraciiformes, Piciformes.
Volume 4 Contents
Order Passeriformes including the
following families: Broadbills, Pittas,
Larks, Swallows and Martins, Wagtails,
Cuckoo-shrikes, Bulbuls, Waxwings,
Dippers, Wrens, Accentors,
Thmshes (to chats).

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