Cotingas and Manakins by Guy Kirwan & Graeme Green | Christopher Helm | 2011 | | Hardcover | ISBN: 9780713660258 | 624 pages | 34 colour plates | 400+ colour photos | colour distribution maps

A gorgeously illustrated guide to these colourful birds…

What the Publisher Says:

The New World tropics possess the richest avifauna on Earth, with more than 4000 recorded species, many of which are endemic. Two groups found exclusively in this region are the cotingas and the manakins. Few other families of birds have such widespread appeal; they are much sought-after by birdwatchers for their colourful displays, unusual plumages and, in some cases, great rarity. For scientists, their natural history and behaviour provide fascinating case studies that yield important data in the quest to understand evolutionary biology, while, for taxonomists, elucidating their relationships has proved at times fascinatingly elusive, with many novel and unusual developments.

Two decades ago the species covered in this book were generally considered to comprise two families, but ongoing molecular work has revealed much about the relationships of these birds. One new family has been erected (the Tityridae) and another more widely recognised (Oxyruncidae). These and other results spawned principally by genetic research mean that this diverse assemblage of species is now considered to belong to at least five different families.

This book represents the definitive work on these jewels of the Neotropics, looking in detail at more than l30 species.

They range from some of the rarest and most enigmatic birds in the world to some of the best-studied of all tropical species; many are breathtakingly colourful and ornate, but some are dowdy and difficult to see. The authors have leant heavily on the published literature, but have also included many personal, previously unpublished data, based on both field and museum studies. The texts are supported by 34 colour plates by Eustace Barnes, who has also observed many of the species in the field, as well as by detailed distribution maps and approximately 400 stunning photographs that cover all but a tiny handful of species.The Authors

Guy Kirwan has spent much of the last two decades in the Neotropics, from Mexico to Argentina and Chile, but especially Brazil, a country in which he has spent more than seven years in the field. He has written several books, including “The Birds of Turkey” and is a regular contributor to the academic literature. A research associate of the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Guy was one of the founders of the Neotropical Bird Club, and has edited its journal Cotinga since 1996. Since 2004, he has also been the editor of the ‘Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club’. Guy now divides his time between his homes in Rio de Janeiro and Norwich.

Graeme Green was born in Scotland, but grew up in Kent, one of the best counties in Britain for birdwatching. During the late 1970s Graeme was a regular on the UK ‘twitching’ scene and from there it was a small step to travel abroad in search of birds; he eventually chose the ‘bird continent’ as his primary love and has travelled widely in search of cotingas and manakins. He has served on the councils of the Oriental Bird Club and the Neotropical Bird Club, and formerly compiled the Taxonomic Round-up for Cotinga.Fatbirder View

Having only seen a handful of these beautiful species I looked at a sample of entries to form an impression and soon wanted to see more. Actually, that’s not quite true, I’ve wanted to see more for years but this in-depth treatment is yet another reason.

The Helm Identification Guides are simply bibles for birders but this volume goes a step further – it’s the first one I’ve seen to include lots of supporting photographic images supplementing all the superb paintings and comprehensive text. I expected it to be detailed and accurate; Guy guided me and some friends in Cuba this year so I already knew that his knowledge is both wide and deep and no-one would doubt his passion for the neotropics.

If there are faults I can’t find them – anyone with even the merest desire to see any of these birds will want this book on their shelves.


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