Collins Bird Guide

The Collins Bird Guide is a field guide to the birds of the Western Palearctic.

Its authors are Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterström and Peter J. Grant, and it is illustrated by Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterström (with two plates of North American passerines contributed by Larry McQueen).[1] It has been described as "undoubtedly the finest field guide that has ever been produced", and "the last great bird book of the 20th century".[2]

It was originally published in Swedish and Danish in 1999,[3][4] and in English in hardback in the same year, and later in paperback.[5] A large-format English edition has also been produced, as has a German and Dutch[6] edition. The first edition was translated to 14 European languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch and German. A second edition, revised and enlarged, was published in January 2010.[7] A series of updates and corrections were made in 2015, with no change to the edition number.[8]

The cover of the first edition, in all formats, depicts a barn owl. On the second edition, this was replaced by an arctic tern.

Eleven pages of introductory material are followed by the book's main content: 366 pages of text and colour paintings. The text for each species gives brief status notes, followed by a section detailing identification, and concludes with a section on voice. Accompanying most species accounts is a small colour map showing breeding, wintering and migrant range.

The guide is also available as a paid-for app, for iPhone and Android devices.[9][10] The app includes all of the text and images from the print edition, as well as audio recordings.[10] Additional data can be bought separately; the first such package being a set of distribution maps for 271 species, from the British Trust for Ornithology's Bird Atlas 2007–11.[10]

All versions cover Europe, North Atlantic islands, much of North Africa and the Middle East.

Most of the species covered in the main part of the guide are regular breeding, wintering or migrant species in its area of coverage, although some vagrants are also included. There are additional sections giving brief accounts of (a) vagrants and (b) introduced breeding species and species recorded only as escapes.

Collins Bird Guide
cover of the first edition
AuthorLars Svensson and Peter J. Grant
IllustratorKillian Mullarney and Dan Zetterström
CountryUnited Kingdom
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback); apps
ISBN0-00-219728-6 (hardback)
ISBN 0-00-711332-3 (paperback)


  1. ^ Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. Collins. ISBN 0-00-219728-6.
  2. ^ Golley, Mark (1999). "Book review: Collins bird guide". Birding World. 12 (6): 254–5.
  3. ^ Svensson, Lars; Grant, Peter; Mullarney, Killian; Zetterstrom, Dan (1999). Fågelguiden : Europas och Medelhavsområdets Fåglar i Fält. Bonnier. ISBN 978-91-34-51038-8.
  4. ^ Svensson, Lars; Grant, Peter; Mullarney, Killian; Zetterstrom, Dan (1999). Fugle i felten: Feltbestemmelse af fugle i Europa og Middelhavsområdet. L&R Fakta. ISBN 87-614-0107-2.
  5. ^ Svensson, Lars (1999). "The birth of a new field guide". Birding World. 12 (2): 78–80.
  6. ^ "ANWB Vogelgids van Europa, second edition". ANWB. p. 448. ISBN 9789018030803. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Collins Bird Guide, second edition". HarperCollins. Retrieved 23 November 2009.
  8. ^ "Collins Bird Guide updated, but did anyone know?". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Collins Bird Guide app - BirdGuides". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Kehoe, Chris (February 2018). "Collins Bid Guide app for Android". British Birds. 111 (2): 114–116.

External links

African desert warbler

The African desert warbler (Sylvia deserti) is a typical warbler.

Barred warbler

The barred warbler (Sylvia nisoria) is a typical warbler which breeds across temperate regions of central and eastern Europe and western and central Asia. This passerine bird is strongly migratory, and winters in tropical eastern Africa.

It is the largest Sylvia warbler, 15.5–17 cm in length and weighing 22–36 g, mainly grey above and whitish below. Adult males are dark grey above with white tips on the wing coverts and tail feathers, and heavily barred below. The female is similar but slightly paler and has only light barring. Young birds buffy grey-brown above, pale buff below, and have very little barring, with few obvious distinctive features; they can easily be confused with garden warblers, differing in the slight barring on the tail coverts and the pale fringes on the wing feathers, and their slightly larger size. The eye has a yellow iris in adults, dark in immatures; the bill is blackish with a paler base, and the legs stout, grey-brown.

Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide

Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide by Pamela C. Rasmussen and John C. Anderton is a two-volume ornithological handbook, covering the birds of South Asia, published in 2005 (second edition in 2012) by the Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions. The geographical scope of the book covers India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, the Chagos archipelago and Afghanistan (the latter country had been excluded from previous works covering this region). In total, 1508 species are covered (this figure includes 85 hypothetical and 67 'possible' species, which are given only shorter accounts). Two notable aspects of Birds of South Asia are its distribution evidence-base — the book's authors based their distributional information almost completely on museum specimens — and its taxonomic approach, involving a large number of species-level splits.


The brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It has also been called the cock o' the north and the mountain finch. It is widespread and migratory, often seen in very large flocks.

Caspian tern

The Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) is a species of tern, with a subcosmopolitan but scattered distribution. Despite its extensive range, it is monotypic of its genus, and has no accepted subspecies. The genus name is from Ancient Greek hudros, "water", and Latin progne, "swallow". The specific caspia is from Latin and, like the English name, refers to the Caspian Sea.

Covert feather

A covert feather or tectrix on a bird is one of a set of feathers, called coverts (or tectrices), which, as the name implies, cover other feathers. The coverts help to smooth airflow over the wings and tail.

Dan Zetterström

Dan Zetterström (born 1 June 1954) is a Swedish ornithologist and bird artist. He is best known as a co-author of the Collins Bird Guide, with Killian Mullarney, Lars Svensson and Peter J. Grant. He has designed several series of Swedish stamps.

He has contributed to the following titles:

Collins Bird Guide, with Killian Mullarney, Lars Svensson and Peter Grant

Handbook of Bird Identification, Mark Beaman and Steve Madge

Country Life Guides, Birds of Britain and Europe, Håkan Delin et al.

Handbook of the Birds of Europe The Middle East and North Africa (Birds of the Western Palearctic), S. Cramp et al.

Icterine warbler

The icterine warbler (Hippolais icterina) is an Old World warbler in the tree warbler genus Hippolais. It breeds in mainland Europe except the southwest, where it is replaced by its western counterpart, melodious warbler. It is migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa.

Killian Mullarney

Killian Mullarney is an Irish ornithologist, bird artist and bird tour leader. He designed a series of Irish definitive stamps for An Post illustrating Irish birds issued between 1997 and 2004.

He was born in Dublin in 1958, and educated at home for a few years by his mother, Máire Mullarney. He showed an interest in birds from an early age, including bird art, and began to make a name for himself in the late 1970s. Due to his keen interest in bird identification, he served as a member of the Irish Rare Birds Committee from 1980 to 2008, and serves as an identification consultant to many birding journals, including Birding World and Alula. He also wrote an influential series of articles with Peter J. Grant for Birding World which were later produced independently as 'The 'New Approach to Identification'.He was jointly responsible, with Dan Zetterström for illustrating the Collins Bird Guide, which was written by Lars Svensson and Peter J. Grant and has been described by Birding World as "undoubtedly the finest field guide that has ever been produced", and "the last great bird book of the 20th century".


A kinglet, or crest, is a small bird in a group that is sometimes included in the Old World warblers, but is frequently placed in its own family, Regulidae, because of resemblance to titmice. "Regulidae" is derived from the Latin word regulus for "petty king" or prince, and refers to the coloured crowns of adult birds. This family has representatives in North America and Eurasia. There are seven species in this family; one, the Madeira firecrest, Regulus madeirensis, was only recently split from common firecrest as a separate species. One species, the ruby-crowned kinglet, differs sufficiently in its voice and plumage to occasionally be afforded its own genus, Corthylio.

List of birding books

The literature relating to birding is vast; however, certain books or series are regarded by the birding community as key milestones, setting standards of quality and influencing the development of birding literature, or birding itself. These works and their impact are dealt with on this page, in chronological order of publication. More information on each of the individual works can be found on their individual pages.

Bird Neighbors (1897) by Neltje Blanchan was an early birding book which sold over 250,000 copies. It was illustrated with color photographs of stuffed birds.

The Field Guide to the Birds by Roger Tory Peterson is regarded as the key birding book of the 20th century, due to its impact on the development and popularisation of birding.

Atlas of Breeding Birds of the West Midlands, produced in 1970 by the West Midland Bird Club; the first modern bird atlas.

The Birds of the Western Palearctic is a comprehensive regional avifauna for the Western Palearctic. It consists of 9 volumes, the first published in 1977 and the ninth in 1996. Its format and breadth influenced the development of regional avifaunas for other parts of the world, notably The Birds of Africa.

The Helm Identification Guides are a series, originally produced by Christopher Helm, covering the identification of groups of birds at a worldwide scale. The first volume produced was Seabirds by Peter Harrison, published in 1983.

The Macmillan Field Guides to Bird Identification are two small field guides. They adopt an unusual format, in that not all species in the geographical area of coverage are included; instead only groups of species which the authors regarded as difficult to identify are covered. Each such group is given a chapter, where identification is covered discursively rather than in the abbreviated form more usually used in a field guide. The publication of the first volume (covering Britain and Ireland) was the first time that this approach had been used in a European guide; the book undoubtedly had a major influence on improving the identification skills of birders in Britain during the 1990s.

The publication of Charles Sibley & Jon Ahlquist's Phylogeny and Classification of Birds in 1990 brought a debate about the higher-level systematics of modern birds to the consciousness of birders. Sibley and Ahlquist proposed a radically different phylogenetic tree for birds, based on the results of DNA-DNA hybridisation studies. More details can be found in the article Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy.

Handbook of the Birds of the World is the first work to describe and illustrate all of the world's birds. It is currently in production.

The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley was published in 2000, and was widely regarded as setting a new standard for field guides in North America.

The Collins Bird Guide by Peter J. Grant and Lars Svensson was first published in 2000, and was received extremely warmly by birders. It deals with the birds of the bulk of the Western Palearctic.

The Big Year by Mark Obmascik (audio spoken by Oliver Wyman) is a fascinating narration of a birding contest lasting one whole year.

Oriental cuckoo

The Oriental cuckoo or Horsfields cuckoo (Cuculus optatus) is a bird belonging to the genus Cuculus in the cuckoo family Cuculidae. It was formerly classified as a subspecies of the Himalayan cuckoo (C. saturatus) with the name Oriental cuckoo used for the combined species. Differences in voice and size suggest that they should be treated as a separate species. The binomial name Cuculus horsfieldi has often been used instead of Cuculus optatus but is now usually considered to be a junior synonym.

Peter J. Grant

Peter James Grant (1943 – 16 April 1990) was a British ornithologist.

He co-wrote, with Killian Mullarney, the booklet "The New Approach to Identification".

He wrote and revised "Gulls, an identification guide".

With Lars Svensson, He was a co-author of the Collins Bird Guide, published after his death.

He was the third chairman of the British Birds Rarities Committee, from 1976 to 1986.

Red-flanked bluetail

The red-flanked bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus), also known as the orange-flanked bush-robin, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It, and related species, are often called chats.

Streaked scrub warbler

The streaked scrub warbler (Scotocerca inquieta) was formerly the only bird in the family Scotocercidae. It is found in Africa and south-western Asia. It is a bird of desert fringes, frequenting scrubby areas, ravines and gorges, and is mainly resident, although local movements can occur outside the breeding season. However, D. Winkler et al. now place this species and several others in an enlarged family Scotocercidae.

Stuart Keith

George Stuart Keith (4 September 1931 – 13 February 2003) was an English and American ornithologist. He was a champion birder, editor of a series of books about African birds, and co-founder of the American Birding Association (ABA).


The supercilium is a plumage feature found on the heads of some bird species. It is a stripe which runs from the base of the bird's beak above its eye, finishing somewhere towards the rear of the bird's head. Also known as an "eyebrow", it is distinct from the eyestripe, which is a line which runs across the lores, and continues behind the eye. Where a stripe is present only above the lores, and does not continue behind the eye, it is called a supraloral stripe or simply supraloral. On most species which display a supercilium, it is paler than the adjacent feather tracts.The colour, shape or other features of the supercilium can be useful in bird identification. For example, the supercilium of the dusky warbler, an Old World warbler species, can be used to distinguish it from the very similar Radde's warbler. The dusky warbler's supercilium is sharply demarcated, whitish and narrow in front of the eye, becoming broader and more buffy towards the rear, whereas that of the Radde's warbler is diffusely defined, yellowish and broadest in front of the eye, becoming narrower and more whitish toward the rear. The supercilium of the northern waterthrush, a New World warbler, differs subtly from that of the closely related (and similarly plumaged) Louisiana waterthrush. The Louisiana has a bicoloured supercilium which widens significantly behind the eye, while the northern has an evenly buffy eyebrow which is either the same width throughout or slightly narrower behind the eye.A split supercilium divides above the lores. In some species, such as the jack snipe, the divided stripes reconnect again behind the eye. In others, such as the broad-billed sandpiper, the divided stripes remain separate.A supercilium drop is a feature found on some pipits; it is a pale spot on the rear of the ear-coverts which, although separated from the supercilium by an eyestripe, can appear at some angles to be a downward continuation of the supercilium.

Tristram's starling

Tristram's starling or Tristram's grackle (Onychognathus tristramii) is a species of starling native to Israel, Jordan, northeastern Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), western Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman, nesting mainly on rocky cliff faces. The species is named after Reverend Henry Baker Tristram, who also collected natural history specimens.

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