From the Grand Bahama Island in the north to Grenada in the south, this is an identification guide to the birds of a popular tourist destination renowned for the variety and diversity of its birdlife. The West Indies include the Bahama Islands, the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico), and the Lesser Antilles (Anguilla, Nevis and St. Kitts, Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenadines, St. Vincent). It is a tropical avifaunal region which includes such species as the tiny bee hummingbird, parrots, honey-creepers and todies. Every species found in the area is illustrated in every plumage in which they can be seen in the wild. The accompanying text concentrates on the specific characteristics and appearance of each species that allow identification in the field, including voice and distribution maps.
Wildlife artist Norman Arlott has illustrated nearly 100 books and his artwork regularly appears in magazines. He has designed special bird stamp issues for countries including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, Gambia, Malawi and Christmas Island. He has also led ornithology tours to East Africa.
"[...] I would highly recommend Birds of the West Indies to anyone visiting the Caribbean, even a single island that has a good guide of its own (i.e. Jamaica). So the only question remains which Birds of the West Indies – Arlott or Raffaele?
Actually, the answer may be both. Honestly, I don’t think either one is completely adequate by itself. Arlott has gaps in the illustrations and is deficient when it comes to difficult identifications, while Raffaele’s poorer illustrations (in my mind) requires a North American field guide as a supplement for shared species. I took both on a recent Caribbean vacation. I found myself referring most to the Illustrated Checklist, which came with me while Raffaele stayed in the room. That was a good arrangement, though I think the best combination would be Arlott’s field guide and Raffaele’s A Guide to the Birds of the West Indies, an older, larger reference on which his field guide is based. That way you would have Arlott’s superior art and behavioral notes, while Raffaele’s book rounds out the illustrations and helps with confusing species by way of its expanded text.
But that’s an expensive arrangement. If I were forced to choose just one for birding in the Caribbean – or for Florida birders hoping for a vagrant – I’d have to go with Raffaele’s Birds of the West Indies."
- Grant McCreary (19-04-2011), read the full review at The Birder's Library