Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia by Mark Brazil (Helm Field Guides)

Mark Brazil マーク・ブラジル

Published by A&C Black in the Helm Field Guides series: January 2009 (Europe and Asia).

Published by Princeton University Press in the Princeton Field Guides series (North America): April 2009.

Already described as: "a fantastic and comprehensive guide to the birds of the region", this long-awaited volume is an identification guide to the birds of eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and northeast Russia. It describes not only all of the species, but also provides information on all of the sub-species recorded from the region. This the first time that all of the birds of East Asia, residents, migrants and vagrants, have been described and illustrated in a single volume. All species, with the exception of vagrants, are also mapped. It will be indispensable for birdwatchers and ornithologists living in East Asia, but also of great value to those in Europe, and North America who are interested in vagrants from Asia.

985 species are described and illustrated in 236 plates, with from two to six species per plate. In addition, there is a 15 page illustrated key to the families covered, and there are 950 colour maps.

An extensive appendix provides information on the status of all of the species in each of the countries where they occur in the region. A further appendix lists those species thought likely to occur in the future.


"Birds of East Asia is a fantastic field guide. As always, Mark Brazil does not disappoint!" (Joseph Valencic: review).


The artwork for Birds of East Asia has been created by an international team of artists: Dave Nurney, Per Alström, Carl D'Silva, Martin Elliott, Kim Franklin, Alan Harris, Ren Hathway, Hans Larsson, Derek Onley, Christopher Schmidt, Brian Small, Laurel Tucker, Tim Worfolk and Bill Zetterström.


The maps were created specially for Birds of East Asia by Fergus Crystal, Julie Dando and Mark Brazil.

Glossary & Bibliography

To save space for vital text and artwork, a substantial glossary compiled by James Lambert and an extensive bibliography were omitted from the final published book. They have been made available here so that you can access them in their entirety.

Birds of East Asia

This volume is readily available either directly from A&C Black (Europe & Asia) or Princeton University Press (North America), or via many online distributors including:

WildSounds, NHBS and Amazon.

The book features cover art of a Steller's Sea Eagle carrying a Walleye Pollock by Alan Harris.

The North American version, with the snazzy black background, seen here, also comes in a sturdy hard cover version.


By Peter MacKenzie

(Hiroshima, Japan) review

"This superb fieldguide has been long in the making but the wait has been worth it. The author's home is in Japan and it is with the birds of that archipelago that he is most closely associated. Indeed, for English-speaking birders who live in or visit Japan this instantly becomes the standard reference work. The same will be true of the Korean peninsula and Taiwan where English-language fieldguides are few, poor and dated.

The book's scope expands to include eastern Russia and eastern China and, again, this excellent book improves on anything previously available. (MacKinnon's A Field Guide to the Birds of China is the best single guide to all of China but Brazil's book is more up-to-date, more user-friendly and has better illustrations. If you are staying in eastern China and can only take one, make it Brazil's.)

All fieldguides must limit the text that can be included in the interests of space and weight. All credit, then, to the producers of this marvellous book for including thorough descriptions to accompany what are for the most part outstanding illustrations. The model they follow is the ideal one of text, map and illustration all on adjacent pages. Using the book is a delight and it is particularly good on 'difficult' birds such as warblers and snipes.

Not to everyone's taste may be Brazil's ready acceptance of new taxonomical divisions. Thus Milvus lineatus, Anas zonorhyncha and Bubulcus coromandus (to give three examples) are included here as species rather than races. We must also learn to know the Red-rumped Swallow as the Cecropis daurica, the Coal Tit as the Periparus ater and the Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker as the Yungipicus kizuki. But Brazil usually has science on his side and these names are likely to become widely accepted in the coming years.

At just under 1Kg, the book isn't the lightest of fieldguides but that is a small price to pay for such fine illustrations and detailed text. The region used to be a poor relative in the birding world. No longer. This is a terrific fieldguide which is the equal of the best to be found in Europe, North America, Africa or Australia. I cannot recommend it highly enough."

Here are two sample plates from the thrushes, by Ren Hathway, and from the finches, by Dave Nurney.

Other books by Mark Brazil:

Japan: The Natural History of an Asian Archipelago (coming in 2021)

Wild Hokkaido: A Guide to the national parks and other wild places (coming in 2021)

Field Guide to the Birds of Japan (2018)

The Nature of Japan (2018)

The Whooper Swan (2003)

Wild Asia: Spirit of a Continent (2000)

The Birds of Japan (1991)

A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan (1987)

A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan (1987) (now an out of print collector's item, some mint copies signed by the author are still available - see below).

Mark's in print books are available by mail order from WildSounds (

Mark Brazil, author and naturalist, lectures and leads tours in Asia and many other parts of the world for Zegrahm Expeditions.

Mark is the founder of the Hokkaido Nature Network.

Since 1982 he has been Wild Watch columnist for The Japan Times (

A back catalogue of more than 170 of his essays can be found at

If you would like further information, or would like to obtain a copy of A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan, please contact: