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

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
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
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
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.
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
Peru: Not a book but in app form: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/birds-of-peru/id1088336630?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.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
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
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
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.
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
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.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
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.
 

Crusty

Well-known member
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.
 

birdboybowley

Well-known member.....apparently so ;)
Supporter
England
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.....
 

gdhunter

Well-known member
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.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
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.
 

gdhunter

Well-known member
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.

Freile claims it's the first attempt to depict every subspecies occurring in Ecuador. I've found McMullan useful for on-the-fly straightforward ID, but less so for subtle distinctions.
 

cajanuma

Well-known member
One plus of the Hilty VZ guide is that the text contains some nuggets of unparallelled literary brilliance, at least for a bird book. Here is the description of the voice of the Little Nightjar: "Memorable song consists of a few short notes followed by a fast, bubbly trill 'pik-you, gobble, gobble, gobble' at short intervals. Notes are complex yet delicate, almost dainty as if dancing in silvery spaces of light on moonfilled nights. It is an eerily fascinating serenade, coming as if from an unearthly spirit that has been set loose among us, toying with us, ever tantalizing yet unattainable"

His 1986 Colombia guide - the greatest bird book ever written IMHO - also contains similar gems
 

gdhunter

Well-known member
One plus of the Hilty VZ guide is that the text contains some nuggets of unparallelled literary brilliance, at least for a bird book.

The species accounts compiled by Ascanio & Rodriguez (?)are somewhat more substantial than Hilty's facing page plate descriptions, but never reach literary brilliance.
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
New FG for Nicaragua

Zona Tropical has published a new FG for Nicaragua. I wrote a brief review: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=362364
No need to repeat it here. But its conclusion is that this is a FG that can be highly recommended.

It will be interesting to compare it with the upcoming FG for the whole region:
Birds of Central America: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama

by

Andrew Vallely and Dale Dyer
 
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Crusty

Well-known member
I purchased a used copy of Birds of Venezuela, 2nd ed. (Hilty, Gwynne & Tudor, 2003). The book arrived on my doorstep yesterday. The condition is very good for a used book. Initially, my interest in birds of Venezuela started when I added William Henry Hudson titles to my personal library.

Back to Birds of Venezuela (Hilty, Gwynne & Tudor, 2003).

Hilty's text reads well -- and I find the illustrations by Gwynne and Tutor to be equally nice. I look forward to spending time in this reference book as I combine my reading of Hudson with Hilty.
 
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