While intended for children, and small children at that, this simple book may prove helpful to all novice birders regardless of age.
Many people are intimidated by the whole concept of ‘birding’. This is especially true those of us who are uncertain of their ability to distinguish a myna from a pigeon. Most field guides or birding reference books seem to assume an awful lot of knowledge which simply isn’t there!
“My first book of Southern African birds” presumes nothing and offers some useful tips for beginner birders so as to facilitate positive identification, reinforcing the joy of learning through a series of successes. Designed for pre-readers and those just beginning to read, this guide is multi-lingual, English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa. It is thus also an excellent tool for those mastering the intricacies of reading in a second or third language.
The first few pages cover what observations a birder needs to make – where the bird was seen, what it was doing, its size, colouring, and the shape of its beak and claws.
The guide covers 58 birds commonly seen in parks, gardens, beaches and open veld and it describes what they eat and what type of nest they build, as well as their spoor. Each bird is sized on a chart, building confidence in correctly identifying bird sizes which are helpful for future identification of other birds.
The illustrations by Jennifer Schaum are wonderful. Experience in game viewing has taught me that good illustrations are vastly more helpful for identification even than photographs simply because the artist can portray an animal, or in this case a bird, in a pose which captures its distinguishing features best. Animals and birds seldom pose obligingly!
The only addition I would have liked to have seen is a “tick list” with place for dates and notes of where seen. It seems like a detail which would appeal to novice birders, and it would certainly add to the confidence which successful identifications give.
This makes a wonderful gift for any child going to one of South Africa’s beautiful national parks or bird rich holiday resorts over the summer holiday period.
Title: My first book of Southern African Birds
Author: Erroll Cuthbert
Illustrator: Jennifer Schaum
ISBN No: 978-1-77007-283-1
Recommended Selling Price:R76-95
Addo Elephant National Park 14 -16 July 2014 (well, the morning of the 17th, really)
KNP Sable Hide 21 December 2014
KNP Letaba 22 - 26 December 2014
KNP Lower Sabie 25 April to 3 May 2015