Birding Books

The Old Favourite…

aves_arg1 Birds of Argentina and Uruguay
Narosky, T. and D. Yzurieta.
Mazzini 2011

The Gold Edition of Tito Narosky’s well-loved guidebook was for many years the standard work for visitors to Argentina.  Even the often-made comment – that the plates are not that great but the text is insightful and accurate – has been made so many times as to have passed into local birding lore.  Text includes characteristics and behaviour, the habitat, distribution area in the Americas, common and scientific names, probability of sighting, threatened status and a nice addition – a “Wanted” list at the end of birds with few or unconfirmed sightings in Argentina – quite a few of these are now confirmed!.  English and Spanish versions.

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…Made New

“…if you are planning on only bringing one book for your birding in Argentina, it should definitely be this one.”
Birds of Argentina and Uruguayaves_arg2
Narosky, T. and D. Yzurieta.
Mazzini 2011

Released in late 2011, the new bilingual edition of the Narosky classic addressed the shortfalls of previous editions, with English and Spanish text side-by-side on the page and bird photos to accompany the original drawings.  Two other new features should remove all doubts as to the value of this new guide: a DVD of vocalizations and a plastic cover to make the book more portable and hardy in the field.

My only critisism would be that to accomodate all the new material the text entries have been greatly reduced.  Then again, you can’t have everything and there is no doubt that if you are planning on only bringing one book for your birding in Argentina, it should definitely be this one.

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Guide’s Choice Double:

But if you can carry more than one book, get these two and have illustrations of over 90% of all the birds on the continent!

bsa_pSongbirds of South America
Ridgely, R and G. Tudor
Texas 2009

There was much excitement when it was announced that the two amazingly detailed but very hefty Birds of South America vols I and II (see below) were to be combined into a single field volume.  And the result was well worth waiting for – with all the original plates plus 160 new illustrations, the new Passerines guide is a standard to measure other regional guidebooks by.  This book, together with the next one get my “guide’s choice” star for being an unbeatable combination that covers the whole continent.

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bsa_npBirds of South America (non-Passerines)
Rheas to Woodpeckers
Erize, F.,  J. F. Mata and M. Rumboll
Princeton 2006

Set out in the standard bird guide style, with plates on the right, text and maps on the left, makes for a compact handbook. It’s true that some of the plates, of some hummingbirds for exmple, are not as resplendent as we have come to expect, but still this book, together with the Ridgely and Tudor, completes the coverage of the avifauna of South America in style.

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The Complete Reference Collection:

bsa_IBirds of South America
Vol 1: Sub-Oscine Passerines
Ridgely, R and G. Tudor
Texas 1989

Although published before many of the most far-reaching recent taxonomic revisions, these are the perfect desk companions to the abridged combined Songbirds guide (above). You’ll probably want to leave these two big boys on the bookshelves but the unrivalled wealth of information in the text makes them, despite their age and weight, invaluable reference works.

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bsa_1Birds of South America
Vol 2: Oscine Passerines
Ridgely, R and G. Tudor
Texas 1994

Companion to the previous volume.  Before the combined guide came out, we’d lovingly wrap these two books in double layers of plastic bags, stow them in our packs and hike them all the way up to our study site.  Sometimes we’d be short on food, but never without “BSA” as we called them.

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Looking Further Afield:

Birds of Brazilbirds_brazil_vp
van Perlo, B.
Oxford 2009
The avifauna of the Atlantic Forest of Misiones is well covered within the 1800 species accounts of this recent publication which currently leads the field in Brazil bird guidebooks.  Advantages are the large pocket-size format, making van Perlo’s guide portable, with short descriptions and 9-colour range map for each species and most sub-species of one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet.  Great buy if you’re thinking of going on to Brazil after your stop in Argentina!

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Stop the Press!

Birds of Brazil: The Atlantic Forest of Southeast Brazil, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeirobirds_of_atl_for
Ridgely, R. S. and J. A. Gwynne
WCS 2016


Just out.  Hoping to get a look at this in Rutlandwater next month – the new installment of Wildlife Conservation International’s five-part Birds Of Brazil series.  With illustrations by Guy Tudor, this book is getting great reviews and looks like it’s going to be the new “must have” for the area!

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