A PROPOSED NEW EDITION OF A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF HAWAII AND THE TROPICAL PACIFIC
Need for a new edition—
for a description of the first edition. In the quarter century since this book was published, no serious competitor has appeared on the scene, and it stands alone in its detailed coverage of the birds of Hawaii, Micronesia, Polynesia, and Fiji. The years since 1987 have seen an explosion of research efforts in the tropical Pacific, much of it engendered by this book. Dr. Pratt’s work alone has produced considerable new information on taxonomy and biogeography, life history and behavior, history and status, and distribution. A total of 77 new species have been recorded in the tropical Pacific region since 1987, and ca. 58 additional species will be recognized as a result of improved taxonomic knowledge. Knowledge of bird distribution in the region has advanced significantly, especially with regard to seabirds, and a number of species have expanded their ranges or changed status, including at least a dozen regional species thought to survive in 1985 (the cut-off date for the text) that have gone extinct.
Plan of the new book—
The proposed new edition is planned as a modern-style guide, with full color pages on the right, accompanying text on the left, measuring 21 x 14.5 cm, the size of other recent Princeton guides. The main body of the book will be 128 color plates with facing page text (=256 pp.). A mock-up of the text page for Plate 80 appears at the end of this essay. With front matter, appendices, and literature cited, the book will total around 325 pages. The text will use as much of the original as possible, but will abbreviate and use telegraphic writing to maximize content in a small space. Still, a considerable amount of new text will be required for new information and additional species. Taxonomy in the new book will be based on a complete taxonomic revision that will be published more or less simultaneously. This revision will bring the classification of birds in Micronesia, Polynesia, and Fiji up to modern standards, as has already been accomplished in Hawaii. The color plates have been planned out in detail. New images created for this book are being done in a format that will enhance their usefulness for re-use in smaller articles, posters, and other educational materials. The book will have two illustrated appendices for long-extinct species and hypothetical records. Species that have gone extinct since 1980 will be treated and illustrated in the main text to increase awareness of recent losses and the extreme vulnerability of island birds.
Importance of the new book—
This new edition will not only be a boon to birders but will enhance scientific research on Pacific island birds by presenting the biodiversity of this vast region in a coherent modern framework. It will update one of the fundamental tools used to train field observers for population surveys and other field studies. It will make island wildlife more knowable and understandable for everyone, and will continue the process of involving local observers that began with the first edition. It will be essential field equipment for both government and private-sector conservationists, and will help to educate politicians as to why island birds are special and should be considered differently from continental ones. Ultimately, this project could make the difference in whether many species survive or go extinct.
Current status of the project—
Pratt completed 223 new bird images for the new edition between 2003 and 2005 before he moved to North Carolina. In 2008, he arranged with his employer, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, to work on the additional illustrations as part of his research duties, but did not begin right away because he needed to complete several smaller publications that were important preliminaries for the book.
Unfortunately, state budget cuts in June 2011 resulted in the elimination of Pratt’s museum position, which placed the entire project in jeopardy. Dr. Pratt retired as of May 2012, and plans to complete the book as quickly as possible given his reduced income. Princeton University Press, who will bear all of the costs of publication, supported Dr. Pratt’s earlier illustration work, but has little remaining in the budget. Completion of the book as planned will require the painting of an additional 609 full and 62 half images of birds, the assembly into coherent plates of images from several sources, plus the completion of revisions and additions to the text. Estimating liberally, the illustrations alone will require 1600-1700 work hours, so the need for outside support is obvious. There are several ways in which interested parties can help.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1) Purchase existing artwork
(see Art Sales
). Any money generated in this way “buys time” for work on the book because it requires no additional time commitment.
2) Make a tax-deductible contribution to the Pratt Research Fund with the Friends of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences
. These funds will be administered by the Friends, a non-profit NGO, who will make sure they are not used for any purpose unrelated to the completion of this book. The money will support the writing of text for the book and several related scientific papers, the production of sonograms for the taxonomic revision, creation of illustrations, and possibly some travel to museums for additional specimen work. Make checks to Friends of the Museum Pratt Research Fund and send to:
Friends of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27601-1029
3) Sponsor artwork for the new book and receive the original when available
. You can sponsor a full plate as it appears in the book, one of several clusters of images grouped for pleasing aesthetics, or any of the single images in the overall painting plan (see below). All sponsors will be acknowledged by name (if they wish) in the book. The clusters and single images are those that will be combined with existing ones into new plates. Full plates are painted just as they will appear on the printed page in the new book. Sponsors are asked to make a 25% deposit to claim sponsorship of a given piece, with the balance due upon documentation of completion. Originals will likely be delivered before the book is published. Many of the color plates will be constructed, cut-and-paste, from combinations of existing artwork from the first edition and other publications illustrated by Dr. Pratt, with new images. Some of the new elements will be simple pieces showing 1-5 images, and some will be composite paintings containing elements from several plates in the book painted together for best aesthetics. Purchasers of the smaller pieces will be acknowledged in the book, but probably not on the plates themselves. Prices are based roughly on the number of images, but some adjustments are made to reflect complexity and difficulty of the work and salability. Generally, rates of $150, $125, and $100 per full image for complex, moderate, and simple degrees of difficulty, respectively, apply. Paintings may be delivered before publication, once they have been scanned for reproduction. For the painting plan and prices, CLICK HERE