Peru is smaller than Alaska, yet is home for at least part of the year to over 1,800 species of birds, almost one fifth of the total number of species in the world! Many of the species are rare, some critically endangered, and many live in inaccessible places and are not at all well known.
The value of a comprehensive field guide to Peru cannot be overstated, for birders, researchers, and conservationists, but imagine how daunting the task of putting together such a work. John P. O’Neill conceived and started work on this project in 1961. It has taken over four and a half decades of intensive fieldwork and museum research for Thomas Schulenberg (Cornell Lab of Ornithology research associate), Douglas Stotz, Daniel Lane, John O’Neill, and the late Ted Parker to complete. The wait was well worth it: they’ve put together an authoritative, inviting, accessible guide which, unlike a great many guides to tropical birds, really lives up to the name field guide. Despite its thorough coverage of every species documented from Peru through May 2004, it barely outweighs The Sibley Guide to Birds!
Small wonder Birds of Peru (Princeton University Press, 2008) was named winner of the National Outdoor Book Award in the Nature Guidebook category in October 2008. It will be an invaluable scientific resource, as well as a beautiful book to browse through, for many years to come.
Originally published in the January 2009 issue of BirdScope.
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