This book celebrates and provides a useful and highly readable introduction to Africa's magnificent avian diversity. Neither a field guide nor a biological text, it presents an overview of African birds and describes and depicts the lives and habits of almost 2,400 species.
The African continent and its associated islands are home to the world's second largest assemblage of birds, spanning two of the planet's great faunal kingdoms. The authors have divided the birds into large groups, with each chapter focusing on a particular group. Each group shares a common characteristic easily recognized by the nonspecialist: preferred habitat, main feeding behavior, or breeding method. For ease of reference, the bird families comprising each chapter are discussed in alphabetical order.
Although a great deal is known about the birds of Africa, much still awaits discovery. Entire species have yet to be described and entered into the scientific literature; sadly, some birds may become extinct before they can be properly studied. A recurring theme in the book is the threat to many species posed by the loss or dramatic modification of habitats and by human actions such as pesticide use, hunting for food and trade, and the destruction of forests. The authors emphasize that if current trends continue, more and more bird species will become endangered.