Helm Identification Guides

A library for ornithologists…

Helm identification guides

Sadly, I only own a (very large) handful of the wonderful Helm Identification Guides. They are pretty pricey and due to my having another set of books, to be covered in a few weeks time, I haven’t been able to justify adding further volumes from this series to my shelves.

Pages from the Helm Finches & Sparrows identification guide. A look at this plate and it takes me right back to the hours I spent in Bedgebury Pinetum looking for the lone Scottish Crossbill in a roaming flock of Common Crossbills

Pages from the Helm ‘Finches & Sparrows’ identification guide. A look at this plate and it takes me right back to the hours I spent in Bedgebury Pinetum looking for the lone Scottish Crossbill in a roaming flock of Common Crossbills

A page from the Wildfowl volume

A page from the ‘Wildfowl’ volume

They are lovely volumes, there are updated and improved editions but these are still, almost, leading the way in bird identification. There is a wealth of background information on most species covered and they are not too impenetrable!

The plates were created by leading artists and text is by experts in their field. For example, Peter Harrison produced the Seabirds volume following 14 years of research. Part of that research consisted of him completing his three year art course, then setting off with his wife Carol in a Land Rover on a seven year seabird research expedition. For several years he worked as a deckhand aboard trawlers and crayfishing boats so that he could more easily study and sketch seabirds.

Some species have been omitted from some volumes to the annoyance of some, myself excluded. I am never going to see more than a few percent of those species included. Also, there have been changes to taxonomy in a handful of cases over the intervening years, but that is always the case. As soon as any volume is published, new research occasionally supersedes that which went before.

If you see one of these volumes at a decent price, buy it.

 

 

Books in Featured image:

Wildfowl, an identification guide to the ducks, geese and swans of the world. Steve Madge, Hilary Burn. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), 1989. ISBN 0-7470-2201-1

Tits, Nuthatches & Treecreepers. Simon Harrap, David Quinn. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), 1996. ISBN 0-7136-3964-4

Finches & Sparrows, an identification guide. Peter Clement, Alan Harris, John Davis. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), 1993. ISBN 0-7136-8017-2

Seabirds, an identification guide. Peter Harrison. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), revised reprinted edition 1989. ISBN 0-7136-3510-X

Shorebirds, an identification guide to the waders of the world. Peter Hayman, John Marchant, Tony Prater. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), 1991. ISBN 0-7136-3509-6

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