Birds of Vietnam Field Guide
It is incredible that the superb birding provided by this endemic-rich country has not attracted the publication of a specialist birds of Vietnam field guide until as late as 2019. Instead of struggling through a variety of field guides that cover the whole region of Southeast Asia, birders now have a book that contains only the species that pertain to Vietnam. This lightweight publication makes it easy for us to recommend a field guide for itineraries that we run to this fantastic country.
It is likely that it will be a long time before this book goes out of date. This is because of the intelligent way that taxonomy has been dealt with to make it relevant to a variety of classifications old and new.
Birds of Vietnam is the field guide that we will use on several different birding tour itineraries in Vietnam:
These exciting birding tours are more enjoyable when having this Birds of Vietnam field guide to refer to. Using some of the older regional guides is likely to cause a lot of confusion regarding taxonomy.
Detailed range maps are something that all the best field guides need and in this book they appear right next to the illustrations of the birds, making it easy to refer between the two. Given the fact that no field guide for Vietnam has existed previously it seems safe to assume that range maps have been compiled quite recently and should be fairly accurate. All known subspecies occurance are also marked on these range maps, encouraging birders to be more vigilant in their observations.
All species appear here in full colour plates. These detailed illustrations cover all birds known to have occurred in Vietnam up to the date of publication but a few have already been added as is inevitable. The majority of the bird illustrations feature species in typical poses. However, it might have been more helpful had wildfowl been shown in a floating pose rather than standing. One of the best features of the Lynx Edicions series of field guides is the way splits/potential splits have been dealt with. This means that all taxons regarded as split candidates appear in the plates. The artists worked alongside the authors to prepare the plates for Vietnamese taxons. Most illustrations are good although some over-emphasize the difference between some very similar species. Although many different artists contributed to this book, the plates are fairly consistent in style which is excellent.
Here every taxon appears with the most distinct receiving their own accounts, under the broader heading of the parent species. In this way this book is relevant to whichever taxonomic authority birders use and also for any future splits. This is a great feature that helps us relate what we are seeing on a birding tour to clients who are using different taxonomies. It also ensures that it will be a long time before this guide becomes out of date.
The authors have made their accounts compact and helpful to bird identification, using the limited text space very well. The inclusion of call descriptions only occurs where useful. This is in contrast to some books, making it clear how abundant species are with terms such as “rare resident” and “common passage migrant”. A short section of text highlighting the differences between confusion species is very helpful. All subspecies known from Vietnam is an excellent addition and will become the standard in future field guides. The authors provide alternate names for species where necessary, which is very useful when referring to other books/lists.
Next to the species accounts there are QR codes, something that Lynx Edicions include in all new publications. These QR codes allow birders to scan them, using an appropriate app, with their mobile devices for more information about all the species in the book. Birders need to be online to use these codes.
This is an English-language publication but all bird names are in Vietnamese too and there is a completely separate index that is in Vietnamese. These additions are forward-thinking as they allow visiting birders to interact with locals and may go some way to allowing increased access to bird watching among the Vietnamese. The well-ordered English-language index follows a logical and easy-to-use system that might seem obvious but is not a feature of all field guides.
There is an interesting and concise introduction that covers habitats and conservation in Vietnam as well as listing many of the country’s best birding locations, alongside an annotated map. A references list comes before the index making it easy for birders to learn more about the birds of Vietnam.
Available in a novel, soft-cover version this field guide is light in weight. This is great both for packing in luggage as well as carrying in the field. This soft cover is flexible and somewhat water resistant too. Maps of Vietnam appear inside the front and rear covers; the latter indicates the best birding sites in the country.
With the book is a voucher supplying a code for birders to download a checklist of the birds of Vietnam. This checklist uses the taxonomy used within this book and may vary from the official list that the Vietnam Bird Records Committee maintain.
We highly recommend that all participants on our trips to Vietnam obtain a copy of this field guide. Ensure that you order your copy so that you receive it before the tour starts! Birders booking a Vietnam birding tour with us receive a discount code to use when ordering direct from the publisher.