| Field Guide to the Birds of the Dominican Republic & Haiti | By Steven C Latta, Christopher Rimmer & Kent McFarland | Princeton University Press| Edition 2 | 2022 | Paperback | 228 Pages, colour illustrations & colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780691232393 | £19.99p |
The Publisher’s View:
Field Guide to the Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti is the essential guide to birdwatching in these tropical countries. This completely revised and updated edition (published exclusively by Princeton University Press, with no separate UK edition being published by Helm) provides thorough accounts for more than 300 species, including details on new and endemic species.
Now conveniently organized by facing pages, the book features a wealth of images that includes 150 new illustrations by renowned artist Dana Gardner and range maps based on the most current data. Species descriptions present facts about key field marks, similar species, voice, habitats, geographic distribution, status, range, and local names used in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The guide underscores the importance of promoting the conservation of migratory and resident birds, and building support for environmental measures.
The Authors: Steven Latta is director for Conservation and Field Research at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Christopher Rimmer is executive director and Kent McFarland is founder and senior conservation biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Dana Gardner is an author and illustrator. His many books include A Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & Singapore.
Reviews of the first edition:
“The illustrations are good and the concise text is free of waffle This new guide provides the travelling birder with all they need for a visit to this superb location and even those with a casual eye on the local wildlife will find it indispensable when trying to put a name to that hummingbird in the hotel garden.”
– The Visitor (January 2007)
“I liked the book and if I ever go there for a trip I will certainly invest in it […] A manageable field guide at a reasonable price.”
– Scottish Bird News (June 2007)
“Will undoubtedly prove an invaluable field guide for residents and visitors [an] excellent guide that anyone interested in the birds of Hispaniola should have.”
– IBIS (2007)
The first edition was published around the same time as the Helm guide to the same area, so it is interesting to compare the two, notwithstanding that this is the much updated and revised edition 2.
Then, as now, there is no doubt in my mind that the illustrations and distribution maps in the Helm guide are superior. It also wins on its larger format and the detailed accounts of the species. However, the layout of the Helm guide was very awkward with the maps and accounts in a separate section to the illustrations.
The PUP guide is so much easier to use with brief accounts and distribution maps together making its use much easier. It also wins out on feel and weight, it is one you could slip in a pocket without feeling like you are in a handicap steeplechase.
Despite its smaller size and weight this is much more the visitors book as the front end gives you a lot of information about the island and its geography and habitats. Recent political tension between the two political states notwithstanding it would be an invaluable source even to the non-birder.
My issue with the illustrations is mostly about colour. The ‘soft’ look to the pictures matches the reality of feathers but those species I have seen in the field do not seem quite right to me. Prothonotary warblers are striking birds no doubt, but more leaning to lemon than butter in my experience. Mind you I saw them last in the cold light of a Canadian spring, rather than the tropics.
Which guide would I take on a trip… this up-to-date and informative second edition over the Helm guide every time… lighter, easier to use and packed with knowledge and illustrations that are certainly good enough for ID if not striking me as totally colour-true.