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An Analysis of the Book ‘Birds of the West Indies’

The Caribbean has often been a center of interest, with many considering it as the final pirate’s haven. These islands were named the West Indies by the Spaniards. As a result, the “Birds of the West Indies” is concerned with bird species that have been reported in the area. This covers the Caribbean Island nations of the Lesser and Greater Antilles and the Bahamas. This paper aims to analyze the biography of the book’s author, its target group, strengths, weaknesses, and its impact on the US economy.

Background Information of the author

Bond, the original author of the book ‘Birds of the West Indies,’ was born in New York, Pennsylvania, on 4th January 1900. He was the child of Margaret Reeves (Tyson) and Francis Edward Bond. His dad’s 1911 excursion sparked his passion for historical development to the Orinoco Delta. Bond attended the Delancey School and then St. Paul’s School in Cambridge, New Hampshire. However, after his mother’s death in 1914, he returned to England alongside his father. He attended Harrow and then Trinity College, London, where he earned a B.A. in 1922 and was the only American student of the Pitt Society (Kirwan et al., 2019). After graduation, he returned to the United States and got employed for a financial institution in Philadelphia for 3 years. A passion for evolutionary biology motivated him to resign. Rodolphe Meyer de Sichuanese borrowed money to go on an adventure to Amazon to gather samples for the Academy of Biological Sciences. Following that, he served as an ornithologist at the Institute of Biological Sciences in that city, eventually ascending to the position of director of ornithology (Raffaele et al., 2010). He became a Caribbean bird expert who created the standard book on Birds of the West Indies, which was initially released in 1936. He led scores of birding expeditions to the West Indies throughout the 1920s and 1960s.

Bond received the Musgrave Prize in 1952 from the University of Jamaica; in 1954, he got the Brewster Medal from the American Ornithologists’ Union and the Leidy Prize from the College of Biological Sciences in 1975. He passed away at the age of 89 at the hospital in Philadelphia Chestnut Hill. He was buried in the graveyard of Gwynedd Valley’s Church of the Messiah. His wife, the novelist Mary Fanning Wickham Bond née Porcher, perished in 1997 after writing many memoirs concerning her spouse (Raffaele et al., 2010). His main aim of writing the book was to equip the reader with knowledge of the various birds that inhabit the West Indies, with target users living around the Caribbean region. The book was also presumed to enhance the desire for further studies on these species of animals which seemed to be inadequately researched.

Summary of the book “Birds of the West Indies”

The Caribbean always has piqued my interest. Some may consider it as the final pirate’s haven. Others see pristine sand beaches, coconut-laden palm trees, blue waterways, and lush foliage. The islands affected by this water are also associated with the exploration of the New Continent. And sadly, its exploitation and subjugation by dominating European nations. These islands were nicknamed the West Indies by the Spaniards. As a result, the Birds of the West Indies are concerned with bird species that have been identified inside this area. This covers the Caribbean archipelagos of the Greater and the Lesser Antilles and the Bahamas. There are 29 nations and 115 islands in total.

General Overview of the book

The book is present in multiple editions: flexible and rigid cover. The flexible fabric version is the finest alternative for tropical travel, particularly to moist and seaside areas. The book is fairly substantial. It has 400 pages and sizes 16 by 23 cm. To put it simply, it takes up a lot of room in our bags. This is particularly apparent when we contrast it to the instructions that came before it. However, there is a rationale behind its large capacity. It contains a huge number of splits and subspecies, some of which have only lately been documented for the area. It also includes comprehensive data for every species, including the most recent status report and pertinent observations.

Strengths of the book

The authors attribute predominance to the species existing in the area in the article allocated to every species. They distinguish these on the taxonomic maps. They included graphics devoted to every subspecies in certain situations. Furthermore, several subspecies contain scientific notes with further details. The researchers have extensively updated every species’ state. They clearly put in a lot of energy to go through the compilation of fragmented citations. The texts pertaining to sex and age classification, geographical differences, intonations, and related species, are fairly comprehensive. According to my perception, this forms the fundamental value of the book sets it apart from the competition.

Weaknesses of the book

Several illustrations were created for the HBW miniseries, and the majority of them are of exceptional quality. This work included contributions from Hilary Burn, Ian Lewington, and other well-known authors. Nevertheless, with 29 different authors participating, the style and quality of the images are expected to vary. The images on the same page do not seem to be proportioned in several cases. Moreover, the sizes of the graphics on other pages look imbalanced. Furthermore, certain pictures, notably those depicting changes in sex and ages in certain organisms, are lacking.

Despite this, the overall quality and richness of the graphics much exceed that of the previous manuals. Until previously, a majority had to rely on North American guidelines to assist us in recognizing troublesome experts in the field. Thanks to this book that is no longer the case. Because of the high quality of the majority of the images, this article is a good choice for anyone planning a trip to the Caribbean.


Kirwan, G. M., Levesque, A., Oberle, M. W., & Sharpe, C. J. (2019). Birds of the West Indies. Lynx Edicions.

Raffaele, H. A., Wiley, J., Garrido, O. H., Keith, A., & Raffaele, J. I. (2010). Birds of the West indies. Princeton University Press.


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