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.

Right: The book is divided into 7 chapters. Click on the coloured boxes to see what each chapters includes and which species are covered.

Below: For a complete list of all the LBJs included in the book, click on the thumbnails below.

 
 
 
         
 



 

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.”
 
       
 
Introductory boxes at the top of each plate highlight similarities and important shared identification features, and list each bird's main habitats. The colour of the boxes (and the navigation tab on the middle left of the page) correspond to the colour schemes of the book’s 7 chapters; in this case, blue for larks and pipits.

English, Afrikaans and scientific bird names are given, as well as any alternative names, as are length and mass values.

If multiple subspecies or races occur they are listed and plotted on the distribution maps. A concise summary paragraph gives the key identification information, including notes on the bird’s habits, structure and appearance, and where it is most likely to be encountered.

Accurate distribution maps depict relative abundance levels, migration and subspecies borders. The maps are based on the latest SABAP2 data. For easier navigation, 42 cities and towns are plotted on the maps, as are SA provincial boundaries. Abbreviations convey the bird’s IUCN threat category and endemism status and identify vagrants and aliens. CLICK HERE for a larger example.

Seasonal status bars show relative abundance in each month of the year (migration or changes in conspicuousness) and egg-laying.

Flight picures from above and below.

Thumbnail pictures show the bird in its typical habitat and as it really appears in the field. These informative sketches are also used
  to demonstrate characteristic behaviour, show the bird engaged in interactions, or to illustrate nests, displays or plumage variations.

Juveniles or immatures are shown for virtually every species. If the sexes differ both the male and female are illustrated. Different subspecies/regional variation, and seasonal changes in plumage are all clearly depicted.

Key identification pointers are given in the plate captions. In addition each illustration is labelled with the bird’s age, sex, subspecies and a location.

Vertical size bars show the bird’s actual average size, from bill tip to tail tip.
 
 


 

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.
 
       
 
The top 5 ID features are listed in the box at the top of each bird’s species acccount.

An interesting fact or entertaining anecdote introduces each species.

Habitat is described in detail, as this is deemed very important for LBJ identification.

The status paragraph indicates how common the bird is, whether it undergoes any seasonal or erratic movements, and whether it is likely to be found singly, in pairs or in groups.
The identification section starts by describing how, where and when the species is most likely to be encountered. Main visual, structural and behavioural clues are discussed, with the most important diagnostic features highlighted in bold. Finally, differences between the sexes, a short description of the juvenile, and notes on subspecies or other variations are given to conclude the identification section.

Species that are the most likely confusion risks are directly compared.

 
Behaviour such as feeding methods and displays, is often useful in LBJ identification.

Biology includes notes on the bird’s diet and breeding behaviour, nest, and eggs.

The extensive voice section describes important calls and songs in a detailed but uncomplicated fashion. Sonograms are included for selected species.