Friday, June 06, 2014

Book Review: Phillipp's Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo - Third Edition

The latest edition is arguably the most comprehensive field guide one can find for the birds of the island of Borneo. The third edition published in 2014 not only updated the taxonomy which added nine more species (mostly from splits) to the list, but also replaced 15 illustration plates. In addition, another 16 plates have been upgraded with additional or replacement drawings.

The very first pages are like an an overview - showing illustrations of the common birds of Borneo in their respective habitats, be it seashore, lowland forest, the Mt. Kinabalu area, and many more. The next pages deal with the evolution of Bornean birds, conservation efforts, the anatomy and plumage of a bird (for identification purposes), a key to distribution maps, a list of endemics, vegetation, climate and migration routes.

The 141 plates covering all 673 species of Bornean birds then follows showing the illustrations of male, female and immature and even between subspecies (if there are differences). The size, name (English, Scientific and Malay), habitat, description, calls and distribution are given in great detail.

Finally, the best birding sites in Sabah, Brunei, Sarawak and Kalimantan are listed.

My wife and I have birded in Sabah twice and this book (despite getting it only early this year) had been a tremendous help in confirming (and in some cases correcting) the ID of the birds we have photographed in those two trips that we made.

We plan to return to Borneo and perhaps try the sites recommended in this field guide that we have not visited yet. We know that this book would be invaluable in making such trips even more successful.

Needless to say, this book is highly recommended.

The Field Guide is available at Princeton University Press and at

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