on 27 April 2004
This is a lavishly illustrated book with all of Costa Rica's 830 birdspecies depicted in color on 52 plates. This is also a valuable book ifyou visit any of Costa Rica's neighbouring countries. The book is not onlya field guide, but it is also a guide to birding in Costa Rica. Thespecies accounts are highly informative and set out in a simple format.Although the plates are a bit cramped and the illustrations are small,they are clear and well drawn.This book is a must for any birder visitingCentral America.
on 31 March 2007
This book is undoubtedly the best in the choice. The descriptions about the birds are brilliant and the grouping on the plates helps in the identification well. BUT, the book has some surprising deficiencies, especially compared to similar guide books. These are: the drawings often haven't illustrated the birds well either their pattern/colors or their shape; in some cases the drawings are expressly wrong and the pictures on the plates don't give help enough regarding the size of birds.
on 25 April 2008
Costa Rica contains a remarkable number of bird species, so it is not surprising that this comprehensive guide to the subject is quite a hefty tome. On simple, practical grounds, that does mean that it may not be the ideal book actually to depend on in "the field". The alternative book, by Richard Garrigues, is a more manageable size. That is down to the difference in layout. This book favours the placing of the illustrations in a series of central plates, while the Garrigues book opts for having the text for each species facing the illustration. There are arguments to be made in favour of both approaches and I think that there are clear advantages in the field to having the text and the picture in proximity. That format, however, does decidedly restrict the amount of text that can be included, for any given species, to the absolute essentials. In contrast, every species here is discussed in excellent detail: description, habits, voice and range. That is certainly this book's trump card. If Garrigues is the handier field guide, this is much the superior reference work. There are no specific maps, but they probably are unnecessary in a guide covering just Costa Rica, since the text describes where and when a species is likely to be encountered. It's not likely that a thumbnail map is going to provide more accurate information. The plates are very attractive, but the depictions of the birds are rather small. I think that that could be a problem for someone trying to identify a hummingbird, for instance, even from a good-quality photograph. A possibly serious, but subjective, problem with the plates involves the colours, some of which don't entirely convince. This is a very difficult question to judge, of course, as no two people, in all probability, ever see exactly the same colour. Even so, I do, on balance, prefer the greater detail and more subdued colours of the illustrations in the Garrigues book. If a straightforward field guide is required, then, the book by Richard Garrigues has advantages, but I should not want to be without the very authoritative text that this book provides.
on 17 January 2015
I bought this book for a trip to Costa Rica. Its intended audience are ornithologists, therefore previous comments about using it as a field guide are true yet irrelevant to any ornithologist. Using it as a field guide therefore requires modifications, the books contains the detailed information on the first and last sections, these are made of regular paper and will not survive high humidity, even though the cover is laminated (at least in the copy I got).
Like S. Emília notes, the length and habitat map information you find in Newman's Birds are missing, these are available in the 783 maps in the field guide. Also the plates are smaller, and the references near the plates are dated. For a up to date checklist: http://www.amazon.com/2014-Official-List-Birds-Costa/dp/1494733390/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421619986&sr=1-1
If you want a birders complete guide book written and approved by expert ornithologists, buy this one. And as a field guide, buy: Birds of Costa Rica (Helm Field Guides) which has 166 plates and 31 additional color plates. I like the additional ornithological details. This item written in English luckily, doesn't suffer from the imperial system. The insides of the cover have ways to scale the metric system with the imperial system, which from SI unit perspective is more scientific.
The first section starts with geography and Climate ans subdivides with coasts and islands, mountains and valleys, lowlands and climate. Then describes the habitats: plumage & songs, breeding & molt, movements of the avifauna, food & foraging. Describes effort of bird conservation. Then describes families & species. Where necessary it's illustrated with monochrome pictures. There are two pages of anatomy that helps in identification.
The constraints of this book: no subspecies are included. No technical Jargon. It omits particular measurements of bills, wings tails & eggs. And doesn't include North American migrants. Making this arguably a birders book rather than a ornithological guide.