I was in Dallas on my way home from Kanab, Utah. I was changing planes to get back to Fort Lauderdale. I felt like hammered dog crap, I was tired, dehydrated and my laptop died on the flight from Salt Lake City. Turned out to be nothing, but it still bothered me. I had my phone with me, of course.
Now let me explain something about my phone. It is not a “Beebleberry,” (Thanks Bully!) an “iPhone” a “Droid,” or any of those fancy-schmancy phones people carry around like they’re packing a Smith and Wesson Firearm. For all practical purposes and comparatively speaking, my phone might as well be made of wood. I can text from it but I don’t like to text and each text costs me a dime which irritates me to no end. I can read my emails, but again I have a crap plan I’m locked into for a while. My phone cost me 9 bucks. Until I get done with this contract, I’m not shelling out a whole load of bucks for a fancy phone. I guess I just don’t care enough about it to be bothered. I still have a landline that I’m paranoid about giving up. I suppose if I got a decent phone, I could dump the land line and the accompanying charges, and move up a rung in the technology department. Call me old school, but it bothers me to do so. I don’t know why.
Oh wait, I guess I got off the subject. Sorry.
Anyway, while I was sitting and waiting for my flight to board, I got an email on my wooden phone. Jessica Pellien of Princeton Press emailed and asked me if I would like to receive a review copy of Forshaw’s new Field Guide of Parrots of the World.
Hell yes! I would LOVE to review the new field guide. So they sent me a copy of it. Now let me explain something about this book. It is not, I repeat, not like Forshaw’s. Parrots of the World, that big, gorgeous, honkin’ coffee table book that I think every parrot family should have. This is different.
For one thing it’s smaller, sleeker. It’s built to be taken with you should you get this sudden urge to go traipsing off to Tambopata and don’t have an extra suitcase in which to carry the regular Forshaw. While I love that book, it’s not exactly portable.
On the other hand, the Field Guide is a beautiful book that would work in the field, which is, I suppose, what it was designed for. I guess that’s why they titled it a Field Guide. They’re just so clever, those Princeton Press people!
They made some changes to its format to make it more “Field Friendly.” They made the assumption that if you’re going to an area of the world to see parrots in the wild, say Tambopata, then you’re not going to want to be tripping through a section of the book that has some Indonesian birds stuck right there between the blue and gold macaw and the Green Wing. So they made each section of the book to contain the birds from that particular geographical area. Brilliant organization and a lot easier to deal with when you’re either tramping through the jungle with a backpack the size of a Buick on your back, or floating down a river in a canoe and you want to confirm the sighting of some rare bird that just flew overhead. If you’re not in Africa, you’re not going have a reason to be thumbing through descriptions of African Greys, Jardine’s and the Senegal parrot.
When you’re using a guide like this, it’s really important to understand the layout of the book, and they do a wonderful job explaining that. This makes the entire guide more friendly to use and easier to understand. So it’s important to read how to use it at the front of the book.
It covers 356 species and it has 146 color plates and the facing page of the color plates gives you the details you would need in the field: the distribution subspecies, habitat, and their status in the wild. It has a depiction of their geographical distribution in their country, and gives you a breakdown of where to observe each species in the wild.
And there’ something else really cool about this book. One would assume you would be seeing these birds from below them if they were in the air, or possibly above them if you were standing on a cliff, so they included the depiction of the underside and upperside of the bird; a nice added detail that might help you in the field. The front gives you a list of the species depicted by area: Australasian, Afro-Asian, Neotropical, and the extinct or presumed extinct species. Not that you might be observing many of these, I suppose.
In the back of the book are two really helpful listings: An index of English names and scientific names of all the listed species. However, if you’re looking for the listing of the “African Grey” or “Congo African Grey,” you’re not going to find it. Because the index and the book describe them as the “Grey Parrot.” So there are some details you have to get used to in order to get proficient at using this book.
But all in all, it’s a very useful and extremely helpful book. The illustrations are gorgeous and it’s small enough so it will easily slip into a backpack pocket. It also won’t give you a hernia.
You can get your copy of the Princeton Field Guide of Parrots of the World here: