Five families of birds make up the group that could be referred to as the Cotingas and Manakins, which in turn include species with such colorful names as “Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin,” “Bare-necked Fruitcrow,” “Peruvian Plantcutter,” and “White-browed Purpletuft.” And certainly, you’ve heard of the Andean Cock-of-theRock. These birds and their relatives are THE famous colorful amazing birds of the Neotropics, the birds people who go to the Jungles of Central and South America go to see. “… the song of the Xcreaming Piha,… the loudest bird on Earth, is used by moviemakers to epitomize jungle soudns the world over, no just in its native South America,” we are told by the authors of Cotingas and Manakins, an amazing new book that you need to either add to your collection right now or give to your favorite birder.

This volume by Guy Kirwan and Graeme Green (no relation) is a thorough and nearly comprehensive guide to the largest groups of South American bird species, including all of the usual key features. There are numerous photographs, excellent maps including both details of movement and migration and, most intriguingly, information about what is NOT known about the distributions of some of the species, so when you are in the field looking at them you can wonder if you’ve discovered something not previously known.

The book covers over 130 species in detail, with 34 color plates (drawings) by Eustace Barnes, and about 400 color photographs and numerous maps. From the authors…”The aim of the book is… to summarise all of the available information on cotingas and manakins in such a way that readers are enthuses to discover more about the birds themselves.” The authors mentioned above and other contributors to the book are all experts in these birds and this region.

This is not a pocket guide; It is a big thick book that is almost 700 pages long, on nice high quality paper. But if you are going to the rain forests of Central or South America you will need to bring it along with your binoculars. Have a nice trip!

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