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Best bird guides by region...Central and South America

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Old Thursday 24th December 2015, 13:11   #51
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Wow. I need too many books for this trip. I'll need to compromise and miss some out as I'm backpacking and can't carry so many books without major inconvenience. Bah.
The relatively new & somewhat compact guide to the birds of Nicaragua (http://www.nhbs.com/title/204760/a-g...a-guia-de-aves) might be worthy of consideration. It covers more than 750 species in a country that has a fair share of species ranging southward from Mexico and other species ranging northward from Costa Rica and Panama. The Van Perlo illustrated checklist should probably be in your backpack, but I would personally feel ill-prepared without the plates from Howell & Webb and at least one of the compact guides from southern Central America.

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Old Thursday 24th December 2015, 20:12   #52
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Thanks Jim. That might be the answer. Will have to check it out.

Although I may just buy one for Central America in order to save on weight. I'll be backpacking most of the time so weight is important.

Thanks again
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Old Thursday 24th December 2015, 21:06   #53
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Van Perlo is the obvious single choice if weight is important. The book is pretty good in my opinion, though the individual bird depictions are on the smallish side. And there are range maps for the whole area.

Here is the link for US Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/069...s=books&sr=1-1

It runs as a "Princeton Illustrated Checklist", whereas in Europe it is a "Collins" book.
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Old Thursday 24th December 2015, 21:23   #54
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I think I will get that one actually, yes. When I get to CR, I expect to be able to pick up another guide if needed.

Thanks for your help Swissboy, Jim et al.
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Old Friday 5th February 2016, 13:36   #55
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The Birds of Mexico and Central America has been perfect for this trip. Very compact. I wouldn't have wanted to take another guide as size and weigh tis important to me on this trip.

Great advice.

Sometimes a bit hard to find a bird I've seen in there due to the sheer numbers per page but still the best choice when visiting so many countries. I'll be travelling in every country from Mexico to Panama. Currently in San Salvador. So many birds.
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Old Wednesday 22nd June 2016, 21:58   #56
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The WCS guide to SE Brazil Atlantic Forest now seems to be available. Has anybody seen a copy? If the illustrations are decent, this will presumably become the default field guide for this important region.
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Old Wednesday 22nd June 2016, 22:05   #57
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The WCS guide to SE Brazil Atlantic Forest now seems to be available. Has anybody seen a copy? If the illustrations are decent, this will presumably become the default field guide for this important region.
I have a copy. It's a little larger than their guide for the Pantanal & Cerrado since it covers more species, but still light enough to carry in the field. Same generally high quality with extensive textual accounts and easy to read range maps.

Illustrations are of high quality. I believe the passerine illustrations are all from Guy Tudor's work in the Songbirds of South America. The non-passerine illustrations are mostly from other artists; some of it is not quite the quality of Tudor's work, but still good.

My only real gripes about the book are lack of a quick index, a stiff binding, and lack of bold subheadings within the long species accounts. But regardless these regional guides are clearly the best Brazil guides out there at the moment imo.
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Old Wednesday 22nd June 2016, 22:11   #58
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Thanks for the review, Jim - sounds good, and pleased that the passerine illustrations are Guy Tudor's. It's relatively cheap, so I'll get a copy.
Cheers, Duncan
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Old Friday 8th July 2016, 13:17   #59
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Ecuador

There is a discussion concerning bird books for Ecuador here: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....64#post3424864
No need to repeat it all in this thread. But it started with the new photo-based book for western Ecuador.
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Old Wednesday 26th October 2016, 17:37   #60
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It would seem that publication of the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America is imminent. I have not seen any of the plates or species accounts featured in this book but it will surely be a welcome update to Howell (1995).
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Old Wednesday 26th October 2016, 17:46   #61
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It would seem that publication of the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America is imminent. I have not seen any of the plates or species accounts featured in this book but it will surely be a welcome update to Howell (1995).
All depending on the quality. The Howell and Web is still a very good book.

Niels
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Old Thursday 27th October 2016, 20:36   #62
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All depending on the quality. The Howell and Web is still a very good book.

Niels
Never been able to use it in the field. A more compact book would definitely be welcome though. But I agree that quality is of paramount importance.
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Old Friday 4th November 2016, 18:49   #63
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Peru: Not a book but in app form: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bird...088336630?mt=8
This is a collaboration between Princeton Field Guides and BirdsEye Nature Apps so builds on the Schulenberg et al field guide, and the taxonomy is updated to current Clements taxonomy. Only for apple product at this time.

I do not have it but would certainly consider before traveling to Peru.
Niels
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Old Friday 4th November 2016, 20:20   #64
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Peru: Not a book but in app form: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bird...088336630?mt=8
..................I do not have it but would certainly consider before traveling to Peru.
Niels
Well, I'm very old-fashioned and don't have a smart phone, so maybe my opinion does not count. But there are reasons why such phones have had limited appeal to me so far. Though there will be a time when I will no longer be able to get around.
In the specific case of apps instead of a book, here is why I think such apps can only be an addition (for voices) but not a sole FG. What if the batteries run empty? Most phones don't foresee a battery change (unlike cameras), even less so in the field. And countries like Peru hardly have lots of power outlets outside the hotels that one could quickly use. But my major reason for being reluctant is the fact that books can be leafed-through much more easily and they provide a more relaxed overview, particularly when comparing species. A full page on a small screen just is not what my eyes can work with.
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Old Saturday 5th November 2016, 00:03   #65
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Well, I'm very old-fashioned and don't have a smart phone, so maybe my opinion does not count. But there are reasons why such phones have had limited appeal to me so far. Though there will be a time when I will no longer be able to get around.
In the specific case of apps instead of a book, here is why I think such apps can only be an addition (for voices) but not a sole FG. What if the batteries run empty? Most phones don't foresee a battery change (unlike cameras), even less so in the field. And countries like Peru hardly have lots of power outlets outside the hotels that one could quickly use. But my major reason for being reluctant is the fact that books can be leafed-through much more easily and they provide a more relaxed overview, particularly when comparing species. A full page on a small screen just is not what my eyes can work with.
Robert, I do not necessarily disagree, but I think this is worth mentioning in this thread for two reasons:
1) I was not aware that an app existed for Peru
2) the taxonomy in the app is more up to date than the book it was based on.

Regarding charging of devices: there are solar panel devices made for that purpose
Additionally, my Sibley app for NA is used on my ipad mini, not on a phone most of the time.

Niels
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Old Saturday 5th November 2016, 10:07   #66
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Robert, I do not necessarily disagree, but I think this is worth mentioning in this thread for two reasons:
1) I was not aware that an app existed for Peru
2) the taxonomy in the app is more up to date than the book it was based on.

Regarding charging of devices: there are solar panel devices made for that purpose
Additionally, my Sibley app for NA is used on my ipad mini, not on a phone most of the time.

Niels
By no means did I want to say that the app should not have been mentioned! I just think one needs to also see the limitations of such apps. I have one on all the flowering plants of Switzerland (cost me over $100), but I also have the less updated book that is rather bulky to take into the field. Yet I see myself using the book so much more than the app (which I also use on a compact tablet). The one area the app really excels are the much more detailed range maps. Whereas the updated systematics only confuse, particularly when one already has a pretty good idea what flower it might be.
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Old Saturday 5th November 2016, 10:42   #67
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It would seem that publication of the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America is imminent. I have not seen any of the plates or species accounts featured in this book but it will surely be a welcome update to Howell (1995).
The book is out now, and my first impressions can be found here:
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....41#post3479241
see post #14, includes some scans.
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Old Monday 21st May 2018, 23:17   #68
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This just came to my attention, a new guide to all of Central America is apparently forthcoming:

Birds of Central America: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama
by
Andrew Vallely and Dale Dyer

https://www.amazon.com/Birds-Central...entral+america

https://press.princeton.edu/titles/13253.html
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Old Tuesday 22nd May 2018, 05:50   #69
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Birds of Venezuela Field Guides

Does anyone have any comments about FG's for birds of Venezuela?

Amazon List (May 2018).
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Old Tuesday 22nd May 2018, 12:25   #70
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Does anyone have any comments about FG's for birds of Venezuela?

Amazon List (May 2018).
Both are overall excellent books. The newer Ascanio guide has current taxonomy and new species, illustrates ALL species and for most several plumages, and has up to date ranges. However the Hilty guide, despite being a bit out of date and having incomplete art, has what I would say is far better and more realistic art and more detailed natural history. If you were to choose one, probably the Ascanio guide will serve you better overall. However if you aren’t already familiar with Neotropical bird families you might not immediately relate the somewhat flat art, all drawn in one posture from skins, to what you see in the field.
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Old Tuesday 22nd May 2018, 12:27   #71
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One other comment - the art in Ascanio is essentially the same as that in Restall’s Birds of Norhern South America, if you have seen that volume.
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Old Tuesday 22nd May 2018, 14:58   #72
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Both are overall excellent books. The newer Ascanio guide has current taxonomy and new species, illustrates ALL species and for most several plumages, and has up to date ranges. However the Hilty guide, despite being a bit out of date and having incomplete art, has what I would say is far better and more realistic art and more detailed natural history. If you were to choose one, probably the Ascanio guide will serve you better overall. However if you aren’t already familiar with Neotropical bird families you might not immediately relate the somewhat flat art, all drawn in one posture from skins, to what you see in the field.
Thank you for your suggestions.
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Old Tuesday 22nd May 2018, 16:16   #73
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One other comment - the art in Ascanio is essentially the same as that in Restall’s Birds of Norhern South America, if you have seen that volume.
Avoid then....that artwork is amongst the worst I've ever seen....has Restall ever seen a live bird? I've the misfortune of having to use the Trinidad and Tobago guide shortly and am amazed this crap can pass any sort of publisher's scrutiny.....
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Old Tuesday 22nd May 2018, 19:38   #74
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Avoid then....that artwork is amongst the worst I've ever seen....has Restall ever seen a live bird? I've the misfortune of having to use the Trinidad and Tobago guide shortly and am amazed this crap can pass any sort of publisher's scrutiny.....
Notwithstanding that assessment, I find Restall's artwork quite satisfactory, and have no qualms relying on the new guide as my primary field reference in Ecuador (while discarding neither McMullan/Navarrete from the field bag nor Ridgely/Greenfield from the lodge room). Not that I'd impose that choice on anyone else.

The species accounts (presumably all by Freile) are necessarily concise but attentive to ID considerations.
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Old Wednesday 23rd May 2018, 11:23   #75
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As mentioned previously, the new Freile / Restall Birds of Ecuador uses the same art also. I have the new VZ guide but between the McMullan and Ridgely works for Ecuador didn’t feel the need for a third.
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