Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Excellent guide to Peruvian avifauna.
on 16 April 2014
I've just taken delivery of Birds of Peru (Helm Field Guides) [Paperback].
At the risk of writing a review too soon (I won't get to try this in the field for at least 18 months at the very earliest!) I've decided to give my first impressions.
I chose this book because I already have (and have used) the equivalent edition for Costa Rica, which I rate very highly as a field guide and which follows a format that I am familiar with and prefer.
I actually bought my copy of Peru through the MarketPlace from The Book Depository and as a small aside I recommend them highly.
On arrival, the first thing to notice is the sheer weight of the book! It is very heavy in the hand, and I would argue it is pushing it for suitability as a field guide.
The more professional or serious amateur birders - I would categorise myself as the latter - would doubtless tolerate the extra baggage allowance required, but if you have just a casual interest in birds, you might want to opt for something a bit lighter, and less comprehensive.
It is a couple of centimetres longer and wider that the Costa Rica version, and its extra pages all add to the weight. Think of it as a somewhat oversized Collins Bird Guide.
This book is jam-packed to the rafters with well over 600+ pages comprising text opposite plates (the style I like) representing the 1800 odd Peruvian Species.
It does everything the Costa Rica guide does, and more, and most of it is done better.
Pelagics are included, maps are informative, extra little details are given (usually in code form) in the descriptive text, and the general impression I get is that it is a bit more "complete" than Costa Rica. Again think Collins quality (and perhaps add a bit!).
So does it have any shortcomings?
In my opinion it does.
If you are considering this as your choice of Peruvian Fieldguide, don't let anything I am about to say put you off... just be aware.
Have I mentioned the weight?
Well, they've done well to keep it so small!
By necessity, the text, maps and illustrations are on the small side. Generally, 7 or so species are dealt with in each page of text, and I have counted one occurrence of 24 illustrations on the adjoining plate covering various gender and age differences and colour morphs. This did not seem to be an unusual circumstance.
In addition, labelling of the illustrations is confusing at times, just because of the "clutter".
Also I feel many of the illustrations are not as good as they could be. I'm no expert, and certainly no artist, and my copy is untried in the field, so it's perhaps churlish of me to make such a subjective comment. However, I feel the Costa Rica plates are better, and I don't think it's a consequence of size.
Of course, do note that other reviewers disagree with my opinion!
And on matters of disagreement, I have no problem with the index.
So, is it worth shelling out close to 30 quid for this book?
It absolutely is. You'll probably need no other guide (although can you ever have enough?). Besides, compared to how far in debt you've gone to pay for you trip out to Peru... it's a snip!
I think I compared the text too favourably to Collins, the latter being more detailed and comprehensive. Nonetheless, the text in this guide is informative, if concise.
Still worthy of five stars.