| A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil | By Ber van Perlo | Oxford University Press USA | 2009 | Paperback | 465 pages | 187 colour plates | 1791 maps | 5 line illustrations | ISBN: 9780195301557 | £28.99p |
Brazil’s bird diversity is one of the richest in the world. And yet there has never been a comprehensive field guide to this splendid and elusive avifauna. Until now! The carefully vetted text and images are the first to cover the full range of bird life in this vast and varied country. This long-awaited guide covers more than 1800 up-to-date accounts that treat the Yellow-nosed Albatross to the Sombre Hummingbird, the Ash-throated Gnat-eater to the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Nighthawks and Jacamars to Motmots, Puffbirds, and Peppershrikes. Every species and many subspecies found in each region of Brazil-with special attention naturally given to the 218 Brazilian endemics.
The book is laid out so that the illustrations sit across from the commentary and the distribution maps, so it is easy to use. Also, the author uses short-hand notation throughout, to make the book compact and relatively easy to carry when in the field. For each bird, the scientific, English, and Portuguese name are given as well as detailed information on measurement; identifying features; habitat; voice, song, and call. Distribution maps show the range for each species, also indicating seasonality and occurrence, essential for finding and identifying specific birds.
From the equatorial North to the tropics, the introductory paragraphs set the stage in describing Brazil’s varied biogeography, climate, geomorphology, and natural vegetation. A list of protected areas of Brazil, information on relevant national and international organisations, a bibliography and further references, and an English-Portuguese dictionary of frequently used terms enhance the user-friendly qualities. Anyone wishing to fully explore the fabulously varied bird life of Brazil will find this light-weight, easy-to-use, attractive guide an invaluable field companion
While some of the illustrations are a little garish and the small size means less detail this is ameliorated by the fact this is a fieldguide and, essentially, a way to recognise birds and split them from their similar cousins and it is certainly more than adequate for that purpose. When you peruse your shelves and take a look at the Latin American fieldguides they are all enormous! Despite the fact that Brazil is the biggest country and has one of the longest lists of birds this book is less than half the size of many others!