Recommended Bird Field Guides for the 7 Continents
Field Guides to Australasia and Oceania: what to take into the field
Birds of New Guinea (Pratt et al.). Hooray, the second edition is now out and is AMAZING! Please buy it, whether or not you’re planning a trip to West Papua or PNG. It’s a must-have book that beautifully illustrates all the Birds of Paradise, Paradise Kingfishers, Jewel-babblers and more – these are the most spectacular birds on Planet Earth, so I suggest you buy this book even if you don’t plan on traveling to this large island. If you’re planning to bird ” Attenborough’s Paradise”, this is of course a completely essential book. And, it’s a high quality field guide, with maps on the same page as the plates, excellent, informative text, good artwork – and everything one hopes for in a field guide. Here are sample plates from the book:
Plate1_Birds of New Guinea: Second edition. https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10341.html
Plate2_Birds of New Guinea: Second edition. https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10341.html
The Australian Bird Guide (Menkhorst et al) Hot off the press (2017) and in our opinion the best field guide to the birds of Australia. It includes multiple excellent illustrations for each species, depicting the different ages, sexes and breeding plumages, while the distribution maps are accurate and clear. This book has set a new standard for Australian field guides and is highly recommended.
Birds of Australia (Simpson and Day). This is the eighth edition of the seminal Australian bird book. Good plates and artwork, range maps, and species account.
Birds of Australia. (Pizzey and Knight). This is the ninth edition of another fantastic guide. The plates and illustrations are excellent, and the maps and information are good.
The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand (Heather and Robertson) Very good illustrations and text, with maps including Chatham Island.
Collins Field Guide to Birds of New Zealnd, Hawaii, Central and West Pacific (van Perlo) A useful guide in that it covers a huge area and over 750 species. It is small and light and thus easy to carry around, however, information on each species is seriously lacking (many birds only having two lines of text), and due to its small size some of the illustrations and maps are not the easiest to use.
The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific (Pratt et al.). Although this is an older guide, it very adequately covers Hawaii, Eastern Polynesia, Central Polynesia, Fiji and Tonga, and Micronesia. The plates by Pratt are very good. There are no range maps, but there is good information on all the species in the book. The plates are at the back.
Birds of Melanesia (Dutson et al.). This guide covers the Bismarck and Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. It has very good plates, with charts showing on which islands the birds occur. There are no range maps, but the following text is very good. Most birders will want to take a birding holiday to New Caledonia at some stage or another for one of the world’s most sought-after birds, the spectacular Kagu – so why not order this book now?
Birds of the Solomons, Vanuatu and New Caledonia (Doughty, Day and Plant) Although not covering as broad an area as ‘Birds of Melanesia’ (above), this small, light guide has good illustrations and a surprising amount of information for each species, with useful distribution maps.
Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago: Greater Sundas and Wallacea (Coates et al.) This field guide is the first of its kind to cover the birdlife of the entire Indonesian archipelago. It covers an impressive 1417 bird species occurring throughout the region. The illustrations are good with species text, distribution maps and illustrations all alongside one another, making it easy to use. We recommend this book for any birders visiting the Indonesian archipelago.
Birds of Wallacea (Coates et al.). This field guide covers Sulawesi, Halmahera, and the Lesser Sundas. The plates are good, and the text follows. But by now the taxonomy is slightly dated. This book is no longer in print, but, if you can find a copy, it is the only relevant one for the region.