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A Guide to the Birds of Panama: With Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras Paperback – June 15, 1992

35 customer reviews

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A Guide to the Birds of Panama: With Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras + The Birds of Panama: A Field Guide (Zona Tropical Publications) + A Bird-Finding Guide to Panama
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A sophisticated treatment of one of the world's richest avifaunas."--Quarterly Review of Biology

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 2 edition (June 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691025126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691025124
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By V. Burgett on June 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ridgely's guide is the best - and really the only - available field guide covering all the species of birds in the nation of Panama. While it is useful and serves most purposes, it has been over a decade since the second edition was released, and it is more than due for an overhaul and expansion. The most necessary would be the addition of range maps, that would make the book infinitely more useful in planning a trip. At the very least, there should be a single, detailed map of Panama, indicating the locations mentioned in the range descriptions! Also, it would be better to limit the scope of the book entirely to Panama, as Costa Rica and other areas to the north are covered by other guides, and the pertinent information for those areas in this book are scant, at best. Then, the isolated plates in the back need to be intergrated, as do the plates of Darien specialties, etc. Many species have been recently added to the Panama list, or split, etc, and those species need to be added. But, all this aside, this book should enable the identification of most Panama birds, and remains an indispensible resource for any birder traveling to that country.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good, standard guidebook with beautiful bird plates. It is, however, somewhat awkward to have the plates divided into two groups at different places in the book. Three chapters ("Migration and Local Movements", Recent Developments...", and "Finding Birds in Panama") were especially interesting and helpful. The chapter "Finding Birds in Panama" was very accurate and useful to me. I wish I had purchased this guidebook before my earlier birding trips to Costa Rica. It is an important book for the entire region.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Cedric Kinschots on February 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
I visit Panama at least once a year, and this book is the first thing I pack for every trip. There's simply no other field guide out there. Although the book is over due for a thorough update (of both taxonomy and range reports), it's still the best source for identifying birds in Panama. All the guides and researchers that I've met over the years use this book. One of the most useful parts is the section that describes the best birding spots in Panama, as most of these places have remained largely unchanged. The plates are very good, more than adequate.

The book's a bit on the heavy side though. I usually go out birding for an entire day (6 am to 6 pm) carrying water, food, a camera and heavy telephoto lens, a tripod and binoculars. Even so, I've always resisted cutting out the plates, and end up taking the whole thing with me into the jungle. If the publisher were to make available a separate smaller booklet with only the plates, I'd definitely buy it. My back would be very grateful indeed!

Conclusion: If you're planning a birdwatching trip to Panama, you NEED this book!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Allison on August 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
The text in this book is excellent, with good descriptions of the various species and nice writeups of behavioral habits. However if you want to use the book as a field guide to identify the birds you are seeing, there are some flaws that make this hard to do:

1. Not all birds are represented in the color plates. None of the 15 swift species, for example, get an entry on the plates.

2. Some birds have no picture at all, not even a black and white line drawing in the text. Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, for example.

3. The index is incomplete. Try finding a saltator in the index.

4. There are two sets of plates. Most birds are in the first set, but there is a seemingly arbitrary set of birds relegated to "additional" plates near the back of the book. This makes it hard to do the tried and true method of scanning plates to help you quickly identify the bird you just saw.

So as a field guide this book probably merits only 3 stars. But to be fair it's not labeled as a field guide, but rather a "Guide to the Birds of Panama." Given the high quality of the text, it fills that role nicely.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Marcus G. Martin on April 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
It remains the only guide specific to the birds of Panama so a birder headed to that country has almost no choice but to buy a copy. However, this is a 1989 update to a work originally completed in 1974 and it is sorely lacking many features that are incorporated into the "modern" field guides published in the last decade.

Significant problems with this book that hopefully a future Panama bird guide will address:
1) There are no range maps showing the distribution of species in Panama. There is a text description of the range for each bird, but this is vastly inferior to a map, especially for someone who is visiting Panama.
2) Immature birds are not illustrated, and females are poorly illustrated: often with just a drawing of the head. The coverage for the Euphonias is especially poor with no illustration of the commonly encountered immature male Thick-billed Euphonia (looks like the female, but with the black mask and yellow head spot of the adult male), and only a head illustration for the male Tawny-capped Euphonia without any illustration of the female Tawny-capped Euphonia to assist in distinguishing it from the similar (illustrated) female Fulvous-vented Euphonia. Female hummingbirds are also mostly absent, or only shown with an illustration of the head.
3) The paperback version has an extremely heavy binding and is too heavy for all but the most athletic birders to take into the field. I saw many people who had resorted to cutting the illustrative plates out of the book, binding those, and carrying that into the field. If you are planning to stay at any hotel billing itself as a birdwatching site then you don't even need to bring this book with you to Panama as you will be better served browsing a hotel copy at the end of your day.
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A Guide to the Birds of Panama: With Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras
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