Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: Birds of the West Indies

Coming this month!  ...a real treasure - a travel-sized book covering the birds of the Greater and Lesser Antilles and the Bahamas, so really every island in the Caribbean Sea.  The author, Norman Arlott, points out that he designed it to be a simple pocket book rather than a comprehensive field guide with all the modern accoutrements.  He also provides a "further reading" list for those interested in more detail than his wonderful pocket book can provide.

Thumbing through it I see fantastic paintings on each right-hand page.  I really, really like Mr. Arlott's style of illustrating.  Simple, beautiful, and accurate.  All the birds are profiled facing the same direction perched on a branch, on the ground, or in flight, whichever way you are most likely to encounter them in the field.  About half the pages are color plates of birds you would see in North America.  It is the other half of the book with all 550+ Caribbean birds that gets my heart a'poundin' with excitement.

The notes for each species are 'just right'.  They succinctly point out in plain language the field notes, voice, habitat, and distribution.  Arlott smartly indicates which months they are likely to be seen.  Easy to understand and intelligently color-coded distribution maps are found near the back of the book.

Simple and simply beautiful...this is the bird book that every West Indies visitor, birders and vacationers alike, will want to have in hand.

(My free review copy of this book was provided by Princeton University Press.)

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