The good folks at Oxford University Press sent me a review copy of their latest "A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil" by Ber van Perlo. This is now the essential field guide companion that one would need when visiting Brazil. What an endeavor it must have been to compile a field guide for a country so ecologically diverse as Brazil and with so many species of birds. I've been hearing a lot about the great birding in Central America recently, but this field guide revealed to me that Brazil hosts almost 2000 amazing species and deserves more of our international attention.
This field guide is about the same size and weight as the Big Sibley, so kind of large, but still manageable as a field guide. As you open the guide you find about 10 species per page with the plate on the opposing page. The paintings are simple, yet sufficient in showing the differences between sexes and similar species. This guide does not employ the field mark arrows and text common in modern US field guides. I assume it would have been difficult to make such a comprehensive field guide of Brazil that was still small enough to be considered a field guide if it had all the same conveniences of the Sibley guides. The descriptions are brief and cover the basics like most identifiable field marks, habitat, and call/song notes. This guide uses an abundance of symbols to reduce the space required.
The distribution maps have a unique color code and set of symbols that might take a bit to get used to, but make a lot of sense. The index is excellent. My favorite part of the guide is probably the English-Portuguese dictionary of birding related terms to help us foreigners when we visit Brazil. In the appendix I find listings of the 218 Brazilian endemics and on which pages in the guide they can be found. If that doesn't get you excited about birding in Brazil, then...!
If there are any eco-tourism/birding companies in Brazil, I've got my must-have Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil and camera and I'm ready for that familiarization visit!