A Bird-Nerd Must-Have Revisited

Reviewed by Aviva

The year 2010 brought exciting news for European birdwatchers, almost more exciting than the sighting of a Baltimore Oriole in Alkmaar: the release of the long-awaited 2nd edition of the classic Collins Bird Guide (Available in hardcover and paperback.)

Since its publication in 1999, the first edition of this beautifully illustrated, compact and comprehensive field guide to the birds of Britain and Europe has been translated into 13 languages and has sold more than 700,000 copies worldwide. The new edition has been expanded and updated to reflect not only changes in taxonomy but also new knowledge about species distribution.

There are many many field guides out there so you may be wondering what makes this one so special? What makes it a classic and why is it the book that most serious birders in Europe rely on, bringing their battered copies with them into the field, and poring over them at home? It’s certainly not the most compact guide, nor the cheapest. But what the authors provide within the sturdy 400 plus pages is the most complete, most detailed, and yet most easily navigated guide to all the avian species you might come across in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, including introduced species and vagrants. The identification information, distribution maps, and gorgeous illustrations give even the beginning birder the essential details needed to help identify easily confused species, and the plates are an absolute treat to look at.

When looking for a bird guide it’s easy to be tempted into buying a thinner volume or one illustrated with photographs. And there’s nothing wrong with having one of these in your pocket as well. But in the end, you’ll find yourself coming back to this cream-of-the-crop book for its comprehensive descriptions, detailed accuracy, and its simple beauty.