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Kingfishers and Related Birds Alcedinidae (2 volumes)

This work is published in three parts, each part consisting of two volumes. Our featured book is Part One and is complete with the two volumes. Anyone familiar with Lansdowne Editions will know them for their sheer size and wonderful illustrations. This is not a book that you can curl up with on a cold winter's evening in front of the fire, you can, however, sit at a table and peruse the volumes in front of a nice warm fire! (Of course, the fire does not have to be there in order for you to enjoy these elephantine volumes – one alone weighing 5.8kg!!).

This is the Collector's Issue and only issue of the first edition of Kingfishers and Related Birds. Limited to 1000 copies and signed by the author: Joseph M. Forshaw, an Australian ornithologist with particular expertise in parrots, and by the illustrator: William T. Cooper a renowned Australian nature artist, this is copy 791. Included with the books is also a signed limited edition plate reproduced from the second volume.

The binding of these volumes is simplistic and that is what I like about it. Nothing too gaudy considering their sheer size at 20.5” tall by 14.5” wide. Three-quarter navy blue leather (spine and corners) with simple blind stamped decorations, raised bands to the spine (where the cord binding is hidden) and pale blue title label with gilt. Pale blue contrasting cloth sides with a simple gilt tooled border.

As I turn the pages, I am in awe... who would think that there could be so many different species of kingfishers from all around the world? Kingfishers are of the order 'Coraciiformes', a group of usually colourful birds and include kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, motmots and todies. 'Alcedinidae' is the family name for the kingfisher with a suborder of order Alcedines containing three families, Alcedinidae (river kingfishers), Halcyonidae (tree kingfishers), and Cerylidae (water kingfishers).

Volume one covers 'Ceryle to Cittura' – Ceryle is the genus of the water kingfishers and includes the Eurasian Kingfisher (our common kingfisher). Cittura is a poorly known genus, with predominantly brown plumage, found in Sulawesi and Indonesia of which the masked kingfisher is one such member.

Volume two covers 'Halcyon to Tanysiptera'. The Halycyon family are the tree kingfishers and are made up of the most numerous species of kingfisher. Tanysiptera are a group of tree kingfishers found in Australasia and consist of eight species.

Within these two volumes, each species of the order Alcedinidae is described in full along with their habitat, habits, and eggs. B/w illustrations and distribution maps accompany each one.

At the rear of each volume are beautiful, meticulously illustrated colour plates of the birds, each protected by a tissue guard and title page and 52 in total. Beautiful, bright and pleasing to the eye, the birds come to life through the paper by means of Cooper's amazing artistic ability.

These two volumes are contained in a publisher's drop-back box lined with felt to help protect the books from the ravages of life...

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(Published 30th Apr 2015)

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