Ex Libris: Parrots A Guide to the Parrots of the World


T his wonderful new book contains 88 color plates illustrating over 1000 parrots (including subspecies and various color morphs). I know of no other volume with such a comprehensive set of illustrations. And the plates are not scattered about the book, they comprise 176 pages in a 

section near the front of the volume. The illustrations are on the right hand pages with the pertinent notes on the left pages. This system is very handy for gaining a quick identification of a particular bird (indeed, the book was designed this way to help wildlife officers, birders, and aviculturists make quick and accurate identifications). The notes give the range of the bird and describe the pertinent items on the illustration - the differences between subspecies, for example.

These notes also refer one to an expanded text and a map relating to the specific bird. For example, the first


plate contains illustrations of five species of lories. The number one note refers to the Black Lory. There is a reference that refers one to page 217 for more detailed notes and a map. This system is very easy to get around in.

From my standpoint, another blessing of Parrots is that it contains data on all the parrot species and subspecies - and it can be lifted with one hand (it weighs about three and a half pounds). Because it is 7 x 9 5/s inches in size and 1 'h inches thick, it can be hauled about as you travel. I keep it on my computer desk and don't have to employ a two-handed book stand to use it. Despite its compact size, it has 584 pages chock full of information.

The book begins with some very useful background information. The first major head is "STYLE AND Lxvour OF THE Boox." As this book is organized in its own unique way, it is well to read this chapter. It is a road map, as it were, to the whole volume.

The second head is ORIGINS AND Evou.moNARY REI.ATIONSHIPS which is just one page long. Don't skip over it. You will gain a better appreciation of the parrot, a truly ancient bird.

Next is CI.ASSIFICATION OF THE PARROTS which discusses the taxonomy of the parrots - which parrots are related and to what extent. In other words, what defines a species, a subspecies, and what to do with natural hybrids. Many questions are discussed here that have a strong bearing on how we identify our birds and why. Good reading and no one should pontificate on the controversial captive hybridizing issue without having read this short but very informative chapter.

NATIJRAL HIS1DRY OF TIIE PARROTS follows. It is divided into General Behavior, Distribution, Habitat, Movements, Social Behavior, Diet, and Breeding. I believe aviculturists could improve their husbandry techniques by digesting the information in this section. You will learn how different various kinds of parrots really are. One captive technique definitely does not fit all. What are some of the natural characteristics of the birds you keep?

CONSERVATION STATIJS, the next head, defines the meaning of the various terms such as Extinct, Critically Endan-


gered, Endangered, and Threatened. There are two tables, one listing the parrots under threat of global extinction, the other listing those considered Near-Threatened. What species is the world's rarest bird? Read this section.

Once you have learned which parrots are under the most stress, read the section THREATS. This explains why certain species are declining. Habitat Loss is first with Live Bird Trade second, Introduced Species third, Persecution and Hunting fourth, with Storms and Climate Changes last. As we better understand these pressures on parrots, we can take more focused action to ameliorate some of the damage to some of the species.

The next section is titled CAPTivE BREEDING. It does not tell you how to feed and breed your birds. Rather, it presents the realities of captive breeding with regard to endangered species. Many aviculturists like to feel (and often say) "We are breeding endangered birds and thus saving the species."

Not necessarily so. In fact, almost never so. The authors explain, "There are several sets of complex and interrelated issues linked to captive breeding that need to be considered." And they go on to outline some of the issues. I feel this short one-page section should


be mandatory reading for anyone who breeds parrots. It will put your philosophy in touch with reality.

The final section in the volume is the expanded texts treating every known parrot species and subspecies. These notes contain Identification, Voice, Distribution and Status, Ecology, Description, Sex/ Age, Measurements, and Geographical Variation (if there is one). Are you aware that there are two races of the Peach-faced Lovebird? I thought not.


In my experienced opinion (I use reference books in earning my living), this is the most useable and up-to-date book on parrots that there is. In my extensive editorial needs, I find myself reaching for Parrots by Juniper and Parr almost exclusively. I can't imagine how I got along without it. And I paid money out of my pocket for the thing. I'm not just touting a review copy.

If you have parrots or are interested in them, I don't see how you can get along without the book either.