A Dictionary of Birds enlists contributions from over 280 ornithologists and other specialists from around the world. Major, authoritative articles cover the field of modern ornithology and related subjects, many of them running to several thousand words. In addition there are articles on all the bird families, almost all of which are illustrated by a representative species. There are also numerous short entries defining special terms, application of names, etc. The total gives a text of over 800,000 words, supported by more than 500 photographs, drawings and diagrams.
The photographs have been selected under the guidance of Eric Hosking to illustrate different activities of birds, and Robert Gillmor has assembled a collection of over 200 drawings of birds, almost all of which were specially drawn for the Dictionary.
Compiled for the British Ornithologists' Union, this new work is in line of succession from Newton's A Dictionary of Birds of 1896 and Landsborough Thomson's A New Dictionary of Birds published in 1964 (2nd impression 1965) and now long out of print. This new dictionary, encyclopaedic in treatment, is destined to be a major reference in any ornithologist's library; and its editors and contributors, most of whom gave their time and knowledge freely, have earned the thanks and acclaim of users for many years to come.
Frances James, President of the American Ornithologists' Union, writes in her preface of "the role the dictionary will play in fostering communications among nations. For students it will serve as an entrance to the present status of the field. For scientists it will serve as a research tool and a bridge between disciplines."