Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hummingbirds of Ecuador

Hummingbirds of Ecuador: Field Guide
by Ridgely, Robert S. and Murray Cooper
2012, 263pp, ISBN: 9789942987822
BASICS: softcover; book shows 394 good color photographs of all but 7 of the 133 species recorded from Ecuador; 120 species are given its own 2-page account with multiple photos; another 6 rarer species are shown by a single photo along with a brief paragraph to denote the bird's range and description; an additional 7 species are represented by only a brief paragraph; each full account for the 120 main species contains a description, identification points, distribution, behavior, comments on feeder visitation, a range map, and, when applicable, taxonomic notes 

REVIEW: This guide is a great photo summary of nearly all (126 of 133) species of hummingbirds found in Ecuador.  There are 120 "main" species shown, each with its own lengthy account and 2-3 photos.  Only six of the main species are shown by just a single photograph.  An additional 6 more species are briefly addressed at the end of another similar bird's account.  These six add-ins are typically the rarer birds, are shown by a single photograph and, have a brief notation about the bird's presence in the country.  I'm pleased to see a rarely photographed Pink-throated Brilliant is included in this book.  Lastly, 7 more species are briefly mentioned in the text but have no picture shown.  I wish a photo of the Peruvian Sheartail could have been included. 

Nearly all the photographs are good quality in color, focus, and size.  Most of the birds also have the female shown when there are notable differences between the plumages.  These photos should help the birder identify most , but not all, of the species seen in the field.  Several of the species are shown from only one direction (e.g., from just the front or the side) which could hinder identification depending on how the bird is seen in the wild.

The text for each bird consists of the same four paragraphs, one each for Recognition, Distribution, Behavior, and Feeders.  It is clear this material is directed to help identify the bird.  The paragraph on Recognition does a good job at describing the bird - both male and female - as well as drawing attention to the key identification marks.  These key features are underlined to denote their importance.  The authors also point out some of the field marks to separate the bird from other similar species.

The paragraph on Distribution is also very helpful since the bird's location in the country, especially around the Andes, can be a strong clue to identification.  Both the habitat types and elevations are discussed.  The short section on Feeders is also worth reading.  This provides clues as to the bird's fondness of visiting feeders and, importantly, which lodges are known for having the birds as routine visitors.

Each of the main 120 species is accompanied with a range map of Ecuador.  These maps show outlines of all provinces and also show the major rivers and cities as landmarks.  Only one color (green) is used to denote the bird's distribution at any time of the year in Ecuador.
This book will be greatly appreciated by anyone with a fancy for hummingbirds.  And, any birder that plans on viewing the hummingbird feeders at the lodges in Ecuador will want to first study this book and take it to the lodges.  It is easily possible to see 50+ species of hummingbirds at just a few lodges in a week's time.  -- (written by Jack at Avian Review with sample pages, May 2014)

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