Basics: 1993, 491 pages, softcover; 88 good color plates of all 820 species in the region, multiple poses for most birds, short line of ID text next to the plate; 1/3 of text for each bird covers description, voice, distribution, habits; 20 birding sites discussed, no range maps
There are 88 color plates that show most of the birds with multiple poses or plumages, which display gender, age, or seasonal variations when relevant. The shorebirds, gulls/jaegers, and raptors have the greatest number of illustrations, focusing on non-breeding versus breeding, juvenile versus adult, or subspecies. Most of the plates are done with good artistry that will be very helpful with identification. The jungle-flycatchers, wren-babblers, and some of the warblers will still pose an ID challenge with these plates due to the fewer illustrations. Interestingly - but accurate - the "Red-throated" (now split and named "Taiga") Flycatcher is illustrated with only the gray plumage of the female/immature male. Supposedly, the adult male does not occur here.
It should be noted a large percentage of these plates and illustrations are re-used in a later book published in 2010 by the same illustrator, Karen Phillipps, titled "Phillipps' Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo".
Across from each plate is the bird's name and the briefest amount of identification material. These may be as general as "streaked orange and black upperparts" or "red eyes, rufous wings and tail". The last 2/3 of the book holds the bulk of the text. It is here that a longer description of the bird is provided with 4-7 lines of more extensive detail. This does a good job of describing the bird and helping to differentiate it from a similar species. The remainder of the paragraph provides a good description of the voice along with a quick overview of the bird's complete range as well as the distribution within the four islands. I like the last 2-4 lines dedicated to "Habits". These habitat and behavioral notes provide additional nuances to the bird that may aid with identification - or at least with narrowing down the possibilities.
The book concludes with seven appendices consisting of a variety of lists. They list the endemic birds by nature reserve and by island; the mountain species; or birds found on offshore island groups. A unique addition is Appendix 6 which shows vocal diagrams for 133 species. These are labeled as "sonosketches" which are basically hand drawn diagrams of the bird's vocal pattern, very reminiscent of an electronic sonogram.
A section is also provided that gives an overview of 20 birding locations in the region. A paragraph for each describes the eco-region, its relative location, and a short list of target birds to be found. Actual directions to reach the place are not given.
Although there are now (as of 2010) two books dedicated to just Borneo, this book is still the only one to illustrate all the birds of Sumatra, Java, and Bali which makes this book a "must" for any serious birding done on these islands. I should point out MacKinnon's book "Birds of Java and Bali of 1988" does illustrate all the birds of just those two islands. However, the artwork in that 1988 book is definitely inferior.
Note: Since the publication of this book (1993), there has been taxonomic change with the birds. As an example, instead of the 37 birds defined as endemic to Borneo, as of 2010 about 50 or 51 species considered endemic. These updates are shown in the Borneo guides by Myers and by Phillipps. - (written by Jack at Avian Review / Avian Books, January 2010)
I've listed several related books below...
1) Field Guide to Birds of Borneo by Myers
2) Phillipps' Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo by Phillipps
3) Field Guide to the Birds of Java and Bali by MacKinnon
4) The birds of Borneo by Smythies
5) Photographic Guide to the Birds of Borneo by Davison/Fook
6) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Mount Kinabalu, Borneo by Nakayasu
7) Birds of Mount Kinabalu, Borneo by Davison et al.
8) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia by Strange
9) Photographic Guide to Birds of Java, Sumatra and Bali by Tilford