Customer Reviews: Birds of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire (Princeton Field Guides)
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on October 19, 2012
The Dutch or Netherlands Antilles have long been overlooked as field guides go. As they lie close to Venezuela they have been ignored by the Caribbean guides and as they are not part of Venezuela they have been ignored in those guides. The islands themselves are a holiday destination so this guide comes as a welcome addition to the many avifauna guides.

The introduction covers the history of the islands then there are pages on general flora and fauna, avifauna, how to use the book and birding topography. Each of the islands gets a page with a map covering the special birding areas. A few notes about conservation law and the first Ramsar sites in the western hemisphere and a few paragraphs about local names.

Next are the 70 plates and species accounts. Each plate is faced with text. Names is English and Latin are given with local names for Ar, Bon, Cur and in Dutch. Descriptions and identification hints follow with specific ID points in bold text. Description of Voice is covered followed by Habits and Habitat. Status covers breeding and migration for the islands and there are some notes where relevant about taxonomy.

After the plates there is an appendix of escaped and introduced birds followed by a checklist of the areas species and which islands they occur on.

For me the artwork is a bit sub-par considering Robin Restalls rather good work in Munias and Mannikins, there are examples of some quite nice work with the passerines, especially the Warblers, but some of the other plates have some inconsistent work, though most of the features will still aid in identification there are a few discrepancies. That said there is plenty of artwork for the many subspecies one would encounter. The Frigatebirds, Boobies, Skuas, Jaegers, Gulls and Terns get a lot of artwork covering the many morphs, plumages, etc. The three subspecies of Black Skimmer are well covered as are the subspecies of Black-whiskered and Red-eyed Vireo.

There is much to like about this book and much that was needed in the coverage of the avifauna of these islands. Though some of the artwork is a bit spotty in quality and there are no range maps, though for three small islands is this really necessary, I think this is a valuable addition to the avian book genre. Anyone with a chance to visit the islands will need to take this guide.

The link below is for Robin Restall's other work which has nothing to do with the islands but shows the quality of his artwork.

Munias and Mannikins
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on March 16, 2012
A review taken from my website:

The introduction begins with a nice summary of the islands' geological and human histories as well as a bit about their climate. We are then introduced to the general flora and fauna of the islands and then the avifauna. The next few pages are occupied by the ever-present "How to use this book" section, followed by a few illustrations of bird topography. Between the intro and plates, is a section on the islands and their birding sites (a nice surprise), with a separate map (labeled) and description for each island.

We then reach the plates, which follow the commonly used description (no range maps) and distribution on left, illustrations on the right. Each species receives a short description "with key identification features highlighted in bold italics," followed by descriptions of voice, habitat and status and distribution, plus alternate names (not present for every species). Length is provided in centimeters and wingspan is given for a limited number of species.

The plates are done by Robin Restall, whom you may be familiar with as the author of Birds of Northern South America. The book claims to have nearly 1,000 illustrations, many of which are taken from his other book.

The plates are then directly followed by a short appendix that lists a few occasional escapes that may be encountered. A handy checklist to the birds of the island follows. Each island is contained in a separate column with an added column for GTS (Globally Threatened Species) whose IUCN Red List code is marked. The book wraps up with a bibliography and index.

I should add that this book has a sharp European flair to it, with all measurements in centimeters and a few words spelled differently (i.e. Tricoloured Heron).

Pros, Cons, Summary:


-Every species, no matter how rare, receives illustrations of all plumages and subspecies that occur (or might someday) on the islands. This is especially helpful as we still have a cloudy avian knowledge of the islands and it is useful for every visiting birder to have as much information as possible while there.

-Descriptions and other text in the plate area is generally good and to-the-point.

-It's nice to know each species' name in the local tongue (provided in the plates)

-The section on the islands and their birding sites is a nice addition

-This book is small and compact and is definitely useable in the field


-Don't expect the illustrations in the plates to be on par with any of our North American (illustrated) field guides. Most generally leave a lot to be desired and some are just plain awful (plate 16 for example). Oddly enough, the passerine illustrations are superior to those of all the non-passerines in this book and many are quite decent. Still, you won't get a lot of enjoyment out of the plates.

-On the back cover, this book claims to be the "First-ever comprehensive field guide to the birds of the Lesser Antilles." This book does not even cover the geographical Lesser Antilles which extend roughly from the Virgin Islands to Grenada. Furthermore, even if this book did cover the Lesser Antilles, Birds of the West Indies by Raffaele et. al is a very comprehensive resource to the region. Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire are commonly known as the "Netherland Antilles." Perhaps this is what the authors were referring to?

-I see no reason why measurements should not be in inches also. Sixty-one percent of the visitors to Aruba's airport in 2005 were American, and there is no reason why the majority should have to do the conversions.

-Although I noted that the section on the islands and their birding sites is a nice addition, it really does leave a lot to be desired. It is quite short for each island (around half of a page) and there is not much information of what birds (especially the islands' specialties) are present at the sites. Perhaps a later addition could add just a few more pages and be a fairly good combined field guide/site guide.

-A few grammatical mistakes are present, and a few sentences in the intro and appendix seem totally unnecessary and unhelpful


Please don't be fooled into thinking this book is worthless due to the fact that I listed more negatives than positives. I tend to do that. In short, this book is a must for any serious birder visiting these three islands and likely all one will need for bird identification. The illustrations and descriptions do their job and shouldn't present any problems and there are some nice, helpful tidbits scattered around. I look forward to using this field guide myself one day.

Addendum: I really would give this item 3 1/2 stars if possible. I hate the illustrations but think the text is suitable and like the tidbits at the beginning. Oh well, guess I'll give it four.
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on May 4, 2016
Used during our trip in February to help identify birds seen. Extremely helpful. There are many birds in Aruba which we do not have in the United States so my birding apps and books were not useful there. this book was great. It shows what the birds look like, and which islands they are found (and not found) on. Also places to bird.
While our primary purpose in Aruba was not bird watching, we ended up seeing and enjoying many birds because of this book. If you are a bird watcher and are going to Aruba, you should get this book and take it with you.
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on January 12, 2015
While 'some' of the illustrations are not up to the quality of Peterson or much of the Nat'l Geo. guide, they are still good (in some cases VERY good) and the FG is well done and easy to use. It made confirming bird IDs in Aruba much easier. Suggestion for the authors: Perhaps 3 thin lines below the text for each species displaying the monthly distribution of the birds for each island. That would really help. This IS a well done field guide that was indispensable on our last trip, and is well worth buying.
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on September 6, 2013
The book was a real help when I went to Bonaire. I used the book to photo and identify several species of Bonaire birds.
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on December 11, 2013
this is exactly the book that I was looking for! I love being able to ID the birds I have photographed.
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on December 2, 2013
As a birder this book was very useful for my day excursions while on a cruise! I birded Bonaire and Curacao and got over 50 of the species listed!
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on August 27, 2014
The illustrations are a little primitive. There are no maps, which is not a huge problem since it covers only 3 islands. There are no helpful arrows pointing out the feature one should be looking for to tell the species apart. Laughably, if a bird was seen even once on one of the islands, it is listed. But it is better than nothing.
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on February 4, 2014
Had no trouble finding and identifying the common birds of the island. The illustrations were clear and the text gave the necessary information to help with identification.
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on October 8, 2014
Great guide for birders who visit Aruba, Bonaire and/or Curacao. Good descriptions and drawings. Handy size booklet.
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