- Series: Mildred Wyatt-Wold Series in Ornithology
- Paperback: 760 pages
- Publisher: University of Texas Press; First Edition edition (July 15, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0292719795
- ISBN-13: 978-0292719798
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Field Guide to the Songbirds of South America: The Passerines (Mildred Wyatt-Wold Series in Ornithology) First Edition Edition
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About the Author
ROBERT S. RIDGELY, a leading ornithologist and author of A Guide to the Birds of Panama and The Birds of Ecuador, is Deputy Director of World Land Trust-US. He has served on numerous conservation-related boards, and currently is especially involved with Fundación Jocotoco in Ecuador, of which he is president.
GUY TUDOR, a MacArthur Fellow and well-known bird artist and naturalist, was the principal illustrator of A Guide to the Birds of Venezuela and A Guide to the Birds of Colombia.
Top Customer Reviews
THE REVIEW: It was hard to put this book down after receiving it in the mail. It's an impressive merger of the authors' two prior books into a single volume of plates and identification material. The size and weight of this book is well above the limits for a "field guide" and the layout of the material does not lend itself to quick field use. However, that will not prevent me from taking it with me on my next trip - especially if multiple regions are involved.
The 121 plates - taken from the prior books along with another 500+ new illustrations - are superbly done. Plumage variations are shown for the more distinct races and usually for the gender differences. Of the 1,981 birds described in the text, just over 1,500 are illustrated in the plates. And, about 1,800 are accompanied with a range map. These maps include country and state boundaries along with major rivers, which help to bring greater detail to the birds' ranges. These maps also display migrational movements with a nice touch of using two different colors to denote if the bird is austral or boreal in origin.
As noted above, not all species are illustrated, which means you will still need a regional guide for the other 500 or so birds. As a bit of irony, I had to chuckle at the Elusive Antpitta. Antpittas are notorious enough for being hard to find in the field. Well, within this book the Elusive Antpitta goes one step further - it's not illustrated, making it even more elusive. That's just not fair. Also, of the 40 species of the smaller tapaculos, only 18 are shown in the plates, although a map is supplied for each. I guess that is in keeping with their frustrating skill at remaining hidden, too.
A few other quirks with the plates are particular missing species or plumages. For example, only the female of the One-colored Becard is shown while only the male of the Cinereous Becard is included. Other more common species such as the Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner is not illustrated while some rarer birds like the Cherry-throated Tanager is. Also, the numbering of the birds is sometimes jumbled on the plate, making you search around for "#6". But, these notes are trivial in comparison to the massive amount of excellent work that is present.
Regarding the layout of the book, the plates and maps are together in the beginning third of the book. Each bird's map is on the left while the plate is on the right. Many of the birds with smaller ranges are combined onto one map. There is zero text with these plates other than the English and scientific names. The text that goes with these birds creates the last two-thirds of the book.
The text for each bird consists of a single paragraph that focuses almost entirely on description, identification, similar species, and behavioral notes that can aid with identification. Additional notes are given for distribution, habitat, and voice. The information offers excellent detail and accounts for the racial variations across the bird's range.
This book is probably good enough to cause many birders to buy two; but, for nefarious reasons. That is to cut up the second copy and to spiral-bind the plates/maps together into a smaller, more portable book. Now, I'm eagerly awaiting the future volume on non-passerines. -- (written by Jack, shown with sample pages at Avian Review, July 2009)
I've listed several related books below...
1) Birds of South America: Non-Passerines: Rheas to Woodpeckers by Erize/Mata/Rumboll, 2006
2) Birds of South America: Vol. 1 Oscine Passerines by Ridgely/Guy, 1989
3) Birds of South America: Vol. II Suboscine Passerines by Ridgely/Guy, 1994
4) A Guide to the Birds of South America by de Schauensee, 1970
5) South American Land Birds: A Photographic Aid to Identification by Dunning, 1987
6) Species of Birds of South America, The by de Schauensee, 1966
I understand the complaints that not all the species are illustrated. Thus there is some limitation to using it as a complete field guide. I haven't run into problems with finding an unillustrated species though. Since the book only covers the passerines, any birder will have to carry another guide (probably a country specific guide) anyway. But my recommendation is to lug this one along too; it is worth the weight to have such excellent plates!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good book but not incredible.