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My first book of Southern African Birds

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Moira de Swardt
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My first book of Southern African Birds

Unread post by Moira de Swardt » Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:25 pm

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
Publisher:Struik Publishers
ISBN No: 978-1-77007-283-1
Recommended Selling Price:R76-95
I don't get to the Parks nearly often enough, despite two trips to the KNP and one to Golden Gate this year.

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Josh of the Bushveld
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Re: My first book of Southern African Birds

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:28 am

I saw a limited preview of this book and it looks great! I think I may have given a similar book (birds or mammals) to my niece or nephew for a birthday a few years ago.

I've just given my SO, who's a complete novice, Kenneth Newman's "What's that Bird?". She's taken to it very well. The only drawback to the book is it uses the old bird names. Otherwise I can recommend it for beginner birders.

What's That Bird?: A Starter's Guide to Birds of Southern Africa
Kenneth Newman
Struik Publishers
The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

FGASA Level 1 Guide

Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal

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Meandering Mouse
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Re: My first book of Southern African Birds

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:51 am

I have a copy of "What's that bird?", bought at a second hand book store. It has helped me to get a sense of categorisation in a clear and concise manner.
The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.

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Spotted Cat
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Re: My first book of Southern African Birds

Unread post by Spotted Cat » Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:10 pm

Bought the book at Lower Sabie during our December holiday. Find it a great help - compact and informative . Can recommend it as a start for every novice birder ... like me :D
"Happiness is like jam. You can't spread even a little without getting some on yourself."

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