The Birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific: (Princeton Illustrated Checklists) is a concise, light, pocketable guide that can easily be packed in a carry-on bag when visiting one of the numerous islands the guide covers.
These include: Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, Nauru, Samoa, American Samoas, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Niue, Cook Islands, Guam, Wallis and Futuna, Pitcairn Islands, Northern Marianas, Palua, French Polynesia, and New Zealand.
While you may never visit most of these islands (we hadn’t even heard of many of them) the coverage of Hawaii and New Zealand is wonderful and alone make the book worth it. Each island (or chain of islands) is listed separately in the introduction, detailing what species are endemic to that area.
The introduction also covers habitat types, the dynamics of islands and the bird life found there.
The plates are rather crowded with the number of species included but provide a quick comparison of similar species. However, the artwork is a bit more “arty” than some guides and the author even explains his style and the criticism received. We find the drawings to be adequate enough to at least get you pointed in the right direction for identification.
What makes the guide harder to use is that the range maps are tiny and for birds that can be found in a wider area or just on a specific small island, they are almost useless. Thankfully, the maps in the introduction are much larger and detailed and provide a possible cross reference.
The text descriptions are short (given the limited space) but provide enough information to know what to look for, habitats, and the songs and calls the bird gives.
The Birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific is a good reference for a large area of islands and for world birding provides a great tool for finding endemics for specific island groups. We recommend studying the plates prior to visiting any of these islands, to not only familiarize yourself with the birds but with the layout of the field guide.
Disclaimer: we received a copy of this book for free from the publisher to review on Birdfreak.com. The links are Amazon Affiliate links.