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A Guide to the Birds of Venezuela Paperback – May 1, 1978
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
In his 997 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.", citing it as "certainly the best one available for a South American country". The subsequent works of many others invalidate that ranking, but I think many birders and ornithologists will find that the 1978 book retains value.
This 2003 Birds of Venezuela by Hilty (illustrated by Gwynne & Tudor) includes a considerably better set of plates, generally more detailed species accounts, range maps, and informative introductory text. It's about twice the thickness of the earlier "edition", and I find only eight plates not in color (covering mainly raptors in flights and swifts). As has become almost axiomatic, it's really too big to carry in the field, and enterprising birders may well separate the plates to create a guide devoted to that purpose.
Hilty's guide is a worthy successor to the 1978 guide, and it's the worthy precursor to a guide that is more compact and "field-friendly" without sacrificing utility. Until then, no birder venturing into Venezuela or Guyana should be without Steven Hilty's 2003 guide.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was in decent shape. It just was older than I thought so was real helpful.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book. This is the best book ever written about the birds of my country.Published 12 months ago by José Zambrano
Excellent book, I had been looking for years for something like this. As a bird amateur enthusiast I think it provides a great tool. Read morePublished 16 months ago by andresmercon
The best book for birding in Venezuela!. It has the best description of bird species than any other. Ideal for citizen scientific...Published on October 14, 2013 by Rafael Gianni
Book is promoted as a field guide however it is far to large and heavy for that purpose.
Plate quality is poor with faded colours, poor "Jizz" of birds and birds of... Read more
I generally like field guides to show distribution on the opposite side of the plate, but this book has so many birds in it I am not sure that would be feasible. Read morePublished on June 10, 2013 by Deborah L. Bradley