You have not chosen any items yet
Recommendations for Newman’s Birds by Colour
Author: Kenneth Newman
This new edition of Newman's Birds by Colour has been updated to reflect latest name changes and now includes distribution maps for each species.
It offers a quick and easy way to identify birds: they are grouped according to the dominant colour of their plumage (or even beak or legs) and other distinctive and clearly visible features such as collar and breast bands, head crests and speckled plumage.
The colour-coded arrangement makes the book an ideal guide for the beginner birder, but will also appeal to more experienced birdwatchers as a quick reference to common species.
A comprehensive introduction to the world of birds and birding includes such topics as bird classification, identification features, migration, feeding and habitats.
There are helpful sections offering information on what you need to go birding, and where and when to look for birds.
Kenneth Newman was a renowned bird painter and ornithologist who contributed significantly to the burgeoning interest in birds in southern Africa. His numerous books have sold close to a million copies world-wide.
He served as president of the South African Ornithological Society and was a recipient of the SAOS Gill Memorial Award and the Zoological Society's Stevenson-Hamilton Award.
DESCRIBING BIRDS BY COLOUR
This book has been designed primarily as a guide for beginner birdwatchers and all those, a little higher up the birding ladder, who continue to struggle with getting to know some common birds. Time and again I am told, 'It flew away before I could get a better look at it, but it was red' (or blue, or green or yellow).
Invariably others who saw the bird will argue about its colour or exactly where on the bird the colour was. Much time will be spent paging through the field guide, from albatrosses to canaries, but to no avail. Rather than accepting the motto 'A bird flown is seldom known', the disgruntled birder will suffer a restless night. What can be done?
There is little doubt that the features memorised by most novice birders in the above circumstances are the bird's approximate size and its colour, or the colour that made an impression. There is no doubt whatsoever that colour, no matter how briefly glimpsed, remains in the memory.
If one is to assume that the bird seen was indeed red, then the list of possible species will be very short indeed. However, when you delve a little deeper into the problem, it usually transpires that, on second thoughts, it was only its beak, head or tail that was red (or was it green?). In retrospect the observer is never quite certain. At this point the 'expert' is expected to produce the correct answer and put everyone out of their misery.
My co-authors experienced these identification problems on many occasions and so the germ of an idea was born. After many months and much homework, Irene had cut to pieces numerous copies of Newman's Birds of Southern Africa to assemble a weighty paste-up collection of birds by colour. This eventually arrived on my publisher's desk. And so the idea began to take shape.
Birds by Colour focuses on birds that have a dominant colour in their plumage, beaks or legs. It is not a field guide and was never intended to be, but should be regarded as a companion to my field guide Newman's Birds of Southern Africa.
This book has been planned with a dual purpose. The first section gives aspirant birders a broad overview of what makes a bird a 'bird' as opposed to other animals, and a glimpse of the way birds live. The section touches on flight, migration, feeding, display, nests and bird habitats. It is written without scientific jargon, to introduce the novice to birds as fascinating living beings. This is followed by notes on identifying birds: how to start, what you need, and where to look for them.
The second section is designed to help the beginner identify 'the one that got away'; a briefly seen, tantalising feathered creature that flew before you could focus but left a lasting colour impression. Let's say you've seen an un-identified bird and retained an impression of its predominant colour, say red. You can now page to the section dealing with red birds and see if you can find the bird there.
Once the bird has been 'found' in this book by its colour, refer to Newman's Birds of Southern Africa to confirm your identification. Once you have located the bird in the index of Newman's field guide, ascertain from the distribution map on the relevant page that the bird you think you saw occurs in the region and that it is present at the appropriate time of the year, plus all the other information about the species that will help confirm the accuracy of your identification.
Black plumage in birds probably serves various functions, according to species. It is certainly true that black birds have distasteful flesh and are therefore not sought after by predators. This may be why black drongos can afford to be so brazen when pestering eagles and other large raptors, even pecking them in flight.
In some species black colouring is a camouflage in their chosen environment. The Black Oystercatcher is difficult to see when feeding on mussel-covered rocks and, when it is incubating its eggs, is almost invisible among dried kelp at the high tide mark, provided it doesn't move.
Black water birds, either at the coast or on inland waters, may not be much sought after as tasty meals and are difficult to detect from the air on the dark background of water. Dark plumage also serves many smaller birds since they are difficult to detect in the dark interiors of dense bushes, trees and rocks.
Large black birds have little need for camouflage and can take advantage of their dark plumage in other ways. The Black Eagle, for example, nests during the cold months on the shadow side of mountain cliffs. In such exposed, cold situations the colour black is a good heat retainer. Swifts, being high-speed, airborne feeders, and hole-nesters, also have little need for camouflage.
(African) Black Eagle 51