Tuesday, May 25, 2010

revised and updated edition of the Birds of Peru

The Revised and Updated Edition of the Birds of Peru, (2010, Princeton University Press) is a worthy successor to the original edition. A country with an amazing 1,817 species of birds surely needs a comprehensive guide to portray them, and this book ably accomplishes this task. The authors (Thomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O’Neill, and the late Theodore A. Parker III) have or had vast experience with the avifauna and the extraordinary geography of Peru. Encompassing this breadth of information is no small task - the diversity of species is stunning, as of course are many of the birds themselves. I direct you to the 121 hummingbird species as only one example, or the tanagers as another, or the wide array of parrot, manakin, or flycatcher species as further proof.

The majority of Peru’s birds are permanent residents, but both boreal and austral migrants are well-represented. Considering the size of the geographic region that contains all of these species is made more remarkable by the range of habitats, from Amazonian forests, to montane, elfin, dry, white-sand, and Polylepis forests, mangroves, savanna, puna (dry grasslands at high elevations), paramo (humid grasslands at high elevations), marshes, lakes, seacoast, bamboo, bogs, and the special category known as “treefall gaps.” Peru varies topographically from the low Amazonian Basin, to the high Andes. This guide manages to say something about all of these factors and how bird species relate to them.

The plates are amazingly thorough, again considering the extent of the task involved in covering more than 1,800 species. Each facing page has a species account and map. The text for each species is limited to about one-sixth of the page, and the maps are small, but these features make this 664-page volume a real “use-in-the-field” book. It’s quite an accomplishment.

Highly recommended for anyone venturing to this part of the world - how will they top this?

See more at the website of Princeton University Press, at this link.

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