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Need for a new edition—In over three decades since Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific 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 103 species new to the tropical Pacific region have been recorded since 1987, ca. 107 additional species have been recognized as a result of taxonomic splits, and 18 species on the 1987 hypothetical list have been confirmed in the region. Thus the species coverage is double that of the earlier book. 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 twenty species thought to survive in 1985 (the cut-off date for the 1987 text) that have gone extinct. Obviously, a new book, in a modern format, is needed.

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, the size of other recent Princeton guides (see example below). The main body of the book will be ca. 130 color plates with facing page text. With front matter, appendices, and literature cited, the book is expected to total around 330 pages. The text will borrow as much from the 1987 book 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. The color plates have been planned out in detail (outline available on request). As with the text, many of the images from the earlier book will be reused in this one. 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. The book will have two illustrated appendices for long-extinct species and hypothetical records. Species that have gone extinct since 1990 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 had completed 223 new bird images for this book between 2003 and 2005 before he moved to North Carolina. The project was on hold for several years when he was working for the NC Museum of Natural Science, and looked like it might never be completed when he became seriously ill in 2015. However, he is now recovered and back at work full time. He has signed a new contract with Princeton University Press, and recruited Dr. Eric VanderWerf, an expert on birds of the region, to replace Phil Bruner, who could no longer participate, as co-author in an attempt to regain some lost time.

Given the time lost, the expected publication date is likely to be 2023.

Although Dr. Pratt is now retired, additional financial support will help keep the project moving at a good pace.


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) 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. Sponsors are asked to make a 25% deposit to claim a given piece, with the balance due upon documentation of completion. Original artworks will be delivered to sponsors once they have been properly scanned.

For the plan for remaining artwork and sponsorship prices, CLICK HERE.

Below are some preliminary mockups to show how the book will look. These are rough drafts only. Some text pages will have range maps added later. Many plates will be composites of Pratt paintings from a variety of sources and new artwork.