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The Birds of Venezuela (Anglais) Broché – 1709
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De plus, les dessins sont en partie en noir et blanc, ce qui n'aide pas dans l'idéntification de l'espèce.
Ca peut convenir pour un scientifique, mais pas pour un ornithologue amateur.
le seul inconvénient inhérent à ce type de livre est qu'il faut sans arrêt faire des allers et retours entre les planches et le texte mais étant donnée la quantité d'oiseaux traités c'est inévitable
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First of all, the new guide is twice as thick and the text is much more closely packed. The book now weighs in at over 1.8 kg (4 lbs) and is more along the lines of the field guide volume of the Birds of Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). Nearly a hundred new species are treated, taking the country total to 1381. Far more species are illustrated and more colour plates have been used, though eight black and white plates have been retained to depict flying raptors and swifts. We now have 67 plates compared with the previous 53 - a 25% increase. Twenty-five of the plates are entirely new with beautiful artwork primarily by John Gwynne. The new plates cover a range of taxa, with Cracids, owls, nightjars, toucans, tanagers, Fringillids, Emberizids and Icterids particularly well covered. A further four have been adapted from Birds of Panamá (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989) and one from Birds of Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986). The remaining 37 are basically the same Guy Tudor plates (and one by John Gwynne) from the old edition with some modifications.
To my mind, though, it is the text which has really benefited from this new edition - so much so that this should really be thought of as an entirely new field guide. The format follows and improves on the standard set by Birds of Mexico (Howell and Webb 1995) and Birds of Ecuador. The type-setting and text layout have allowed far more text to be included than, say, Birds of Ecuador and Hilty has also been precise and economical with his words. This comes as no surprise to those familiar with Hilty's earlier Birds of Colombia.
The text is far more oriented towards identification than in the old edition - the main requisite for a field guide. The first section contains information specifically on identification and this is followed by a section on similar species, where further comparative text is merited. The voice section is new and seems to be very well compiled with - to my taste - excellent transliterations of songs and calls. Much natural history information and further aids to identification are included under a paragraph on behaviour. A detailed appraisal of status and habitat preference is included before the final discussion of range. The text retains the custom established by the earlier edition of separating range information by subspecies, a feature which is particularly welcome in these times of ever changing taxonomy. Range maps are another new feature and they make use of points corresponding to specimen and sight records as well as the customary shading to indicate overall range. In short, they are similar in format to those provided in Birds of Ecuador.
Finally there is a good selection of references at the end of the book and some very nice colour habitat photographs at the beginning. A well annotated locality map of the country is also provided together with colour relief and vegetation maps.
Any drawbacks? With a work of this magnitude there are bound to be some errors and omissions and I quickly found a number of minor inaccuracies too petty to mention here. Perhaps the guide could have a benefited a wee bit more from external review of status and range of some species - there are gaps in the known range of a number of species. Many will also carp about the dimensions and weight of this new guide, though this is an inevitable product of the diversity of the avifauna in question and nothing that cannot be remedied with a pair of scissors and a certain degree of irreverence.
In resumé, an essential buy for all who are interested in Neotropical ornithology and truly great value for money too. I can't wait to get the book out into the field!
Having said that, there is little one can add to Chris Sharpe's comprehensive review except to say that I have already used Hilty's book extensively for research this year, along with the other current guides for other countries, and have found it to be the best. In my opinion it sets a new standard. The only small weakness worth noting here is the plates, but has there been a guide that is perfect in this respect?
For anybody birding in Venezuela, the book is an essential item to have along.
The only downside for this book: it is much to bulky to carry around in the field, but there is probably nothing to be done about that given the number of birds involved. Be sure to bring a backpack if you plan to use this in the field.
In his 997 overview of Neotropical field guides Francois Vuilleumier called the 1978 guide "yet another product from the pen of the indefatigable late Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee, this time in co-authorship with his equally indefatigable late friend William H. Phelps, Jr.", citing it as "certainly the best one available for a South American country". The subsequent works of many others invalidate that ranking, but I think many birders and ornithologists will find that the 1978 book retains value.
This 2003 Birds of Venezuela by Hilty (illustrated by Gwynne & Tudor) includes a considerably better set of plates, generally more detailed species accounts, range maps, and informative introductory text. It's about twice the thickness of the earlier "edition", and I find only eight plates not in color (covering mainly raptors in flights and swifts). As has become almost axiomatic, it's really too big to carry in the field, and enterprising birders may well separate the plates to create a guide devoted to that purpose.
Hilty's guide is a worthy successor to the 1978 guide, and it's the worthy precursor to a guide that is more compact and "field-friendly" without sacrificing utility. Until then, no birder venturing into Venezuela or Guyana should be without Steven Hilty's 2003 guide.
- Lots of plates with fairly accurate drawings and really nice colors.
- Descriptions are brief but complete for a field guide.
- If you're not totally sure about your IDying, the descriptions section sheds even more light on you by saying which habitat the bird is supposed to be in and how its sound would be like. This is very useful at times. It has helped me a lot with my flycatcher issues. Also, it mentions similar species so that you can be certain you chose the right one.
- The first part of the book consists of drawings. You open the book in this section and the right page will have the drawings of the species, and the left page will have mini descriptions, so that, in many cases, you can ID accurately by looking at a certain unique feature on the animal the book says it has, without necessarily having to flip hundreds of pages for the complete text on that specific bird.
- Some drawings are really not as true to life as they should for some species. To give you an example, a heron may appear to have grey feet in the plate but has orange feet in real life. Those little things can be confusing at times.
- Some plates are in black and white for species with colored feathers. Granted, they're not the most colorful species, but it's still unnnecessary to have black and white plates in such a colorful book. It can get annoying to ID some raptors if you're a rather unexperienced birdwatcher.
- Some distribution maps are off. You may see a species outside the range the book describes for it, but in other, more accurate maps (Birds of Northern South America: An Identification Guide, Volume 2: Plates and Maps, for example) they're different. So, you may think this bird is outside its range, but it really is not. Maybe the maps are out of date, I don't know. I do know they're not entirely trustworthy, especially if you're going to use them for scientific purposes; otherwise it's not that big a deal.
- Some species are not on the plates, but on the descriptions, and in black and white drawings. I don't know the reason for this, but it gets very off-putting when you're not really sure which species it is you're lookin at. I'm still not sure which Sniper it was I saw that one day I noticed this flaw.
Mind the fact that I poured my past anxiety in the "Cons" section. All in all, it is a really good book, and the only field guide dedicated to Venezuelan birds. It's a must have, for sure. Getting this book is a no-brainer, really.