Written by: Simon Espley
The book, Parrots of Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands by Mike Perrin with photos by Cyril Laubscher, is long overdue and is a proud addition to my coffee table. In human eyes parrots pull rank over many other birds – probably because of their intelligence and ability to mimic and “speak” our languages – and so they have had a close relationship with us over the millennia, as companions and objet d’art. They also fulfill the role of food in some rural areas and increasingly as commercial trading stock. And for the rest of us, parrots are intriguing, beautiful birds to observe in the wild and to wonder at.
Here then is a book that appeals to all bird fans – from ornithologists to academics and bird-watchers to bird-keepers. There is enough eye-candy in the form of great photos to keep most people page-turning, although I would have preferred more pictures.
I found the detail of some of the observations fascinating, full of little fact treasures. For example CITES may classify a particular species as “least concern” and yet, when you read the anecdotal and factual evidence in the book, this is clearly not the case. In fact this deep and granular level of information in this book is one of its major strengths. The maps could have been more drilled-down (no need to show the whole of Africa if the bird only occurs in one or two countries) and contained more detail.
The book covers behavioral and ecological characteristics of parrots and also dives into issues such as the trade in wild-caught parrots, African parrot conservation, field techniques in parrot research and even a section on extinct African parrots. There is a wonderful case study on Cape parrots – clearly a favorite species for the author (me too).
Every parrot fan should have this book.