Let’s look at Birds of India: Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives (Second Edition) (Princeton Field Guides):

The best field guide to the birds of the Indian subcontinent is now even better. Thoroughly revised, with 73 new plates and many others updated or repainted, the second edition of Birds of India now features all maps and text opposite the plates for quicker and easier reference. Newly identified species have been added, the text has been extensively revised, and all the maps are new. Comprehensive and definitive, this is the indispensable guide for anyone birding in this part of the world.

Of all the different regional bird guides that I’ve looked at over the last several months, including those I’ve got on my desk waiting for my attention, two are thicker than all the others, Birds of India: Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, and Birds of Melanesia: Bismarcks, Solomons, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. “What does that mean?” you may ask. “What does thicker have to do with anything?”

One word: Plastics. No, wait, I mean: Speciosity. Melanesia and India are big, the latter bigger, and also, it isn’t really just India, it is South Asia including all those other countries mentioned in the title. Big gives you more species. But beyond that, these regions have a lot of species for other reasons. Many reasons have been proposed but two come to mind right now: 1) Diversity in terrain, and 2) being at the end of huge regions where species may get crammed into you like pebbles in a toddler’s pocket.

Birds of India covers 1,375 species with 226 color plates shoeing each of then and numerous color morphs and varieties. The illustrations are high quality and the info is laid out in old style Peterson with maps and descriptions across from the plates.

There are nine species of eagles in this region. Countless owls. Numerous frogmouths. You will obviously want this book (or this edition if you’ve got the older edition in hand) if you are going to the region or live in South Asia, but even if you don’t, but are big on birds, this is a nice book to have on your shelf for during your own surveying of diversity. For people living in certain temperate regions, I’ve recommended getting the corresponding tropical region’s books (one or two anyway) so you can visit, virtually, the sister species of the brilliant rainforest birds that come to your back yard, like the Tanagers, but even if you don’t live in the Old World you may consider this volume as the representative of the part of the world you don’t live in.

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