The Complete Birds of the World: Every Species Illustrated

Princeton Univ. Sept. 2021. 640p. ISBN 9780691193922. $65. REF
This work features color paintings of more than 10,700 species of bird (covering every bird species on the International Ornithological Committee’s list) by illustrators Arlott (Birds of North America and Greenland) and van Perlo (Birds of South America: Passerines), with additional illustrations by Gustavo Carrizo, Aldo A. Chiappe, Luis Huber, and Jorge R. Rodriguez Mata. It is a pioneering work, with 301 crowded color plates in large format. With up to 43 species per plate and images selected from 17 previous bird guides (most of them published by Collins), it is an extraordinary reference work, enhanced by brief notes on bird identification, vocalizations, habitats, and distribution. Paintings show plumage variation by sex but not immatures or seasonal differences. Most are good depictions but some are poor; red tones are often too bright. The volume’s single map is useless (it labels continents and oceans but not countries), but otherwise this fine book is very easy to use.
VERDICT In spite of its many virtues, this volume is liable to be thoroughly eclipsed by Joseph del Hoyo’s All the Birds of the World, which depicts 11,524 species, based on all four major world lists; is 311 pages longer; and boasts superior art and more maps (well worth the higher price, about $100). Still, Arlott and van Perlo’s work is a strong addition for larger collections.
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