This new book, published in 1993 by Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey,· is on the whole a very complete, useful guide for identification and background information on all 290 species in the families Fringillidae, Estrildidae, and Passeridae. Its 73 color plates include, in addition to the usual illustration of males of each nominate subspecies, renderings of the previously neglected females, juveniles, and subspecies which should prove very useful in the field and in aviculture. Range maps and basic species information accompanying the plates are further enhanced by a detailed text which is easily located by page numbers given with each species in the plate section. The scientific name is also given in both plate and text sections which is very helpful in identifying a particular species since common names can so often be misleading.

A complete table of contents facilitates the location of a particular species, giving the bird's reference number, common name, scientific name, and text page number. The addition of plate numbers would have been desirable to save time and avoid confusion, as one might think the number given was the plate number when indeed it was the arbitrarily assigned reference number. Preliminary notes and labeled diagrams of avian anatomical features as well as the glossary of terms, bibliography, and index (by scientific and common name) add to the book's usefulness as a reference tool.

Being familiar mostly with estrildid finches, we must limit our following critique to the section on this group. Our comments reflect mostly our experiences as aviculturists rather than field investigators.

Having worked closely and 

lived rather intimately with many of the estrildid finches over the past seven years, we have come to know a good deal about their morphology and behaviors. In many instances the authors are "right on" with their plates and narratives. There are, however, some errors with what we have found to be true of not just one or two representatives of a given species, but of groups of a species, observed over several generations.

One error, which could prove to be very misleading in the field, is the illustration of the Chestnutbreasted Negro-finch Nigrita bicolor, which depicts the bird as stocky, with a short, thick bill. In fact, the Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch is a slim, streamlined bird with a long, narrow pointed bill, rather like the Violet-eared Waxbill Uraeginthus granatina in body shape and size. Its long, pointed bill is at least twice as long as illustrated, indicative of an insect-eater, not a seed-eater, consistent with Nigrita bicolor's dietary preference-insects and softfood, not seeds.

Another glaring flaw concerns the Blue-breasted Parrotfinch Erythrura tricolor. The authors suggest that this bird is rare and unknown. In fact, this bird has been in European aviculture for quite a few years. The- suggestion that male and female differ only slightly is misleading. The male exhibits the deep blue of an Indigo Bunting, while the female is much paler, similar to the male Cordon Bleu. Also, females are smaller than males. As this species appears to be currently trapped from different islands than in the past few years, more recently trapped birds are much smaller in size, suggesting island variation. The call, a descending trill, is superficially similar to that of the Blue-faced Parrotfinch Erythrura trichroa to which it is closely related. We 

strongly suspect the skin used for the illustration is the same one used by Derek Goodwin in Estrildid Finches of the World (1982), only from a different angle. The flaw is immediately apparent as it is in Goodwin's illustration: the bird is not only

blue-breasted but, is indeed, in life, a blue-bodied bird with green wings and a red tail.