Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Book review: Birds of Belize by Lee Jones

Birds of Belize

H. Lee Jones
Illustrated by Dana Gardner 
University of Texas Press | 2004
440 pp. | 15.5 x 22.5 cm | 56 colour plates, 28 figures, 234 distribution maps
Paperback | £29.99 / $34.95 | 978-0-292-70164-9

Due to its small size, proximity to the USA, English speaking tradition, tropical biodiversity and fairly well conserved natural environment, Belize is growing to be one of the most popular destinations for birders. However, until recently the country lacked a national field guide. This book therefore fills a major gap in the bird identification literature.

The book covers all 574 species recorded in Belize at the time of publication. After brief but informative introductory chapters, a group of 56 colour plates is dedicated to every species. As a refreshing change, all migrants are illustrated, reducing the need to carry an additional field guide to North American birds. A brief text accompanies each plate on the facing page, while the full species descriptions are found separately in the main body of text. Range maps for 234 species are found at the back of the book.

Although this book will not replace the immensely authoritative Howell & Webb's A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America for Belize, it is certainly a much more portable guide to carry into the field. A must for birders planning a trip to this friendly patch of Central America. 

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