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Christopher J. Sharpe
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
After some three decades of work, Birds of Peru was finally published last year. This is the field guide that was first conceived by ornithologists John O'Neill, Ted Parker and Larry McQueen during the LSU Peru trips of the 1970s. Residing off reliable mail routes, I only just got my hands on a copy earlier this year. I had used photographs of the draft plates of this guide for fieldwork in Peru in the 1980s and on later trips had carried a pre-publication draft, and later a commercial copy of Clements' rather unsatisfactory Field Guide to the Birds of Peru. In short, I had been eagerly awaiting the finished product for 20 years, so I was very excited to get it. Suffice to say, given the original authors, and several others that subsequently joined the team, this guide was well worth the wait.
The first innovation is that plates, maps and text for each species are found together on a single spread, eliminating the need to flip from one section of the book to another. With 1,800 species to choose from, this is a distinct help! Secondly, this guide has over 300 plates - 304 to be precise. That in itself is quite an achievement - compare 96 for Birds of Ecuador, 69 for Colombia or 67 for Venezuela. Sure enough, there are more illustrations per plate in those guides, but we are still dealing with a highly visual field guide. Boreal migrants are properly illustrated, reducing the need to carry an extra field guide to North American birds.
The plates are by a number of artists. For me, Larry McQueen's are breathtaking. Perhaps that's a question of personal taste. His large, chunky watercolours capture the essence of the bird in similar way to another favourite artist of mine, Lars Jonsson. McQueen covers some key Neotropical groups including Woodcreepers, Furnariids, Antbirds and Tyrannids, which gives these groups a stamp of authenticity. Whether this approach works in the field is something I will have to test, but I can say that they look beautiful and faithful on the page. Although the plates are never less than good, another major Neotropical family, Hummingbirds, is - to my eye - the weakest of all the plates.
The text is concise and oriented towards field identification, with minimal or no natural history data - information which adds crucial extra weight. An indication of abundance, geographical and altitudinal range and migratory status is given in the first sentence. Identification features follow. The voice descriptions are, to my ear, accurate and pleasing.
Lastly, the book is sturdily bound so it won't immediately fall a part in the field. Compared to a north temperate field guide, Birds of Peru is heavy - but then it covers three times as many species. It might have been possible to lose a little weight by eliminating some of the white space on the plates, but this is a minor observation. At the end of the day, one of the world's major avifaunas now has an excellent field guide. Essential!
Chris Sharpe, 18 June 2008. ISBN: 0691049157