Review: Every Bird in the World - In Your Hands

Review by John Wattai

by JAMIE HALE • November 19, 2021

Book Reviews

The Complete Birds of the World: Every Species Illustrated

The Complete Birds of the World: Every Species Illustrated

All the Birds of the World

All the Birds of the World

From our guest reviewer, John Wattai:

The second one-volume compendium of all the world’s birds published in 2021. In my opinion, this one wins hands-down! Yes, the Lynx All the Birds of the World includes more species & loads of subspecies, but the plates are utilitarian & not exciting. Incorporating distribution maps just clutters the layout.They were laid-out by a graphics person; this book has plates designed by an artist & it shows. These images are richer & far more visually arresting than the Lynx. No distribution maps, but of what use are they in a book like this? You’ll never be toting this in the field! Books like this is aren’t meant to be read, but, rather, looked at! On that score this book is a clear winner. Are there problems? Yes, the most glaring being co-principal illustrator, van Perlo. His rough, sketch-like figures really fall apart when enlarged to quarto size & in close proximity to the more refined work of Mr. Arlott. Also, the binding seems more fragile than the Lynx (perhaps because they have a long history of publishing big, heavy books!).  Despite van Perlo, a very beautiful book. The parade of so many species speaks eloquently to the wonders of evolution! Should be in any bird book collector’s (or birder’s) library.

One last thing about those two Birds of the World books. Despite their claims as being the first illustrated one-volume publications of all the birds of the world, they are both wrong! A British birder named Tim Westoll took it upon himself to produce a Complete Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World  in 1998. And he painted all 367 plates by himself! An amazing feat, despite the art being very amateurish!

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