Article in: Book Reviews
October 11, 2012
The Birds of Melanesia: Bismarcks, Solomons, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia (Princeton Field Guides) covers a region of the world I am entirely unfamiliar with but is full of islands: meaning full of endemic birds!
The islands that make up Melanesia (a region in the southwest Pacific, east of New Guinea) include: Bismarcks (New Britain, New Ireland), Solomons (Bougainville, Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal, Malaita, Makira), Vanuatu, and New Caledonia (Grande Terre).
There are some 204 endemic species to the island group, making it desirable for birders seeking rare and hard-to-find (or at least get to) birds.
The guide describes the top birding locations as well as habitat, climate, and conservation.
The checklist of birds requires a bit of studying as it is color-coded not only by island group but by status code in a complex table that can be used to determine what birds you are likely to find and where.
The plates include full color illustrations of the birds on one side with descriptive and geographical information on the opposing page. The same color-coding/regional references as the checklist are used here as well.
The plates are also grouped by island region where possible to further nail down what birds are where.
Once you make your way through the 86 plates of birds, the rest of the field guide covers the species in greater textual detail.
Overall, 501 species of birds are covered in a region that would be fascinating to go birding. You may even find a Rennell Shrikebill or a New Caledonian Friarbird!
Disclaimer: We received a copy of the this book from the publisher to review. The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.