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The World's Rarest Birds

Three years in the making, this unique and beautifully illustrated book highlights the plight of the rarest and most threatened birds on Earth. It has been produced to support BirdLife International‘s Preventing Extinctions Programme.

Every four years, BirdLife International undertakes a comprehensive review of the threat status of all the world’s 10,000 or so bird species on behalf of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The most threatened are categorized as Critically Endangered or Endangered, which means that they are likely to become extinct in the forseeable future unless urgent action is taken to conserve them. In addition, four species are categorized as Extinct in the Wild and now exist only in captivity. The latest review was completed in 2012 and lists a frightening total of 590 species in these categories.

The World’s Rarest Birds is a landmark publication that illustrates all these birds. It features stunning photographs of 515 of them – including images from two prestigious international photo competitions organized specifically for this book. For the 75 species of which a photo could not be obtained, the highly acclaimed artist Tomasz Cofta has created wonderfully realistic illustrations. The book also covers 60 species that are so poorly known that their threat status cannot be assessed (the so-called Data Deficient Species).

Introductory chapters explain the threats birds face, how their threat status is assessed, and how this information is used to set conservation priorities. The book is divided into seven regional sections – Europe and the Middle East; Africa and Madagascar; Asia; Australasia; Oceanic Islands; North America, Central America, and the Caribbean; and South America. Each section highlights particular conservation challenges and threatened bird hotspots, and includes a comprehensive illustrated directory of the most threatened birds, giving a concise description of their distribution, status, population, key threats, and conservation needs. Quick Response (QR) Codes are included for every species, linked directly to the relevant species factsheet on BirdLife International’s website, where detailed, up-to-date information is freely available.

Here are the technical details about the book:

  • Large format, hardback with dust jacket (8½ x 11 inches / 216 x 279 mm)
  • 360 pages
  • 877 colour photos (the work of 321 photographers from around the world)
  • 103 colour illustrations by Tomasz Cofta
  • 610 colour maps
  • ISBN: 978-0-691-15596-8
  • Published by Princeton WILDGuides
  • Recommended price just $45 or £34.95


The World’s Rarest Birds could not have been produced without the contribution of many people. Grateful thanks are due to all the photographers who generously submitted their images and to the sponsors of the photo competitions – Minox, Princeton University PressLynx Edicions, WILDGuides and BirdLife International. Thanks are also due to County Ornithological Services of Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK, for enabling complimentary copies of the book to be sent to BirdLife Partners around the world.

The World’s Rarest Birds is the successor to the Rare Birds Yearbook, which highlighted the Critically Endangered species and was published in 2007 and 2008. This proved to be very effective in raising funds to support BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme.

About the Authors

Erik Hirschfeld

Erik Hirschfeld is an expert in both air traffic control management and ornithology. He brings his knowledge of birds and management skills to the authorship of “The World’s Rarest Birds.” He is well-versed in the issues and challenges facing rare and endangered bird species and has likely contributed valuable insights and information to the book.

Andy Swash

Andy Swash is the managing director of WILDGuides and a skilled wildlife photographer, naturalist, author, and guide. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge in wildlife photography and naturalism, and his contributions to the book likely include stunning photographs of the threatened bird species featured. He has a passion for wildlife and conservation, which is evident in his work as a naturalist, author, and guide.

Robert Still

Ecologist, intrepid traveler, and graphic artist Robert Still creates publications that inspire readers to become more interested in nature. He is an expert in the field of ecology and his contributions to the book likely include a deep understanding of the ecological factors that threaten bird species, as well as a keen eye for design and layout. He has used his graphic design skills to make the book visually appealing and engaging for readers.

More Books By The Authors

Britain’s Mammals

Written by Robert Still, Andy Swash..

Britain’s Mammals

“Britain’s Mammals” is a comprehensive guide to the identification, habitats, behavior, distribution, and numbers of the mammals found in Britain and Ireland. It includes profiles on every mammal that can be encountered in the region, as well as established introduced and reintroduced species. The book was chosen as one of The Guardian’s Best Nature Books of 2017 by Stephen Moss, who described it as “absolutely brilliant.”

The book is praised for its clear drawings of tracks and signs, which include an accurate droppings identification chart, and for encouraging readers to test their new skills in the field. The book is also noted for its stunning photographs that capture the charisma of the species as well as key identification features. The guide is considered to be accessible and easy to use for both old hands and newcomers alike.

The WILDGuides series, of which “Britain’s Mammals” is a part of, is seen as rapidly becoming the definitive format for UK field guides. It’s clear, concise, and comprehensive format is considered to have set a new bar in the field guide arena.

It is an excellent field guide that is well written and structured, and it is expected to appeal to both relative novice and those with a major interest in mammals. The book is considered as the standout option for anyone wanting a field guide or basic introduction to Britain’s mammals. This is a book that should hardly hit the bookcase and be in constant use. It is highly recommended by many nature enthusiasts and experts in the field.

Britain’s Birds

Written by Robert Still, Andy Swash..

Britain's Birds
Britain’s Birds

Britain’s Birds is an excellent photographic guide to the birds of the UK and Ireland, written by Robert Still and Andy Swash. The book has received numerous accolades, including being named A Birdwatcher’s Yearbook Best Bird Book of the Year.

The book is highly praised for its excellent photographs, which are of the highest quality, making it easy to identify bird species. The book covers all the birds ever seen in Britain, along with a few that may be escapees, with 3,600 photos. The book is considered an indispensable aid in solving the complexities and riddles of birding. The second edition of the book includes 400 new photographs, a comprehensive revision and update of all species described, and records the changes in the birding landscape in the intervening years.

The book is considered to be the best photographic guide to Britain’s birds, and the authors are praised for their ability to source pictures that show key identification points, which is considered an amazing feat. The book is considered to be a brilliant book collection, a colorful, fact-filled introduction to the animals, insects, plants, and habitats that makes watching wildlife so fascinating.

The book is not your average encyclopedia, it’s the only one to cover every bird in every plumage ever recorded in the UK and Ireland, which makes it an absolute must-have for any birder’s bookshelf. The book is also recommended for those who wish to invest in both the book and its companion the “Pocket Guide” which is a lighter version of the book that can be carried in the field. Overall, the book is considered an excellent guide that is highly recommended by experts in the field.

Britain’s Day-flying Moths

Written by Robert Still, Andy Swash..

Britain's Day-flying Moths
Britain’s Day-flying Moths

Britain’s Day-flying Moths is a book that focuses on a selected group of moths, numbering over 2,500 species, making it accessible for the enthusiastic naturalist who hasn’t made the leap to the expensive world of moth-trapping. The book is written by Robert Still and Andy Swash, both experts in the field of natural history and ecology.

The book is praised for its clear and concise information, and for being up-to-date. Many reviewers find the book to be a perfect and fitting introduction to the world of moths, with exceptional photographs, packed with solid information and advice. The book is recommended for anyone contemplating to further their interest in Lepidoptera.

The book is beautifully produced and the authors are praised for their exceptional work in the field. The book is considered a must-have on the bookshelf or in a backpack for anyone interested in moths. It is also recommended for birders and naturalists alike. The book is also considered to be a great value for its price point.