softcover; 120 color plates of good artistic quality show 800+ species found in the northern tier of India; multiple plumages of age, gender, and subspecies are shown; a brief amount of identification material is shown adjacent to each bird's illustrations; no range maps
This guide for the northern regions of India is a reduced version of the author's previous and much larger work: A Guide to the Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. This lighter version is a true field guide-sized book that focuses on just those birds found in India's northern and northwestern states. Broadly, the area covered in India is everything north of Mumbai (aka, Bombay) and west of Lucknow.
A total of 120 color plates illustrate 800+ species with good quality artistry. Most of the birds are shown with multiple plumages when significant differences exist between genders, age, or subspecies. These illustrations are good enough and show the appropriate detail to identify most species. Each plate contains 3-11 different species which produce anywhere from 9-32 illustrations on the page. Some of the plates, especially the raptors and shorebirds, are notably crowded with 25-30 illustrations of perched and flying birds. This higher concentration causes many of the illustrations to be a somewhat small. The plate with the shrikes are also shows smaller illustrations.
Just like the book's southern counterpart (Birds of Southern India), the text is the weaker part of this guide. Each bird receives just 3-15 lines to describe it. This limited text may not always be sufficient to differentiate between many of the more similar birds. Sometimes an additional line or two is offered about the habitat or distribution. As in the other sister-books, the raptors receive the most coverage while the passerines receive the least amount (e.g., only 3-4 lines). There is only the sparsest of information given for vocalizations on some of the birds. There are also no range maps supplied.
To help supplement the relatively thin text on identification, nine tables are included as appendices in the back of the book. These tables provide a comparison list of the more difficult bird groups such as nightjars, warblers, rosefinches, and the Yellow Wagtail subspecies.
This guide will serve you well in northern India and is probably the second-best option, aside from the author's combined Birds of India. A superior, but more expensive, book is the Birds of South Asia by Rasmussen.
If you're looking at other titles by the authors (Grimmett & Inskipp) keep in mind this northern guide is a sister-work of the southern guide, which each come from the combined (but still condensed) Birds of India. These three books share many of the same plates and text. The larger, combined version includes range maps which can be very useful. Basically, if you own Birds of India, you already own everything in this northern book. As a last note, all three of these books come from the aforementioned larger work that has everything along with extensive, in-depth text. -- (written by Jack at Avian Review with sample pages, September 2008)