Book reviews:    Birds of the Indian subcontinent

Birds of the Indian subcontinent
Bikram Grewal
962 217 392 6
Revised edition 1995
Guidebook Company Limited, Hong Kong
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This is a book that I bought for my first trip to Sri Lanka. It covers about 500 species of the approximately 1200 species occuring in the subcontinent. The book has a very nice introduction about the birdlife in the region. As mentioned, I bought this book for a trip to Sri Lanka, since not very many books are available specifically about Sri Lanka. The is one bird guide about Sri Lanka but I can't remember the title anymore. I bought it too, but gave it away to a young Sri Lankan with an interest in birds. Books are very expensive to the local people. The Sri Lankan books had very nice color drawings but hardly any text at all.

This book about the Indian subcontinent has color photographs of the different species together with a small text. The book is meant for identification and for this purpose it is okay. To learn more about the Indian bird species is not well suited. The color photographs are usually good quality and enable easy identification of the birds.

The book is slightly bigger than A5 size but still small and light enough to use in the field. It is a paperback but the pages are sewed together which makes the book stronger. You won't have pages falling out of it. At the back there is an index of families and species of Indian birds, including subspecies. This index of 2060 species can serve very well as a checklist for twitchers. There are also indices to english and scientific names and there is a list of alternate names.


Conclusion: This book is nice identification book about birds of the Indian subcontinent. It has good color photographs and a short text on about 500 species of the total 1200 species occurring. So it is not conclusive but shows all the more common birds. For birding in India it will indeed be a very good book. Just for Sri Lanka it covers too many species not occuring on the island. But then again, there is not too much choice for Sri Lanka alone. If I would go back to Sri Lanka I would certainly take it with me again.

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All text and images 1991 - 2011 Hans Martens