Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies (Helm Field Guides) 216pp
[not yet] ****
Update Jan 2012: I have now got hold of a copy of this book (£12 0n Amazon). I reckon it lives up to the publisher’s blurb (see below). My edition is 2003, updated from the 1998 original. The drawings are excellent, as is the general layout and the index. There’s a useful introduction covering taxonomy, identification, conservation and endangerment (with a helpful species list). It’s a small, light, book that would fit in a large pocket, or take up very little room in a day bag. It probably doesn’t have enough detail for the serious birder, but for everyday use, if you choose this as your guide I think it would serve you well.
[This is not a book I have looked at, other than online. However, it sounds quite a worthwhile prospect, with good reviews. I borrow, if I may without being sued too enthusiatically, what is freely available to view on a*a*o* (aka *m*z*n)]
“The guide covers all species occurring in the West Indies. It has colour plates and concise text covering all aspects of field identification… aimed at experienced birders and interested laypersons alike, this guide is a lightweight and easy-to-use field guide to the spectacular West Indian avifauna.”
“This guide is beautifully illustrated with clear drawings and distribution maps. It is portable, robustly bound and is well printed. Part of a series of well illustrated and comprehensive guides, this one is well up to the standard of the series. There are no better guides.”
I have just got hold of a small bird book that seems to cover the basics pretty well. I got a (very) cheap and cheerful copy from ABE (see above) to check it out (too cheap, in fact: condition not ‘good’ at all, but ‘v tatty’)
A Photographic Guide to Birds of the West Indies
Compact pocket guide with 135 pages of photos and brief descriptions. Bird groups listed under helpful coloured-coded corner tabs (‘Vireos’; ‘Gulls’ etc). Photos clear and look very good for ID by the puzzled amateur. It covers the whole West Indies, so includes birds not found in the Bahamas as well as omitting some that are. Overall I’d say this is a very useful little guide for ID of the mainstream birds you are likely to encounter at Delphi. It would do very well as a book to take out and about with you for those “what on earth is that?” moments. Earns its 4 stars. I will definitely take this (or a better copy!) on our next visit…
2012 addition …which I have done this year. Result? I’ve knocked off a star. Still useful, still very portable, but not Bahamas-specific enough to be indispensable in the field. Stick with Hallett and you won’t go wrong
BASIC BOOKS, INCLUDING THE EXCELLENT HALLETT GUIDE
Birds of the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos Islands
rh rating: the coveted and sparingly-awarded *****
INDISPENSIBLE for the uninitiated (me). Probably the best all-round book for basic bird ID. Good photos, very helpful descriptions, easily portable. If you know little of nothing about birds, this book is completely unintimidating. Even if you know quite a lot, it won’t feel like a “Dummies’ Guide”. This is the book to have with you when you are out and about.There are 3 copies in the Library. You are welcome to take the one with the initials KS on the flyleaf on a day trip.
Birds of the West Indies (Collins Field Guide)
rh rating ***
Locus Classicus, first published in 1960, with several subsequent editions. Colour illustrations and line drawings. I enjoy word ‘nidification’ for nesting. 1 copy in the library (5th Ed). However, see next entry. (Reputedly Ian Fleming chose the name for 007 having seen this book out on a table).
2012 addition see now a Bond / Fleming post, with a full history of this book JAMES BOND – ORNITHOLOGIST
Birds of the West Indies (Collins Field Guide)
First published 2010, and supersedes ‘James Bond’. As far as I can see, a superior book in every way. Full and clear colour illustrations of all birds by the author. 60 pages of species distribution maps.
Not (yet) Copy now (2012) in the library. I’m afraid the author’s name is unlikely to inspire a rival to 007 – “The name’s Arlott. Norman Arlott” doesn’t quite do it
STOP PRESS Jan 2012: Norman Arlott has another excellent book covering North America & Greenland. For an illustrated positive review by AVIAN101 CLICK LOGO===>;>;>;
The Birds of New Providence and the Bahama Islands (1975)
rh rating **.5
Thinner, lighter, somewhat dated-seeming now (in a charming way). Selectively illustrated with colour and B & W illustrations. Includes useful appendices on Accidentals and what common songbirds sing in which month. Not the first one for your shopping list. 1 copy in the Library.
SUMMARY: If I had to pick one book, as a rank amateur, it would definitely be Hallett. My second would be Arlott. These books can be bought on Amazon and eBay (not all are always available) but you might do well to check out ABE first, where cheap copies can often be found: http://www.abebooks.co.uk