Birds of Cambodia Field Guide
We are always delighted to be able to point people in the direction of field guides that are published specifically for the country we are visiting. When this Birds of Cambodia field guide appeared in 2019 it filled a gap for birding in this exciting country. With this publication birders in Cambodia can leave poorer quality regional guides behind.
As with other field guides published by Lynx Edicions, the structure of guide’s taxonomy is in a way that is relevant to whichever list you choose to follow. This means that although new additions to the Cambodian list will follow, it is likely to be a long time before this book is out of date.
Birds of Cambodia is the field guide that we will use on our birding tour itineraries in Cambodia:
This memorable birding tour will be more enjoyable if using this birds of Cambodia field guide. Using older regional field guides is likely to be confusing and considerably heavier than this publication.
Most importantly, this guide features range maps rather than lengthy geographic descriptions. In keeping with other field guides from this publisher this book includes newly-compiled range maps for each species. A variety of expert and amateur sources contributed to the most accurate maps possible and displaying them alongside the illustrations makes cross referencing them as easy as possible. However, nothing is perfect and a few range maps, notably Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, seem to overemphasize how widespread species are. No doubt some range maps are incomplete, but this is inevitable in a country where there is still a lot to learn about the avifauna. The range maps are easy to understand and reproduced at a good size. It is great that the maps display the range of all known subspecies, encouraging birders to make more detailed observations.
Standardized illustrations from HBW are used here as they are in all of the field guides published by Lynx Edicions. In addition, some new plates were painted, in consultation with local experts, to include subspecies that are found in Cambodia. The quality focuses on illustrating the main identification points rather than fine detail with a high proportion of known subspecies included. Nicely laid out plates make them easy to refer to although a very few are a little cluttered, most notably some shorebirds and the raptors. Generally the illustrations are good although the presentation, in atypical poses, of some species does make identification tricky at times. Acrocephalus warblers and flycatchers fall into this category but overall the plates are good.
The species accounts are one of the strengths of the Birds of Cambodia. As with other field guides in this series, taxonomy is dealt with in a unique way, making it valid for whichever list a birder may follow. By grouping birds under well-known species heading, it deals with subspecies individually, that may or may not be splits. This really makes it clear where taxonomic difficulties occur and encourages more detailed observations by visiting birders.
The visual presentation of the accounts is good, making it clear where one finishes and the next begins. The limited space is used wisely with all subspecies listed and names in English and Khmer as well as the scientific names. Call descriptions are kept short and only expanded upon where useful rather than rambling on for many lines of text. Comparison to similar species is a useful addition with reference to former names/taxonomy. The accounts also contain quick reference to the conservation status and status within Cambodia. This is excellent, only taking a few words but strangely this is not a feature of all field guides.
Species names and index appearing in Khmer script is very useful, allowing visiting birders to interact with locals. Rest assured that this field guide’s publication language is English and the index is ordered in an easy-to-use and logical fashion. For those who like lists, there is an insert which provides the owner with a code that allows a free download of a checklist of the birds of Cambodia. This list is based on HBW taxonomy so will differ slightly from all other taxonomic lists.
For those who like technology, each species has its own QR code. This allows birders, when online, to access photos, calls and information on those species; a useful set of resources. This is a novel feature which is common to all the field guides in this series. As with most field guides there is an introduction which outlines habitats and some relevant details on travel in Cambodia. An extensive list, and map, of top Cambodian birding sites makes for some interesting reading too. A nice addition are the pointers on how to use the book and get the most out of it. This section explains the terminology, the annotation of the range maps and the many gaps in the knowledge of Cambodian avifauna.
We highly recommend that all participants on our trips to Cambodia obtain a copy of this field guide. Birders booking a Cambodia birding tour with us will receive a 10% discount code for use when purchasing this book directly from the publisher. Our guides will be using this field guide when leading our Cambodian birding tours.