The Birds of Turkey

Authors Guy M Kirwan, Kerem Boyla, Peter Castell, Barbaros Demirci, Metehan Özen, Hilary Welch & Tim Marlow. Christopher Helm / A&C Black, HB, ISBN 978-1-4081-0475-0


As the only country to span both Europe and Asia, and bordered as it is with no less than eight other nations, Turkey holds a special place in Western Palearctic ornithology.

Since the early 1970s, European birders have visited it in significant numbers, and from small beginnings Turkey has itself established a flourishing and highly-motivated network of bird clubs. It is therefore surprising that this is the first book to truly document the avifauna of this proud country.

A total of 463 species are covered in this book. The main focus for each species account is status and distribution, while breeding information is provided for 316 species that have nested in Turkey.

With the exception of vagrants, each species has a monochrome distribution map. Four levels of shading indicate seasonal distribution, and while the maps do not divide the country into the main regions, major rivers are always indicated.

Chapters by a number of experts discuss the history of ornithology in Turkey, eco-regions and the breeding season, while another poses plenty of questions for which the authors simply did not have clear answers.

For example, Mediterranean Shearwaters surely must breed along the coast – but to date nobody has proved that it happens. Plenty of birders have made a pilgrimage to watch Caspian Snowcocks in north-east Turkey, but despite this nobody has found a nest since 1876. Incidentally, this enigmatic species features on the back cover in an excellent watercolour by John Gale, who also provided paintings of Black-bellied Sandgrouse for the front cover.

Turkey has a wealth of excellent young bird photographers whose work can be seen on websites such as http://www.trakus.org, but while the work of a number of these has been used in the 32 colour plates that illustrate a mixture of birds and habitats, too many of the illustrations chosen are of only average quality, which is a little disappointing.

KEITH BETTON, FEBRUARY 2009

The Birds of Turkey (Helm Field Guides)
£60.00
By Geoff Welch, Barbaros Demirci, Guy M. Kirwan, Kerem Boyla, Metehan Ozen, Peter Castell, Tim Marlow, Hilary Welch