Guide to Birds of the West Indies

i-2f51ca83014b35de7d97723f26b9152d-westindiesbird-thumb-300x436-65557.jpg The West Indies includes the Lucayan Archipelago (Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands); the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola [Dominican Republic and Haiti], Jamaica, Cayman Islands); the Lesser Antilles (Leeward Islands [the Virgin Islands of Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, Saint John, Water Island, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke], Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua, Barbuda, Redonda, Saint Martin, Saba, Saint Eustatius, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat Guadeloupe); the Windward Islands (Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago), and the Leeward Antilles (Aruba, Curaçao. amd Bonaire). I may have missed a few.

Otherwise known as the Caribbean Islands, for the most part these islands are all high points on a large inland sea (which is mostly open to the ocean). It is the wintering grounds as well as the year round residence of numerous birds. If you live in the central or eastern US or Canada, a lot of birds show up in the spring; Many of those winter in the Caribbean. Of these birds, most, about 550, are nicely depicted, Peterson-style, in Norman Arlott's abbreviated "checklist" style Birds of the West Indies: (Princeton Illustrated Checklists)

This book does not have much front matter telling you about bird watching, bird biology, bird ecology, or bird conservation. It dives right in to the plats and descriptions, which are organized by basic bird type with between 5 and 10 or so bird species per page (and more drawing where necessary). This is probably good if you are, say, a US based tourist and want to bring the bird book in your luggage and don't need to learn what birdwatching is on your two week trip to Jamaica. For those who want more, consider A Guide to the Birds of the West Indies, which I have not seen, but that is by the same author and which is, according to the publishers, more than twice the pages and of a somewhat larger format, and quite a bit more expensive (but surely worth it if you live in or regularly visit the region).

The range maps, which are very important as the biogeography of the West Indies is complicated and interesting, are all at the back of the book. At first I thought this would be annoying but it is in the end necessary: Many birds occur on some tiny cluster of islands ... as it is the maps are as small as they can be without losing utility, and at this size they are too big to put with the birds, if one also wants to have appropriate groupings of similar birds.

The drawings are high quality, the stock and binding are sturdy (I've got a paperback) and the book is in the standard field guide size range. If you are going to the West Indies and you're a birder, you'll want this.

More like this

Earl may threaten the US Virgin Islands and Pueto Rico with hurricane force winds. These areas will be affected by tropical storm force winds. Antigua, Barbuda, Monserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, Saint Martin and Satin Barthelemy, St. Marten, Saba and St. Eustatius are under hurricane…
If you are a birder and you are going on Spring Break (from the US), don't forget that there are birds where you are going. And, probably, there are bird books that cover your destination. One of the really cool things about North American birding is that when you do go down to tye Yucatan,…
tags: Birdbooker Report, bird books, animal books, natural history books, ecology books "How does one distinguish a truly civilized nation from an aggregation of barbarians? That is easy. A civilized country produces much good bird literature." --Edgar Kincaid The Birdbooker Report is a special…
First, a little Benazir Bhutto story, since we are on the subject of women leaders. A friend of mine was to be on the podium of Harvard's graduation the year Benazir Bhutto was to give the keynote, and heard this conversation. John Galbraith, the economists who was also a professor at Harvard,…

Geographically the Virgin Islands are part of the Greater Antilles being among the archipelago of small islands and cays that lie on the Puerto Rican Bank east of Puerto Rico. They include the Puerto Rican islands of Culebra and Vieques and the United States and British Virgin Islands with the exception of St. Croix. The Virgin Islands are separated from the Lesser Antilles by the deep Anegada Passage

Of course, the alternative (but older) reference book on the subject is "Birds of the West Indies" by a certain
James Bond (ornithologist) (1900â1989) :-)

He was the man from whom Ian Fleming 'borrowed' the name for his spy stories.

Not many people know that, so I thought it worth a mention here Greg :-)