This addition to the Lynx and BirdLife International Field Guides series covers the birder's paradise that is Colombia. Not only have more species been recorded there than in any other country, but almost one-fifth of the world's birds occur in Colombia, packed into an area slightly greater than 1,100,000 km2.
Stretching east to west from the Orinoco River to the Pacific Ocean, and north to south from the Caribbean to Amazonian headwaters, the country's topography is remarkably diverse. Here, the Andes are separated into three ranges by two important valleys, the Cauca and the Magdalena, and there are two very important massifs, Santa Marta and Perijá, in the north of the country – in particular, the Santa Marta range is one of the great endemic hotspots in the world. In recent years, a series of standard birding routes has evolved, many of them focused on the country's privately and publicly owned protected areas, permitting keen birders to see nearly all of Colombia's many special birds, from extravagantly plumaged parrots and hummingbirds to skulking antpittas.
Nevertheless, in South America the capacity to escape the beaten track and make novel findings is perhaps nowhere better than Colombia, as exemplified by the recent discovery of an apparently new species of antpitta close to the city of Cali.
As with previous volumes, the taxonomy follows the Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Detailed texts cover status, habitat and behaviour, age, sex and geographical variation, voice, and confusion species. The guides draws on Lynx's vast image bank and includes more than 3600 illustrations covering all species and distinctive subspecies, birds in flight, males and females, juveniles and non-breeding plumages, where appropriate. Close to 2000 full-colour range maps show distribution for all regularly occurring species. For each species a QR code is included, linking to complementary audiovisual material. Well-marked subspecies groups receive full accounts, and the distributions of subspecies breeding in the region are clearly mapped and local species names included. In total, 1965 species, 94 endemics, 101 near-endemics, 4 introduced, 42 vagrants are covered.
Steven L. Hilty received his PhD in Zoology from the University of Arizona and is currently a Research Associate in Ornithology at the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum of the University of Kansas. He has worked as a bird guide for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT) since 1983, leading tours throughout North and South America, and co-leading trips to India, the Orient and Australasia. Currently, his tour schedule is filled with interesting trips to different areas of Colombia. Steve is a renown bird expert and author, having co-authored A Guide to the Birds of Colombia and authored Birds of Venezuela and Birds of Tropical America: A Watcher's Introduction to Behavior, Breeding, and Diversity. He also wrote the Tanager chapter for Volume 16 of our the Handbook of Birds of the World. He has also published many scientific papers and has described two bird species new to science in Venezuela, and another with a team of colleagues in Colombia.
"[...] The novelty of this guide is particularly evident in a couple of other key aspects in the book, however, in addition to its taxonomic backbone. Firstly, the book utilises foresightful taxonomic thinking by giving specific page space in the form of separate accounts (and illustrations) to subspecies groups that have been earmarked for future splits [...] Secondly, the book makes use of QR codes that can be scanned by a smartphone camera or app for each species account. [...] this is a work of immense quality and devotion that will surely become the go-to resource for birders and ornithologists visiting and working in Colombia. Hilty's work is likely to again set new standards for many more Neotropical field guides to come."
– Sam Jones, birdguides.com
"[...] Whilst many global birders do not need much encouragement to visit Colombia, due to the rewards on offer to anyone interested in birds, the publication of this up-to-date field guide will greatly help with recognizing the species one encounters and to identify subspecies of taxonomic interest. I, for one, look forward to using it the next time I visit this incredibly bird-diverse country."
– Frank Lambert (09-06-2021), read the full review at The Birder's Library