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Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica [Paperback]

Stiles
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 47.50
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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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Frequently Bought Together

Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica + Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide + Costa Rica (Adventure Map)
Price For All Three: CDN$ 57.85

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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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book of my dream! Jan. 28 2004
Format:Paperback
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
By PM
Format:Paperback
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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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Its a good field guide! March 30 2002
Format:Paperback
Just back from 2 week guided tour to Costa Rica. This was a tour featured as "Nature's Museum" and led by a trained biologist that was good on bird ID, though his time was demanded more for logistics and keeping everyone of our 26 tourists happy by hitting the majors such as monkeys, butterflys, and birds like Quetzels, Motmots, and Toucans. I found the Stiles and Skutch guide to be most helpful. Recommend that a new user, read all of the general information just prior to a visit to the country. Also read in advance, the descriptions of bird families and look thru the plates to get a feel for birds you might see. Then when in the field, you can easily scan the plates, and check out the narrative descriptions, including their habits and ranges. Though this was not a bird trip, we did pick up 150 species that we felt comfortable on ID and perhaps a dozen unknowns mostly because of only flighting glimpes. About half were first called out by the local guides and the others by ourselves with help of the book. I find this book's info. on bird ranges to be most useful especially for neotropical migrants for which our North American guides generally ignore wintering areas south of US. One note of caution, is that the color plates aren't always perfect, for instance the tree swallow is too green, the palm tanager a bit too drab, and variants are not shown. Looks like there is room for a next generation "Sibleyian" guide to birds in central America.
If you have a more casual interest in birds, you may be more happy with "A Pocket Wildlife Guide" for Costa Rica, published by Rainforests Pub.,... commonly available locally in Costa Rica. It has nice color plates of common birds, butterflys, reptiles, and mammals.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't leave home without it. April 2 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having lived in Costa Rica since prior to the publication of "the book," I can attest to what a joy it is to have all the bird life under one cover, so to speak. (We used to have to tote 3 different volumes into the field!) Still, some find this one book too much to be burdened with and (as another reviewer has mentioned) pull out the colored plates from the book's center. I wholeheartedly recommend this procedure, but with one difference: take the text into the field and leave the plates at home (no offense, Dana). While the paintings are of passable quality, the information contained in the text is nothing short of superlative. No one would ever be able to distinguish between, let's say, a Rufous Piha and a Rufous Mourner by looking at the illustrations. The text, however, gives some very useful pointers, including vocalizations, that just might solve your identification quandary. But the bottom line is, if you're going birding in Costa Rica, don't leave home without it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book I Refer to the Most May 22 2004
Format:Paperback
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Birds of Costa Rica Jan. 18 2000
Format:Paperback
This is the best book for birding in Costa Rica but it is far too big and heavy to be an ideal field guide. A pro birding guide in CR suggested buying the book, removing the illustrations and having them bound for use in the field. Guides at La Selva have the plates laminated in plastic and spiral bound for easy carrying. Since it is a expensive field guide I'd suggest buying a protective cover for it. If you don't want to carry the weight, Peterson's Birds of Mexico has many of the birds you will see in Costa Rica.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Birds of Costa Rica - a must-have
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. Read more
Published on April 4 2007 by Pajarito
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best
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... Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic and Useful
It is hard to add much to the reviews provided by readers. The book is a superb guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2003 by z
5.0 out of 5 stars Working with birds in Costa Rica
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... Read more
Published on April 15 2003 by Rachel Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars great pictures and info
We bought this for our trip to Costa Rica after a friend who had been there recommended it to us. We haven't gone on our trip yet but are looking forward to using this book when... Read more
Published on Aug. 10 2002 by merrymousies
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible for whoever goes Bird-watching in Costa Rica
A guide with everything you'd possibly wish for. The only thing left after having read this book is go out and watch them, and use this book to easily identify them. Read more
Published on June 27 1999 by Martin_Pruimers@bigfoot.com
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