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A Guide to the Birds of Venezuela Paperback – May 1, 1978

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book can be thoroughly recommended; a must for anyone visiting any part of the Neotropics."--Natural History Book Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"The Birds of Venezuela has come of age. The first edition was a marvel when it appeared back in 1978: the first book on a South American avifauna to be accurately and beautifully illustrated, by Guy Tudor. Now Steve Hilty has given us a text to match the quality of the plates, which themselves have here been substantially expanded by John Gwynne. Good succinct behavioral and vocal information, accurate and clear distribution maps, and lots of new ID information, all combine to be just what field observers and ornithologists have wanted. It was worth the wait."--Robert Ridgely, Director, International Bird Conservation, National Audubon Society --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First edition (May 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691082057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691082059
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,337,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Sharpe on January 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I believe the earlier reviewers are mistakenly referring to the 1978 First Edition of this field guide (Meyer de Schauensee and Phelps 1978). As the first modern field guide to a South American avifauna, the original Birds of Venezuela is certainly now showing its age though it is still a remarkably useful field aid to the world's sixth largest national avifauna. The new edition - practically an entirely new field guide - is a very different kettle of fish. What makes this new edition different?
First of all, the new guide is twice as thick and the text is much more closely packed. The book now weighs in at over 1.8 kg (4 lbs) and is more along the lines of the field guide volume of the Birds of Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). Nearly a hundred new species are treated, taking the country total to 1381. Far more species are illustrated and more colour plates have been used, though eight black and white plates have been retained to depict flying raptors and swifts. We now have 67 plates compared with the previous 53 - a 25% increase. Twenty-five of the plates are entirely new with beautiful artwork primarily by John Gwynne. The new plates cover a range of taxa, with Cracids, owls, nightjars, toucans, tanagers, Fringillids, Emberizids and Icterids particularly well covered. A further four have been adapted from Birds of Panamá (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989) and one from Birds of Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986). The remaining 37 are basically the same Guy Tudor plates (and one by John Gwynne) from the old edition with some modifications.
To my mind, though, it is the text which has really benefited from this new edition - so much so that this should really be thought of as an entirely new field guide.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By R. RESTALL on March 19, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are a couple of risks of misunderstanding with regard to this book that must be made clear here. Firstly it is in no way a second edition. The only things in common with the first guide to the birds of Venezuela, by Meyer de Schauensee and Phelps Jr are the familiar old plates by Guy Tudor, the title, and the publisher. In all other respects it is completely new. Secondly, the "Grand-daddy" review here, clearly refers to the original book and not this one.
Having said that, there is little one can add to Chris Sharpe's comprehensive review except to say that I have already used Hilty's book extensively for research this year, along with the other current guides for other countries, and have found it to be the best. In my opinion it sets a new standard. The only small weakness worth noting here is the plates, but has there been a guide that is perfect in this respect?
For anybody birding in Venezuela, the book is an essential item to have along.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Hargrove VINE VOICE on September 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Steve Hilty has done an outstanding job of making sense of the incredible diversity of bird life in Venezuela. This is by far the best guide to that area that you can buy. The only shortcoming is the arrangement of the plates -- they are all grouped together separate from the text -- with a bewildering array of numbers to cross-reference to the facing page of names. If you want to read the complete text and check the range map, you have to go to another page. Fortunately, the page numbers included on the page facing the plates are accurate, simplifying the process.

The only downside for this book: it is much to bulky to carry around in the field, but there is probably nothing to be done about that given the number of birds involved. Be sure to bring a backpack if you plan to use this in the field.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Hunter on October 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review addresses:

first the 1978 A Guide to the Birds of Venezuela by Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee and William H. Phelps, Jr., with illustrations by Guy Tudor and others (which in my view merits a strong four stars), and

then the 2003 Birds of Venezuela (by Steven Hilty) (five stars).

Confusingly, Amazon treats them as editions of the same work, and reviewers here have tried to point out that nothing could be further from the truth, though Princeton University Press contributes to the confusion by including "Second Edition" in the title of the Hilty volume (and indeed a few of the plates from the 1978 volume appear to be virtually unchanged in the later work).

In his 1997 overview of Neotropical field guides Francois Vuilleumier called the 1978 guide "yet another product from the pen of the indefatigable late Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee, this time in co-authorship with his equally indefatigable late friend William H. Phelps, Jr.". He goes on to say that the "text is similar in design to the other guides that Meyer de Schauensee wrote, and, also like the other ones, largely based on museum specimens rather than on field notes". However, he points to the "superb plates by Guy Tudor and their facing page text, which are a mini field guide in themselves" to distinguish this guide from those previous works. In his endorsement of the newer Hilty volume, Robert Ridgely says that the "first edition was a marvel when it appeared back in 1978: the first book on a South American avifauna to be accurately and beautifully illustrated, by Guy Tudor".

I'm almost as obsessed with birding books as with birding, and I value my copy of the 1978 guide.
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