Birds of Chile
Birds of Chile by Alvaro
Jaramillo Illustrated by Peter Burke & David Beadle - Helm Field Guides Nov 2003. ISBN 0713646888 £19.99
This is, as the publisher`s blurb says, the first fully comprehensive Field-guide to the whole of Chile and its more than 470 species [including 9 endemics]. Hardly surprising as the country being half the length of a continent; spanning rainforest to tundra, dessert to plain. What is more it also covers some of the sub-Antarctic islands such as South Georgia and the Falklands. It sets a terrific standard which Helm will do well to follow and is very similar to the newly published Northern India Guide recently published.
It is, like its Northern Indian fellow, a real field guide, small enough for field trips, indeed, small and light enough for a wide pocket. To manage such portability the formula is to keep text to a minimum. There are some useful opening pages covering everything in miniature from conservation and taxonomy to ecology and geography. It doesn`t give the thumbnail treaties on bird families which are in the Northern India book which is a shame as many first-time visitors to this most bird rich continent will be unfamiliar with very many families as well as the species which populate them.
The Bulk of the book [pages
28 to 220 out of 240] are a series of coloured plates opposite which are the brief text notes and surprisingly detailed distribution
maps. I will not quibble over the illustrations as they are adequate. Many are very good indeed but I fail to see how dark background
colour on some plates help… it might be an attempt to show that some are likely to be seen deep in forest in poor light, but I doubt
it unless one can predict light conditions at sea. When one has birds of brown and russet hues one does not want dark tan backgrounds
However, this is still a terrific addition to the birder`s library and would definitely be my first choice were I to get to go to Chile.
Created: 5th Dec 2003