Almost a quarter of Southern Africa’s bird species, and half of its endemics, are known by birdwatchers as LBJs or Little Brown Jobs. All birders experience some degree of trepidation when confronted by Ornithologicum nightmariensis. Consequently this potentially confusing group of birds is shunned by virtually all beginners and many experienced observers as well. However, LBJs include some of the region’s most spectacular, thrilling, interesting, sought-after and memorable birds. In this eagerly anticipated book, four years in the making, talented author and artist Faansie Peacock shares his passion for and knowledge of LBJs. CHAMBERLAIN’s LBJs will not only help you to confidently identify LBJs in the field, but also to understand and enjoy these remarkable birds.
- Includes more than 230 species of LBJs
- Over 1500 superb original colour paintings by the author
- Innovative design to facilitate identification
- Thumbnail illustrations of the bird in its typical habitat and as it really appears in the field
- Juveniles or immatures are shown in virtually all species
- Depictions of important subspecies
- In-flight illustrations, from above and below
- Detailed, multi-colour distribution maps compiled from the latest bird atlas data
- Distribution maps show subspecies and abundance levels
- Fascinating insights into LBJ biology, classification and names
- Useful tips and techniques to help you find and identify LBJs
“…a magnificent product. The quality and detail of the illustrations, the background habitat paintings and the extent of the research all contribute to something extraordinarily exceptional.”
“The quality is incredible: Faansie must be congratulated on his amazing dedication and the high standards of this project!”
“…I have never seen drawings of challenging birds as astute and detailed as those in Chamberlain’s LBJs before”
“…an overwhelming vote of confidence in the superbly illustrated and detailed species accounts. The content is highly informative but delightful and easy to read and digest as well. It is without doubt a superb reference. A considerable amount of time and conscious investigative effort has been allocated to shaping the text to ensure each species has been covered in comprehensive detail.”
“I can honestly say that this book is in a different league to anything available; in fact, I think it is the most significant bird book to come out in SA in a long time.”
- Sponsor’s Foreword (David Chamberlain)
- Foreword (Mark Anderson)
- Birders vs. LBJs
- How to identify LBJs
- Case study examples
- Optical Illusions
- Moult & feather wear
- Main LBJ groups
- How to observe LBJs
- Photographing LBJs
- Birding Resources
- How to use this book
- Glossary of terms
- Bird Topography
- Scrub Robins
- African Warblers
- Prinia-like warblers
- Penduline Tits
- Cuckoo Finch
- Rock Thrushes
Four years in the making, CHAMBERLAIN’S LBJs sets a new standard for African field guides. This eagerly-anticipated book focuses on 235 species of Little Brown Jobs (or LBJs), a designation that frustrated birders assign to any smallish, brownish and featureless bird that defies identification. Through its wealth of accurate and visually stunning illustrations, carefully planned layout, innovative design, and comprehensive text, the book will help beginners and experienced birders alike to confidently identify LBJs. However, the book is by no means intended as a technical identification manual, but rather a celebration of LBJs and their habitats. CHAMBERLAIN’S LBJs is a practical and non-technical but simultaneously detailed and informative guide that does not burden readers with unnecessary technicalities, but which also does not oversimplify what is undeniably a complicated birding discipline. Each species in the book is afforded at least one full page, half of which is occupied by the paintings and the other half a textual account. The species texts are creative, accurate and applicable (and at times creative and even humorous). Each species text amounts to approximately 450-500 words.
CHAMBERLAIN’S LBJs has a very strong visual component, subscribing to the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words. The book includes more than 1400 original colour paintings of superb detail, accuracy and appeal. Particularly attention has been paid to size, proportions, posture and carriage, to help transform the paintings from two-dimensional images into representatives of living, breathing creatures that might fly off the page at any moment. Faansie Peacock, who is both the author and artist, has the following to say:
“The paintings are attempts at capturing something of the birds’ lives and characters, and I hope that my excitement for LBJs is detectable in the material. Personally I am most fond of the small thumbnail illustrations (which often took up more time than the main paintings); these are based on actual birding memories, and I ended up painting hundreds of objects I never thought would be in a bird book: car tyres, aeroplanes, tractors, roof tiles, signboards, hosepipes, bridges, buildings, huts, mountains, beaches, lawns, hammers, spanners, cast-iron pots, snakes, chameleons, terrapins, antelope, insects, fingers, golfers, soccer players and birders, to name a few. If anything, this is testament to the fact that birds are all around us, always. A part of life.”
The colour plates form the main component of the book, and each LBJ is lavishly illustrated, with 5-10 images per species. Most species are depicted on a half page, but variable or especially challenging groups such as cloudscraper cisticolas and large brown pipits are allocated a full plate each. Plates feature images of juveniles, non-breeding adults / females and breeding adults / males, as well as in-flight illustrations (from above and below) and a thumbnail sketch of the bird as it really appears in the field. Important subspecies differences are also clearly painted and shown on the multi-colour distribution maps.
All illustrations were done by Faansie Peacock. The paintings are a reflection of his passion for birds, his meticulous observation skills and his talent as a bird artist. The result is an unparalleled range of celebratory and scientific images of exceptional quality. The innovative design of the book and the logical plate layout allow efficient comparison between the most similar species.
The Monotonous Lark, Mirafra passerina, was chosen for the front and back covers of the book. The genus of this iconic species is also the name of the publishing company responsible for producing CHAMBERLAIN’S LBJs. The name of the Monotonous Lark refers to its incessantly repeated, simple, croaking song that can continue for hours on end, day and night. However, despite its local abundance after good rains, this near-endemic species remains enigmatic, and the extent of its movements outside the breeding season are poorly known.
While camping on the banks of the Limpopo River one night, after a heavy thunder shower, I had the rather surreal experience of hearing what seemed like hundreds of Monotonous Larks singing while flying overhead at night. The next morning the males were everywhere in the veld, launching their parachuting display flights from every second bush. The ability of birds to exploit suitable conditions never ceases to amaze me!
Click on the images for larger versions.
CHAMBERLAIN’S LBJs is far more than just an amplified field guide. From the outset it was deemed important to provide extensive supplementary information to give readers a broader and more in-depth understanding of LBJs. Consequently the book features diverse background information on topics such as names, evolution, classification, breeding biology, eggs and nests, diet, subspecies, and hybrids. Although the focus of the book is on field identification, additional identification resources are provided for tricky groups; these include wing formulae, sonograms, measurements, feather details, identification keys, schematic summaries, habitat tables, optical illusions, and more.
General tips on how to find and observe each family are given, and specific stakeouts for a few sought-after species are also suggested. Finally tips on photographing LBJs, suggested further reading, a glossary of terms and bird topography diagrams are provided.
Faansie Peacock’s unique writing style is evident throughout: his mix of accurate scientific information, creative and colourful writing and subtle humour make CHAMBERLAIN’s LBJs essential in the field but also fascinating enough to enjoy at home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Faansie Peacock is one of Southern Africa’s best-known birders and most talented bird artists. Perhaps thanks to his novelist grandfather, writing is in his genes: by the age of thirty, Peacock has authored or co-authored five books, including Pipits of Southern Africa (2006) and The Chamberlain Guide to Birding Gauteng (2008), in addition to numerous scientific papers and popular articles. He acted as the scientific consultant for Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa (2010). As his name implies, Peacock lives and breathes birds; the happiest moment of his life was when his wife, Ronel, walked down the aisle in a feather-festooned wedding dress. The preferred habitat of the Peacock is bushveld, grassland or strandveld, but they have been known to occur in Elardus Park, Pretoria.