“I wish that this guide had been published when I visited Ecuador in 2012,” I exclaimed when author, Lelis Navarrette showed us a copy of the Fieldbook of the Birds of Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands, published by the Fundacion de conservation Jocotoco (2013).
Later on the trip I had the opportunity to review it in-depth. The forward was written by Dr. Robert Ridgely whose two-volume, The Birds of Ecuador: Field Guide with Paul Greenfield has long been the only thorough field guide. I travel light, so when I purchased Ridgeley’s guide, I removed the colored plates, three-hole punched them and put them in a notebook – still bulkier than this new guide.
It is a tribute to this new guide that in his foreword Ridgely describes Lelis Navarrette as “one of the finest field birders anywhere in Latin America.” That was certainly my experience traveling with him in Peru. Ridgely also acknowledges that a guide of this type has long been needed.
While we were staying at the Manu Wildlife Center, Lelis loaned me his copy of the Fieldbook of the Birds of Ecuador to review.
Not only is it in a convenient-for-travel size, it has all the information that a traveling birder needs – distinguishing points of identification, drawing with sufficient detail, range map, habitat and abundance.
I picked one family to review in-depth – Trogonidae – Quetzals and Trogons. Ecuador has 15 species. In the overall family description it tells us that they are medium to large forest birds; eat both fruit and arthropods captured in short flights, are ‘otherwise lethargic and inconspicuous.’ They are described as solitary or in pairs and found mid-height to upper canopy and rarely vocalize. It tells us that the “English names are often unhelpful” in identification.
The illustration of each species’ size is given in both centimeters and inches. The following is a sample page of illustrations that was provided by Amazon.
It also indicates whether a species is endangered or an endemic. Its inclusion of the birds of the Galapagos Islands means that only one field guide is necessary for travel to both locations.
The guide combines the artistic talents of Miles McMullen with Lelis Navarrette’s years of field experience to provide the birding traveler with an excellent field guide. In keeping with Navarrette’s commitment as a founding member of Fundacion de conservation Jocotoco, proceeds from this book will go to support the work of the foundation.
I would heartily recommend this book to any birder traveling to Ecuador.
UPDATE – UNFORTUNATELY, THIS BOOK IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT.