Many of you have a good grasp on the size of the Sibley. Here's the book side-by-side with it:
Chunky book, yeah? Here it is in terms of thickness (the worn Sib on top):
You take the sleeve off and its naked self is far less exciting. Go figure:
Inside the front and back cover... a map greets you:
Next comes 400 pages of species accounts! You'll find no photos, you'll find no illustrations, you'll find no namby-pamby eye-catching graphs. No, you'll find text. But instead of useless storylines and ongoing drivel, you'll find a well-researched and info-packed collection of data. Ahh... I love it!
Let's take a look at this sample page:
Below that, it mentions the genus. In this case, genus Rhyticeros. Again, it shows that there are 9 species in this genus worldwide but only 1 species in the region. It continues with a tightly-packed paragraph of references, papers, who named the genus, what year the genus was named, mention of the type specimen, etc. There's a lot of research that goes into that tightly packed section!
Then comes the actual species account for the Blyth's Hornbill Rhyticeros plicatus. It mentions it being "resident" which basically means non-migratory. Next to that it says "monotypic" meaning, in this example, that it's the only species in that genus.
The information continues with what it was named originally and by whom, the date that happened, and where it was published. Next it briefly mentions distribution: "Inhabits lowland and hill forest throughout NG, the four main NW Islands, Yapen I, and the D'Entrecasteaux Arch." It continues for another couple of sentences including mention of any extralimital reports followed by a brief notes section.
So that, essentially, is what is covered in each species account. Here's another sample:
Here's another sample page. At the top is the "Jacky Winter"... a species I just saw last fall in Australia. I'll leave it to you if you wanted to peruse through another species account:
So in the end, this book is... just...wow. If you're looking for reference material for the bird species of New Guinea, look no further! New Guinea is no joke either, there have been nearly 800 species of birds recorded there and more than 350 of them are found no where else on earth. This collection of data, the first since Earnst Mayr's checklist was published 1941, is downright impressive. Pick up a copy and see for yourself!
I received a complementary copy from the publisher for review purposes, but the viewpoint expressed in this article is entirely my own.