Skip to Content

Fieldguide: BIRDS

See what other forumites recommend you should read
User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:57 pm
Location: Polokwane, Limpopo Province

Fieldguide: BIRDS

Unread post by DvZ » Wed Apr 13, 2005 8:11 pm

Hi All

Decided it was time to start brushing up on my bird knowledge.

Bought Kenneth Newman's Birds by Colour yesterday.

This book contains Southern Africa's common birds arranged by colour.

I thought this a good start for me - see bird, identify colour. Then look for it under appropriate colour in book. Should be simple enough.

Anybody else know this book or author?


User avatar
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: USA

Field guide to birds of southern Africa

Unread post by cougar » Sat Apr 23, 2005 11:20 pm

Hi all,

I'm interested in getting a field guide to birds of southern Africa. Some of you have recommended Newman's Birds of Southern Africa.

I will be making my first trip to the KNP in late Aug.-early Sept. I'm curious to see how many of the birds that I've heard about are actually going to be in the KNP while I'm there (and not migrated somewhere else). Does Newman's guide show any migration information for the different species?

In general, about what % of the bird species are usually in the KNP area in late Aug./early Sept.? Most? Not very many?

Thank you for any help!

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 532
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:26 am
Location: Durban, South Africa

Unread post by Jock » Sun Apr 24, 2005 8:20 am

Hi Cougar

I have a Ian Sinclair Field Guide "Birds of Southern Africa" and this book does not mention the migration information. I had a look on the internet at the Newman's book and it would appear also not to have this information. (Please correct me if I am wrong). I do have a copy of "The complete book of Southern African Birds" that does contain migration information but it is a very big book and could not be carried around the park.

I would say that some of the birds that migrate have returned by September. However, it all depends of the weather. I have seen swallows return early some seasons and then late other seasons.
Her Highness Jockelina

Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 203
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:38 am
Location: California

Best beginners birding book?

Unread post by Ollie » Sun Jan 22, 2006 6:51 pm

Thought this would be the best place to ask the question. We will be visiting KNP in late March and early April. We see quite a few references to different bird books, so our question is what do the forumnites recommend as a 'beginners' book? Does such a thing exist.... thanks in advance for the advice :D

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 884
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 7:10 pm
Location: Golden Mile,West Coast, CFG

Unread post by Jay » Sun Jan 22, 2006 6:58 pm

Ollie you are going to get LOTSA different answers here :lol:

I would suggest SASOL, The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa; Publisher: Struik; Author:s Ian Sinclair and Phil Hockey; ISBN 1-86825-759-2

illustrations are nice and big, explanations not too scientific and layout very user friendly :D

Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 2163
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 5:57 pm

Unread post by gwendolen » Sun Jan 22, 2006 7:09 pm

Hi Ollie,

I'm a beginner myself and bought Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. It took me a day or two to work out the best way to use it identifying birds. It has very nice illustrations and drawings of birds in flight too. Very handy with ID-ing raptors. (Well, trying to ID raptors. :wink: )

I would have bought the book Jay recommends (SASOL's) but is was 3 times as expensive at the time and a lot bigger. I thought it would be better to wait and see if I got hitched on the twitching thing first.

User avatar
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1507
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2004 7:01 am
Location: Marloth Park, South Africa

Unread post by Freda » Sun Jan 22, 2006 7:26 pm

The Honeyguide kruger map has 3 very nice pages of birds that should be OK till you get hooked.
I like the Newman's birds by colour, so we have 3 different books already, decisions, decisions, you can't go wrong with any one of them.

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 3866
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)

Unread post by arks » Sun Jan 22, 2006 8:05 pm

The book I've had since my first SA visit is Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa. The new(er) edition is available on Amazon, but is expensive and also hardcover. I like the guide because I find photos easier for ID than drawings, but I also have a long out of print Newmans - the one specifically for KNP birds (which is great because it doesn't include birds that don't occur there). I'd suggest you consider all the suggestions you will get here and then see what's available when you arrive in SA - even if you only have time to look at a CNA at the airport - and get what looks best to you. I bought my Sinclair (a paperback and brand new then) in the first few days of my first SA visit and it has travelled with me ever since - now filled with margin notes of my bird sightings :lol: 8)
RSA 2017
9-11 November Cape Town
11-29 November RMS St Helena: St Helena & Ascension
29-30 November Cape Town
1 December-21 January Darling

User avatar
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2005 10:58 pm
Location: NOT in KRUGER!!!

Unread post by LittleLeopard » Sun Jan 22, 2006 11:04 pm

I have what must be another version of Jay's book.

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa Third Edition; Struik Publishers; Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton; ISBN 1 86872 721 1 (English softcover) and ISBN 1 86872 742 4 (English PVC cover). This book is also available in Afrikaans.

Being a very new birder myself, :redface: I can tell you that I have found the identifying thing very difficult, but am slowly learning what to look for. This book has illustrations of the birds and not pics. I seem to remember someone on the Forum suggesting that one gets a book with photo's to start with, but am not sure. :?

User avatar
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 450
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2004 12:08 pm
Location: Tshipise

Unread post by Shidzidzii » Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:15 am

For Kruger park specificaly I would suggest Ken Newman's - Birds of the Kruger Park .

It is a sub-set of his birds of South Africa . The benefits are :-
- you only see KNP birds so specific species for the region
- the distribution maps are detailed for KNP
- the descriptions also specific for KNP
- quicker to leaf through when searching

Len Gillard has a cassette tape on sale "Birds of the KNP" of KNP bird calls which similarly helps you .

Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:17 pm
Location: Johannesburg

Unread post by Wiggie » Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:03 pm

For those of you living in or near Jo'burg, I use a bookdealer, Bryan Peirce, who sells Natural Science books, at prices much cheaper than normal retail bookshops.
He unfortunately doesn't have his available stock in an electronic medium form, but has books in the following categories:

SASOL Bird Series; SASOL se Voel Reeks; Newman's Bird Series; Newman se Voel Reeks; Robert's Bird Series; Ander Voel Boeke; Birding Atlas and or Maps; Sinclair and Other Bird Series; Newman's Laminated Bird Identification Posters; Bird Calls - CD, CD Rom, Video and Audio Cassettes; Trees; SAPPI Laminated Tree Posters; Wild Flowers; General Plants; Medicinal and Poisonous Plants; Fungi; Alien and Invader Plants - Control and Rehabilitation; Grasses, Sedges, Restios and Rushes; Succulents; Algemene Plante; Biodiversity; Astronomy; Weather and Climate; Boeke tot die Hemelruimte en Weer; Geomorphology; Veld Management; Butterflies and Moths; Insects; Spiders and Scorpions; Dragonflies; Mammals; Animal Text Books; Snakes, Other Reptiles and Amphibians; Algemene Diere; General Wildlife; Kingdon's Laminated Mammal Posters; Fish and Fishing; Other Watersport/Activities; Laminated Posters of Freshwater Fish, Whales and Dolphins; Art and Culture; Adventure, History and Tales of Africa; Sounds of the Wild (CD and CD Rom); Predator Video's and DVD's.

I highly recommend him. His mobile is : 082 488-5061.

User avatar
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 14313
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:02 pm
Location: mind in SA, body in The Netherlands

Unread post by bert » Sun Jan 29, 2006 1:31 pm

Shall i add to the confusion :twisted:
Bought Roberts Birds of southern Africa in Kruger
Paperback, paid R40 in 1999
Fits into a large pocket
Has all the usefull info and all birds seen in flight have drawn
And in the description the special features of every bird is mentioned

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 838
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 8:29 am
Location: Stuck in Gauteng

Raptor Field Guides

Unread post by Johann » Wed May 24, 2006 3:04 pm

There are a few books out there specifically with Raptors in mind.

The first one is THE book on Raptors apparently. I've ordered my copy 2 weeks ago. Will let you know how good it really is :wink:

Raptors of the World by James Ferguson-Lees and David Christie. ISBN: 0618127623
Just short of 900 pages it covers all 313 species of the world's raptors. More than 2000 colour illustrations makes it the book of all books. Bit expensive (just under R500) but worth every sent if I listen to other people's comment on this book. (one problem 2,5kg :shock:)

Raptors of the World: A Field Guide by James Ferguson-Lees and David Christie. ISBN: 0691126844 or 0713669578
Condensed version of the above-mentioned book. Got some new species in as well, totalling 338 species. 320 pages, 118 colour plates and half the price of the complete title. But some people have said that in condensing they have taken out some important id'ing points. O ja, it also only weighs a third of the full title's weight.

Sasol Birds of Prey of Africa and its Islands by Alan and Meg Kemp ISBN: Hardcover - 1868727327 Paperback - 1770073698
I've got one of these. Not bad at all. 348 pages. Here you've got a double-page spread for each bird. Lots more info on breeding, habitat and distribution and other things than the normal Sasol field guides. Differences between male, female and juvenile are pointed out. Also similar or confusing species are discussed. Loads more illustrations and photo's per bird as well. Retails: Paperback R170 and Hardcover R300 The one Snoobab mentioned I think.

Sappi Raptor Identification Guide for Southern Africa by Ulrich Oberprieler and Burger Cillie. ISBN: 0958419574
Got one of these as well. Very nice. 286 pages paperback. Again double-page spread on each bird discussed. Excellent colour photographs. Same kind of info as Sasol Birds of Prey. Colour in-flight illustrations on every single one which comes in quite handy when trying to id a bird in flight.
Retails for around R200

They're all available on the normal shopping sites except for the Sappi title but I did find it eventually. Hard one to track down that.
Loads more available but I think that these are probably the better ones for our region.

PS: Just one little thing I forgot to mention. Owls are not featured in the Raptors of the World titles.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein

Latest lifers from Kruger NP:
Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti Dikbekkoekoek
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Europese skaapwagter

User avatar
Peter Betts
Posts: 857
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:38 pm
Location: Port Elizabeth

Unread post by Peter Betts » Fri Sep 15, 2006 8:04 pm

Talking about bird books for beginners. Saol and Newmans are best for ID and of course Roberts is the book left at home (its too big to cart around now.) to read up on all the new ID's. Does Ken Newman still produce his Birds Of Kruger Guide?? If it is still around that would be best as the beginner would not have to worry about Penquins, Lovebirds and the like not found in Kruger. I used to have such fun notifying Ken about my sightings of Summer birds in the middle of Winter in Kruger eg I have seen Thick Billed Cuckoo about 10 times and ALL IN JULY!!! but after taking this advice they changed the sighting ref of this species to "Found all year in suitable habitat" but now they seem to have reverted back to Summer Migrant... seems like I must inform them again as We saw another one near Crooks Corner 31/07/2004 very near a flock of his host the Retz helmet shrike.
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 191
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 5:09 pm

Unread post by mountainview » Tue May 01, 2007 5:48 pm

I use a field guide (which BTW needs updating - if anybody can recommend a good up-to-date fieldguide) and just to help me when I get back home for info and confirm my sightings I use the Atlas of Southern African Birds (2 Vol). It has probably the most infomation in any volumn regarding all aspects of each bird.

Can anybody also reccommend bird calls for an iPod.
Latest Lifers: Brown-Backed Honeybird; Violet-Eared Waxbill; Green-Winged Pytilia; and heard often but never seen - Yellow-Fronted Tinkerbird (±2m away in the open)

Return to “Bookshelf”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Webcam Highlights

Submitted by EElse at 09:47:01
Submitted by Gerda at 22:23:10
Submitted by CindyC at 20:33:11
Submitted by Jennie at 22:31:44