Other than being out in the field, there is nothing quite like a new field guide to get a birder's juices flowing. There is an added dimension of pleasure and excitement when the guide covers a region far from home. Given the fact that many of us are confined to home by COVID-19, and travel even within the borders of our own country, let alone overseas, is well nigh impossible, the excitement is magnified. We have all become armchair birders to some extent, and I have already spent several rewarding hours probing this field guide.
It is a wonderful new guide to the birds of Argentina, with due attention also being paid to the avifauna of the southwest Atlantic.
Mark Pearman is renowned for his knowledge of the birds of the southern part of South America and I can think of no one better to be the lead author of this work. I confess to not being acquainted with Juan Ignacio Areta, but a search of the literature, and the bibliography in the book, reveals that he is a distinguished Argentinian ornithologist and has collaborated with Pearman on several scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.
The format follows the standard arrangement for modern field guides. The introductory pages are filled with information and I cannot emphasize enough that birders should always take the time to read this section. In the case of the present guide, for example, the coverage of geography and hydrogeography alone, makes for a more comprehensive understanding of the distribution of birds within the country. The section on bird topography is artfully done, with different species used to highlight the multi-faceted nature of avian form.
The guide is arranged in conventional format, with illustrations on the right hand page, and text and range maps on the left. The pictures, the work of four different artists, illustrate the birds well, and after close examination I can find nothing to which I would take exception. I would be very happy to have this guide with me in the field.
I found it quite fascinating that after the species accounts, an illustrated section is devoted to furnariid and icterid nests. How incredibly useful! This is followed by six appendices, viz, 1. Introduced species 2. Keys to prion identification 3. Keys to pipit identification 4. Sonograms 5. List of illustrated flora (hooray for this one!) 6. Taxonomic notes.
The list of references is comprehensive, pointing the way to further study.
I cannot help reflect that Princeton University Press has done a masterful job in the coverage of the avifauna of this part of the Americas. When I went to Chile in 2012 Alvaro Jaramillo's Birds of Chile was my constant companion. This was followed in 2018 by Birds of Chile, A Photo Guide by Steve Howell and Fabrice Schmitt. Now with this fabulous new guide, The Birds of Argentina, southern South America is very comprehensively covered.
Thank you Princeton University Press!
Birds of Argentina and the South-west Atlantic - Princeton University Press
Mark Pearman & Juan Ignacio Areta
Paperback - US$39.95 - ISBN: 9780691147697
Publish date: 9 February 2021
432 pages - 5.5" x 8.5"