Birds of Thailand Field Guide
For a long time it has been difficult to answer the question “Which field guide do you recommend using in Thailand?” With several publications over the years the choice was confusing; a choice which got harder and harder to make with various field guides becoming hopelessly out of date. When Lynx Edicions published this Birds of Thailand field guide in July 2018 that question suddenly became easy to answer.
Given the way that taxonomy has been treated here to make it relevant pre and post split means that it will probably be a very long time before an updated version of this book is necessary, even in these days of rapidly-changing taxonomies.
Birds of Thailand is the field guide that we will be using on several different birding tour itineraries in Thailand:
- Central and Northern Thailand Birding Tour
- Thailand and Vietnam Pittas Birding Tour
- Thailand Raptor Migration Tour
All of these exciting birding tours will be greatly enhanced when using this birds of Thailand field guide. Using some of the older guides is likely to cause a lot of confusion.
As becomes a field guide specialising in one country, detailed range maps are a feature here and appear on the same page as the illustrations and species accounts for each bird. This may seem obvious but it is not always the case. What is also interesting is that these range maps were updated from recent records whereas all previous guides for Thailand relied on very outdated maps compiled in the 1980s. Subdivisions on these range maps indicate the ranges of all subspecies that occur in Thailand, an excellent feature.
This guide includes detailed, colour illustrations for all species recorded in Thailand up to the publication date, but inevitably one or two others have already been added. However, all additions are all (so far) rarities and do not confuse birders much in terms of what they are likely to see. One of the great strengths of this book is the way in which the question of splitting has been treated. While the authors and artists worked together on the illustrations, making sure that they depict Thai subspecies, a few of these appear rather darker than the birds are in real life. Most illustrations are accurate and depict birds in typical postures.
By listing every taxon and giving the most distinct ones their own entries, under the broader heading of the parent species, this book is relevant to whichever taxonomic list birders follow and for any future splits too. This is nothing short of genius.
As is typical with birding field guides there is a limit on the space for the authors to impart useful information about the birds to the reader. However, the authors have done a good job of making their accounts compact, to the point and relevant to bird identification. Details such as “common resident” and “rare winter visitor” are very helpful and call descriptions are only lengthy when it is useful for them to be so. The inclusion of a section comparing birds to confusion species is also very useful. Listing all known subspecies is an excellent addition; something that should have been standard in field guides much before this.
Alongside the species accounts are QR codes, a novel feature. Birders can scan these codes with their mobile devices to get more information about their chosen species when online.
While there is always room for more information, the species accounts here are generally concise and useful, unlike some older field guides for Thailand.
Publication of this field guide is in English but there is a Thai script version of the index too. The index is easy to use with species such as Grey Wagtail appearing under “W” for wagtail, rather than “G” for grey, something that other books have got wrong. All species names appear in Thai in the species accounts, allowing visitors to interact with locals who do not speak English; a nice touch.
While the most important part of any field guide are the illustrations and text there is also an interesting introduction. This introduction discusses the habitat types of Thailand as well as listing, with a map, most of Thailand’s important bird watching sites.
A voucher providing a link to a free download of a checklist of Thailand’s birds is a nice addition too. The checklist applies to the taxonomy of this field guide though and may not be the one used by some birders.
We highly recommend that all participants on our trips to Thailand obtain a copy of this field guide. Birders booking a Thailand birding tour with us will receive a 10% discount voucher to be used when purchasing this book directly from the publisher.