The Bottom Line
Peru is a birder's paradise, and Birds of Peru: Revised and Updated Edition is the ideal field guide to this highly coveted birding destination. With colorful and detailed illustrations of more than 1,800 bird species, this book is a masterfully comprehensive volume of the country's avifauna but is still portable enough for dedicated field use. Richly detailed, attractive and thorough, Birds of Peru is a must-have guide for any birder's library, whether they are planning to visit Peru or are just dreaming of the possibilities.
- Good-sized illustrations show multiple plumages and color morphs where necessary, though lack pointers to highlight key field marks.
- Extensive introduction includes multiple maps of Peru for convenient reference to preserves, rivers and states.
- Covers an outstanding 1,817 species – all birds validly recorded in Peru though May 2004.
- Size and weight can be bulky and unwieldy but is necessary for the sheer scope of the book, and the book is still suitable for field use.
- Title: Birds of Peru: Revised and Updated Edition
- Authors: Thomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O'Neill and Theodore A. Parker III
- Publisher: Princeton University Press
- Publication Date: May 2010
- Format: Softcover (Kindle edition also available but quality may differ)
- Bird Artwork: Illustrations
- Dimensions: 8.25" (21.0 cm) tall, 5.75" (14.6 cm) wide, 1.5" (3.8 cm) thick
- Page Count: 664
- ISBN: 978-0-691-13023-1
- Price: $39.50
Review - Birds of Peru
Every serious birder who hopes to add hundreds to their life list won't want to miss out on visiting Peru, and Birds of Peru: Revised and Updated Edition is an essential tool for making that trip practical and easy when it comes to bird identification. While a bit oversized for a field guide, this 664-page volume covers a total of 1,817 bird species, 25 more than in the previous edition. When that quantity is taken into account, it is amazing that this book isn't much larger, considering all the information it contains.
The guide's 24-page introduction includes extensive acknowledgements – no book of this scope is completed without help from many sources – as well as brief tips for how to use the guide appropriately. Multiple maps are useful for geographic references, including a topographical map of Peru, a map of the country's major rivers and a political map with each state labeled. The map of the country's principle protected areas on page 29 will be especially helpful for birders who may be planning a visit to Peru and want to know where to go birding.
Other information in the guide's introduction includes:
- Brief descriptions of Peru's major habitats
- Bird conservation challenges faced in Peru
- Detailed range map key
- Bird anatomy glossary
- Multiple parts of a bird diagrams
The illustrations of birds are colorful and detailed, and include dimorphic and juvenile plumages where appropriate, as well as significant color morphs. Birds are illustrated in typical postures, and each illustration on a single page is arranged in a similar orientation for greater ease in comparing species. The illustrations do not, however, use pointers to highlight key field marks, but they are sizable and easy for users to pick out key characteristics without help. Range maps are included on the outer margins to be easily visible.
While the illustrations are outstanding in their beauty and detail, the text in this guide is also rich and informative. Information in the brief descriptions of the birds includes:
- Common and scientific species names
- Size in inches and centimeters
- Seasonal distribution notes
- Voice for both songs and calls where noteworthy
- Brief comparisons to similar species
- Abbreviations for adjacent countries where the bird is also noted
- Elevation range preferences for the bird
While not every species includes all of this information in its brief text, all the relevant details are available when they will help with species identification.
The guide's index combines both common and scientific names for easy reference, though there are no checkboxes for convenient listing.
Because of this guide's beauty and comprehensive scope, it should deserve a place of honor on every birder's bookshelf. Birders visiting Peru will appreciate its details and concise information to help with bird identifications, while even birders who never bird beyond their backyard can enjoy its colorful illustrations of more than 1,800 species. Whether just at home or on your way to Peru, Birds of Peru is a treat for birders everywhere and sets a high standard that many field guides will be hard pressed to match.