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Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica [Paperback]

4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 12 2003 0801496004 978-0801496004 1
Costa Rica, a country of no larger than West Virginia, hosts more than 830 species of birds, more than in all of North Amerian north of Mexico. It may well be the only country in the world with as many bird species and habitats to be found in such a small area. Within two hours' drive from San Jose, one can see quetzals in highland forests, antbirds in lowland forests, or shorebirds and ibises in mangrove swamps.

This lavishly illustrated book is the most comprehensive treatment of a rich tropical avifauna ever presented in a single volume suitable for its use in the field. With is full coverage of waterbirds and migrants as well as resident tropical species, and its coverage of such topics as plumages, vocalizations, food habits, nesting, and distribution, it is truly a guide to the birds themselves, not merely a guide to their identification.

Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch first set the stage for the birds by briefly describing the landforms, vegetation, and climates of Costa Rica. For those who want to take "that second long look" to interpret what they see, the authors discuss some aspects of evolution, ecology, and behavior of Costa Rican birds, and report on the costly and courageous conservation efforts the country is making in face of discouraging odds. The family and species accounts that follow, covering some 400 pages, make up the bulk of the book, with 52 magnificent color plates illustrating virtually ever species of Costa Rican bird, migrants as well as residents. There are also practical tips for trips in the field and descriptions of good birding locations, with specific directions for travel by car, public transport, and on foot, as well as three maps.

A highly readable, portable encylopedia to the fascinating, ever-surprising birds of Costa Rica, this book will be welcomed by birders and other naturalists, professional and amateur ornithologists, ecologists, travelers, and conservationlists throughout the northern Neotropics.

F. Gary Stiles is Profess or Biology and Curator of Birds, Museum of Zoology, at the University of Costa Rica. Alexanda F. Skutch has lived in Costa Rica for more than 50 years and has dedicated his professional life to studying the breeding biology of Neotropical birds. He is the author of many books, including Life of the Woodpecker and Life of the Tanager (Cornell University Press) Dana Gardner, who is with the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, has extensive field experience in Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. He has illustrated a number of books on birds and tropical nature.

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Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica + Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide + The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide
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Product Description

From Library Journal

Comstock: Cornell Univ. Pr. Oct. 1989. c.656p. permanent paper. illus. maps. bibliog. index. LC 88-43444. ISBN 0-8014-2287-6. $65; pap. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4. $35. ref This is a superior field guide to a country with one of the richest assortments of bird life anywhere. Written and illustrated by top experts, this book has it all: 52 excellent color plates, detailed species accounts, brief write-ups of 70 birding localities, and extensive introductory materials, often skimped on in books of this genre, on geography, climate, habitats, and conservation, accompanied by helpful photographs. Costa Rica has a fine park system and has long been the most popular Central American country for visiting naturalists. Since the destruction of natural areas in the Neotropics is finally receiving the publicity it deserves, books such as this are urgently needed. It is the first Costa Rican bird book since Paul Slud's The Birds of Costa Rica (1964. o.p.), a respected but unillustrated monograph. A splendid job. Highly recommended.
- Henry T. Armistead, Thomas Jefferson Univ. Lib., Philadelphia
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good book Oct. 28 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Im a Stutch fan, and this book is great. old standard. Does not have range maps, unfortunately.

Also, not sure why but a bunch of the colour plates were cropped - so bits of some birds are missing. Makes it look like some cheap black-market reproduction. I cross compared with a book purchased in Costa Rica, and it had the same issue, but I can't imagine the original printings were like dat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book of my dream! Jan. 28 2004
Like all the readers before me, I found this book unbelievably complete and thorough, compeling and mesmerizing. The color llustrations are beautifull. The text his precise and informative, from an overview of each bird family to description, habits, voice, nest, status and range of each bird. An absolute must-have for any bird- or Costa Rica lovers! A hundred times the informations in the Birds of North America... (which I still really really like!)
Like the Quetzal calls: "very good, very good..."!
The book is a bit heavy and I agree you should remove the central plates and only bring the illustrations on your field trip.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birding at its Best Feb. 13 2003
Costa Rica is a bird watching paradise. I ought to know - my wife and I wrote the guidebook, "Adventure Guide to Costa Rica," and we payed special attention to birding spots around the country. Please check our book out as well. Bird watching may be the perfect eco-tourism activity because of its low environmental impact as well as its benefit to the local economy. Gary Stiles title is a very helpful guide for both experienced and amateur birders and the color plates aids in identifying indigenous and transient species. Thorough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book I Refer to the Most May 22 2004
I have lived on the Pacific of Costa Rica for 5 years and find myself constantly referring to this book - one that was recommended to me by virtually every person I spoke to who knew I was relocating to Costa Rica.
For other fans of this book, you may be interested to know that one of the authors, Alexander Skutch, recently passed away at the age of 99. He was a long-time resident of Costa Rica and long admired in ornithological circles. A memorial service was held for Mr. Skutch on May 20th - his 100th birthday - at the Tropical Science Center in Perez Zeledon, in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica.
Please refer to an article in The Tico Times, May 14, 2004 edition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birds of Costa Rica - a must-have April 4 2007
This book is a "must" for Costa Rican birders - at least until the reviews are in on the new "Helm Guide" by Richard Garrigues due out in June 2007. That said, there are a few age-related drawbacks to Skutch's tome that should be borne in mind. Range information is quite out-of-date. For example, there is no mention of the Sandwich Tern colony that exists off Manuel Antonio National Park. Melodious Blackbird is treated as extremely rare, whereas it is now quite common. Maps included in the book are also quite antiquated. The user should obtain a separate highway map of Costa Rica. There are no species range maps, and the range descriptions given are a bit difficult to get used to. (Range maps for mountainous countries are difficult anyway, since range is often as much about elevation as it is about latitude). DO NOT cut out the plates and ignore the text! The range information in the text is essential to identifying many species. Moreover, it tends to be more accurate than the cursory range information included with the plates. The illustrations are generally very good, but not up to modern standards. In particular, pay attention to the WRITTEN descriptions of the birds, which are quite accurate. This is especially important when considering the SIZE of the bird, since the plates are NOT drawn "to scale" and birds illustrated as being the same size might not be so in real life. These are small quibbles, however. This book is generally very good to excellent. If you are a birder, you need this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Jan. 31 2004
By A Customer
This book along with the essay collection "Costa Rica : The Last Country the Gods Made" should be owned by anyone who loves Costa Rica, even if they think they despise nature studies as dry and limited. This book's spirit is undeniable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic and Useful Sept. 24 2003
By z
It is hard to add much to the reviews provided by readers. The book is a superb guide to the birds of Costa Rica. It is a bit heavy and many guides cut the text out and bind the pictures into something a bit lighter for the field.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Working with birds in Costa Rica April 15 2003
Excellent book, invaluable for field and in-hand identification of birds in Costa Rica. If I could offer criticism, we need a more up to date edition (many species' range information needs updating a little) and species with strong population clines need more plates (eg Caribbean versus Pacific races). For birders visiting in the winter an extra book for US species (I recommend The North American Bird Guide by David Sibley) will compliment Stiles & Skutch for many variable and eclipse plumage migrants.
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