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Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica Paperback – May 1 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 559 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press (May 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 029273459X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292734593
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #160,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Carrol L. Henderson, a professional wildlife biologist, has made over twenty-five trips to Costa Rica since 1969 and has led over thirty-five birding and wildlife tours there and throughout Latin America since 1987. He lives in Blaine, Minnesota.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 3 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I wanted a field guide to tropical wildife. Since Audubon and Peterson do not offer guides of this sort I went out on a limb. This book is definately not a field guide, but a desk reference. If you want to quickly identify the birds you are seeing, this is by no means the book to have. There are wonderful pictures and great descriptions, but the layout of the book takes time to find what you are looking for. It should also be noted that this is predominantly a guide to the birds of costa rica, there are less than a dozen insects mentioned and about the same number of reptiles/amphibians. Overall good information on the birds and few other animals listed, but terrible format. One final thought- this is not a light book to have in your backback hiking through backcountry Costa Rica.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Genevieve Bertrand on Jan. 28 2004
Format: Paperback
An amazingly beautiful book about the wildlife in Costa Rica. Not as thorough and extensive as "A Guide To The Birds Of Costa Rica", but so artistically presented, I forgive it in a heart beat. The pictures of each bird, butterfly, frog, sloth and more are artistic, rich, expressive and liveful. I would be so lucky to bring back just one that look as good as that.
A must-have to read before and after a trip to Costa Rica. And in your hotel room after a field trip. Or on the bus going to a field trip. Or in your living room, dreaming about going there...
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Format: Paperback
At a hefty 600 pages this collection has something for everyone--and manages not to skimp on the essentials or pad itself with filler. Though it would serve well as an introduction, "Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica" is even better as a companion (especially to my favorite book on the country, "Costa Rica: The Last Country The Gods Made").
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
85 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Dont let the title of this book fool you. Feb. 3 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I wanted a field guide to tropical wildife. Since Audubon and Peterson do not offer guides of this sort I went out on a limb. This book is definately not a field guide, but a desk reference. If you want to quickly identify the birds you are seeing, this is by no means the book to have. There are wonderful pictures and great descriptions, but the layout of the book takes time to find what you are looking for. It should also be noted that this is predominantly a guide to the birds of costa rica, there are less than a dozen insects mentioned and about the same number of reptiles/amphibians. Overall good information on the birds and few other animals listed, but terrible format. One final thought- this is not a light book to have in your backback hiking through backcountry Costa Rica.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
What the Book Is Feb. 18 2005
By Christopher J Traub - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
People who got this book with the wrong expectations will naturally be disappointed. It's not a comprehensive field guide. If you expect a photograph and description of every single plant and animal species in Costa Rica, sorry, it's not all there.

Having said that, I didn't expect such things when I got the book and I was in no way disappointed with it. There is so much wonderful and useful information in this book that I can't imagine giving it less than five stars. Many times my wife and I commented to each other that it was "a very excellent book."

There are excellent photographs and very good species descriptions for birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects along with lots of amusing stories. There is much useful information about climatic effects and the author often tells you what kind of Holdridge life zone you are in. Xandari, for example, is tropical premontane moist forest.

This book has my unreserved and whole-hearted recommendation. If you're going to Costa Rica I hope you'll see scarlet macaws because they are truly magnificent.

For birders I recommend also getting "A Field Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica" by Stiles and Skutch. For reptiles and amphibians there is also "A Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica" by Leenders.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Great, but superficial Aug. 31 2004
By Simone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a great overview of the most common and the most sought-after wildlife in Costa Rica. It is nowhere close to all-inclusive. If you're looking for something inclusive, buy field guides for specific types of critters (birds, reptiles, etc). The pictures are gorgeous and are a good supplement to specific field guides. The book is really too big for taking into the field.

The best features of this book are the maps and the information about scarcity. It tells how often a particular animal was sighted out of 15 trips to areas where it occurs.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Good general guide to a sampling of Costa Rica Dec 22 2009
By Jack Holloway - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Basics: 2002, 539 pp, softcover; 400 color photos of 300 species of birds, mammals, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, and other invertebrates; natural history overview of each species; map of Costa Rica is sighting locations shown for each animal

This is an attractive, informative, and useful natural history guide for several animal types in Costa Rica. In contrast to the book's title, I would not call this a field guide. Its thickness and weight make it somewhat cumbersome to be carried in the field. Instead, this may be better suited as a tool for at-home reference before or after the outdoor excursion; or, carried in the car or backpack.

The 400 good color photographs cover the following six sections:
Birds = 259 photos of 189 species (of the 880+ found in the country)
Mammals = 46 photos of 31 species (out of 228)
Butterflies/Moths = 30 photos of 24 species (out of nearly 10,000)
Amphibians = 10 photos of 10 species (out of 175)
Reptiles = 34 photos of 25 species (out of 220)
Other insects, spiders, and crabs = 20 photos of 15 species (out of many thousands)

The selection of photos is nice, as is the quality and larger size of each one. Nearly every photo shows sharp color, is well lit with clarity and focus, and shows an unobscured view of the subject. The photos are the highlight of this book, which is what attracted me to buying it. It's nice to see many of Costa Rica's birds shown in a quality photo.

As noted in the breakdown of photographs list above, just over half of the book focuses on the birds, which are perhaps the more prominent or easily seen fauna in Costa Rica (other than the plant life). Within the birds, a slight bias goes towards showing more of the larger birds or non-passerines. Some great photos are provided for the 9 species of parrots, 18 raptors, and 22 shore and wading birds. On the smaller side, 18 species of hummingbirds are shown.

A smaller proportion of mammals is covered, which is analogous to what one typically sees in the wild since most of the mammals are either nocturnal or hidden by the foliage during the day. Four species of monkeys are photographed as are both the Three-toed and the Two-toed Sloths. Also, less likely to be seen, are four species of cats.

The text supplied for each species covers about a page of material dedicated to providing an overview of the natural history and, to a lesser extent, to describing the animal. Feeding behaviors, group interactions, habitat preferences, and other interesting nature trivia provide a brief but nice review of the animal's background. As an example, an interesting tidbit discusses the chemical composition of a forest yam that curtails the reproductive abilities of the peccaries.

A 2x2-inch map of Costa Rica is provided for each species. These maps do not show the range of the animal. Instead, dots represent a distinct sighting by the author and the associated nature tours. I like how the map is drawn with the five major biological zones that represent a distinct eco-region. The maps are relatively large and may be even too large since some species are shown by only a few dots. This takes up a good chunk of the page.

The introductory 36 pages of this book offer a good account of Costa Rica in general. Discussed are its history, nature preservation and conservation, nature tourism, biogeography, bird migration, endemic species, and the many habitat types. Reading this section before visiting Costa Rica will help give nice insight into the country.

I like all the information provided in this book as well as its well-rounded coverage. My only minor critique is the bulkier size of the book which is not due to the many species covered but in part to the organization of the text, photos, and maps. I suspect the book could have been 25% smaller (or the same size with 25% more species) by using a different font size and/or line spacing, a smaller map, and consolidation of the demographic information used to introduce each species.

As noted above, the book is not a complete field guide to any single group of animals, which is pointed out by the author. Instead, the book provides a sampling of what you may see while hiking around various areas of Costa Rica. Although there are certainly more complete field guides available for just the birds or the reptiles or the mammals (see list below), this book offers the nature generalist a very nice representation of the country's wildlife. It's a great book to read before, during, and after your visit.

I've listed several related books below...
The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guideby Garrigues
Mariposas De Costa Rica / Butterflies and Moths of Costa Rica by Chacon/Montero
The Mammals of Costa Rica: A Natural History and Field Guide by Wainwright
The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica by Savage
Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean Slope by Guyer/Donnelly
A Field Guide to Plants of Costa Rica by Gargiullo et al.
Tropical Plants of Costa Rica: A Guide to Native and Exotic Flora by Zuchowski
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Can't keep my hands of it! Jan. 28 2004
By Genevieve Bertrand - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An amazingly beautiful book about the wildlife in Costa Rica. Not as thorough and extensive as "A Guide To The Birds Of Costa Rica", but so artistically presented, I forgive it in a heart beat. The pictures of each bird, butterfly, frog, sloth and more are artistic, rich, expressive and liveful. I would be so lucky to bring back just one that look as good as that.
A must-have to read before and after a trip to Costa Rica. And in your hotel room after a field trip. Or on the bus going to a field trip. Or in your living room, dreaming about going there...


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