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Best bird guides by region...Central and South America (1 Viewer)

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
The problem of suggesting books for a thread like this is that the thread becomes outdated pretty quick. But OK, Garrigues and Dean for Costa Rica, Raffaele et al for West Indies, Kennefick et al for Trinidad and Tobago, and Jaramillo for Chile.

Lars Jonsson for Europe still has a pretty big spot in my heart.

Niels
 

BrightonBirder

Well-known member
Mexico (and south to Honduras excluding the moskita coast)- Howell and Webb
Antarctica - Shirihai
Chile, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego - Jaramillo et al.
 

wintibird

André Weiss
Opus Editor
For Peru I would say "Birds of Peru" by Thomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O'Neill and the late Theodore A. Parker III

André
 

Jim M.

Choose Civility
Best guides available for the following areas IMO:

Ecuador
: The Birds of Ecuador (Vol. II -- Field Guide) by Ridgely & Greenfield (2001). Too large to use in the field (some bind the plates separately), but high quality text, plates, and maps (though maps are separate from plates). Volume I has more extended discussion of Status, Distribution, and Taxonomy, plus introductory materials providing an overview.

(More detailed information on books also recommended above):

Costa Rica: The Birds of Costa Rica by Garrigues and Dean (2007). Nice, compact modern-style field guide, with quality text, plates, and maps altogether. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Stiles and Skutch (1989) is a large, old-style guide but still useful as a reference because it has more extended textual discussion and info than the G&D book.

Mexico and N. Central America (Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, plus): A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America by Howell & Webb (1995). Very high quality and extended textual discussion of ID issues, accurate plates, and maps. But too large for the field, and old-style with maps separate from plates. Some bind the plates separately. Covers countries mentioned plus parts of Honduras and Nicaragua.

Jim

[Edited to make clearer I'm agreeing these are the best available guides even though I mention drawbacks.]
 
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njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I agree Howell and Webb is not ideal and that the size could be better, but I have used the book on two different trips: it is still the one I would bring, even if it is necessary to have a rucksack to carry it. I strongly believe that for me there is no real alternative at the moment.

Niels
 

James Lowther

Well-known member
Birds of Belize by Jones and Gardner is pretty good.

The area covered is completely enclosed by the Howell and Webb area, however the Belize book has the advantage for europeans etc. of illustrating all the nearctic migrants. And is much smaller.

also useful in other parts of the yucatan peninsula (mexico and northern guatemala).

agree with birds of peru (schulenberg et al) and particularly birds of chile (jaramillo) which is a really excellent field guide in my opinion, with a good taxonomy section at the end although it doesn't really cover the following splits and new species so watch out!

patagonian forest earthcreeper
ticking doradito
puerto montt storm petrel

cheers,
james
 

MJB

Well-known member
I agree Howell and Webb is not ideal and that the size could be better, but I have used the book on two different trips: it is still the one I would bring, even if it is necessary to have a rucksack to carry it. I strongly believe that for me there is no real alternative at the moment. Niels

Niels,
I found that the written descriptions in Howell & Webb were of enormous assistance in the field, especially when viewing raptors.
MJB
 

BirdingCristina

avis fanaticus confirmavimus
Personally, I at times like the Stiles & Skutch guide to Costa Rica better then the Garrigues & Dean. I find some of the latter's drawings to be occasionally not very true-to-life as to what you will actually see in the field (e.g. Red-Billed Pigeon). I recommend acquiring both guides if possible; if you can't and you don't wish to be overburdened by books while on your trip, the Garrigues one is a good choice, but remember that you will only be identifying the birds as opposed to truly learning about their life, subspecies, etc., which is what you will do with the Stiles & Skutch guide.
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
.......Garrigues one is a good choice, but remember that you will only be identifying the birds as opposed to truly learning about their life, subspecies, etc., which is what you will do with the Stiles & Skutch guide.

Since one mostly has trouble keeping the weight of the luggage under the allowed limit, any addional info on the birds must by necessity stay behind for the trip. Thus the other info needs to be studied prior to or after the trip.

It used to be customary for many avid birders to take apart those oversized so called FGs which were rather small handbooks at times. So the two-volume solution for many parts of South America is a sensible way to have all the info, but allowing one to concentrate on the ID part when necessary.
 
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stonechat1

New member
Anyone knows why the Helm FG for Costa Rica has 29 pages more then the Zona Tropical version? Talking about the FG by Garrigues and Dean. TIA.

BTW, does anyone know a website/source where it´s possible to see some plates from the Mexico FG? Would like to buy it but without seeing the content I hesitate. And is there no newer FG for this area since this 1995 print (don´t want to visit the country yet, book is just an upgrading of my ornithological library).
 
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njlarsen

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I have the Zona Tropical version, and it has XXVI pages in the introduction before the normal numbering kicks in, and with the normal numbering there are 387 pages and an extra black page at the end. Does that help?

Regarding Mexico, I am not sure which book you are referring to. Those answers I have seen all state that Howell and Web still is the best Mexico book out there, but that you will need to supplement it with a US field guide especially in migration and winter.

Niels
 

stonechat1

New member
I have the Zona Tropical version, and it has XXVI pages in the introduction before the normal numbering kicks in, and with the normal numbering there are 387 pages and an extra black page at the end. Does that help?
Thanks Niels, I thought that the content must be the same because also the front cover is the same. The I´ll go with the Zona Tropical version too.

Regarding Mexico, I am not sure which book you are referring to. Those answers I have seen all state that Howell and Web still is the best Mexico book out there, but that you will need to supplement it with a US field guide especially in migration and winter.
Niels
Correct, that´s the book I meant (don´t wanted to puzzle you), but because only this one has been mentioned for Mexico I didn´t assume that my question may be confusing. Don´t worry about the US, there are three books in the shelf which are covering this part of North America very fine. ;)

Regards,
Roman
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
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Roman, maybe I could supplement with saying last time I used my Howell and Webb was last year in Yucatan, and I still think it does a very fine job.

Niels
 

Leon Vlieger

Active member
BTW, does anyone know a website/source where it´s possible to see some plates from the Mexico FG? Would like to buy it but without seeing the content I hesitate. And is there no newer FG for this area since this 1995 print (don´t want to visit the country yet, book is just an upgrading of my ornithological library).

For what it's worth, I have made some internal scans for this field guide.

http://www.nhbs.com/_bkfno_28905.html
 

Alf King

Well-known member
How about Cuba?

Is the West Indies field guide sufficient or would people recommend the Cuba specific guide?
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
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Barbados
Alf,
somehow overlooked this question. I do not know the answer, but the West Indies book by Raffaele has done a fine job elsewhere I have been. There is also a dedicated Cuba book that might have some better info on relative abundance.

Niels
 

Two Jugs

Well-known member
Regarding Cuba, the Garrido/Kirkconnell Field Guide is a great book to have when birding in Cuba. It does, however, suffer from several serious usability issues for a field guide. It is also getting a bit dated.
1. It is rather large for a field guide, considering the number of species covered.
2. The inclusion of vagrant species in the main body of text causes it to be too long. I counted 80 species (including two extinct) that could have been treated separately at the end of the main text. The extinct species even have their own colour plate.
3. The index should also have been divided into three separate indices, English, Spanish and scientific names. The current index is very difficult to use.
4. The reverse side of each colour plate is wasted with a greyscale copy of the facing colour plate. This has resulted in the book having double the number of plates actually required.
5. The plates numbers are tucked away on the inner margin, making it impossible to find an illustration in a hurry. I renumbered my copy on the outer edges.
6. The text on the plate does not give the page number of the corresponding text for each species, so a trip to the index is required again.

Tony Johnson
 

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