Blog Home

Comparing Colombia's field guides

Comparisons of Hilty's 2021 and 1986 field guides, along with guides by Miles McMullan and Fernando Ayerbe-Quinones

Book Reviews, New Book Announcements

Birds of Colombia [Flexi binding]

New Arrival: Birds of Colombia

The new Birds of Colombia by Steven L. Hilty published in the Lynx and BirdLife International Field Guide series is the ultimate modern field guide to a country with more species than any other country in the world. Hilty and William L. Brown authored the first comprehensive field guide to Colombia’s birds with color illustrations principally by Guy Tudor in 1986. In recent years two compact field guides have been published, the first Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia by Miles McMullan and Thomas Donegan (2010, 2014) and the second Birds of Colombia by Fernando Ayerbe-Quinones (2018, 2019). The former is currently out of print, but we understand a new edition is in preparation. The latter weighs less than half than that of Hilty and is quite portable, but with limited text as one might expect.  

Producing Hilty’s Birds of Colombia was a major collaborative effort:  from Lynx came the knowledge from publishing the massive 17 volumes of Handbook of the Birds of the World and the color illustrations produced by 30 artists; the taxonomic expertise of both Birdlife International and Lynx; and the audio, video, and photo resources available from the Cornell Lab’s eBird website via QR codes at each species account. While the text appears abbreviated, the use of one or  two letter codes allows coverage of identification, similar species, status, alternative names, and size. Text, color  illustrations, QR codes, and range maps are compactly place together. In sum, Birds of Colombia  is a superb field guide and worth every ounce of its nearly four pounds.

Allen Hale
Senior Buyer
Buteo Books
2731 Arrington Road
Arrington, VA 22922


For birders, Colombia really is number one! Not only have more species been recorded there than in any other country, but almost one-fifth of the world's birds occur in Colombia, packed into an area slightly greater than 1,100,000 km2.

Stretching east to west from the Orinoco River to the Pacific Ocean, and north to south from the Caribbean to Amazonian headwaters, the country's topography is remarkably diverse. Here, the Andes are separated into three ranges by two important valleys, the Cauca and the Magdalena, and there are two very important massifs, Santa Marta and Perija, in the north of the country - in particular, the Santa Marta range is one of the great endemic hotspots in the world. In recent years, a series of standard birding routes has evolved, many of them focused on the country's privately and publicly owned protected areas, permitting keen birders to see nearly all of Colombia's many special birds, from extravagantly plumaged parrots and hummingbirds to skulking antpittas.

Nevertheless, in South America the capacity to escape the beaten track and make novel findings is perhaps nowhere better than Colombia, as exemplified by the recent discovery of an apparently new species of antpitta close to the city of Cali. 

Features:  2089 species and subspecies groups; 111 endemics, 85 near-endemics, 3 introduced, 69 vagrants. Over 3000 illustrations and close to 2000 distribution maps.

Detailed texts covering status, habitat and behavior, age, sex and geographical variation, voice, and confusion species. Almost 3000 illustrations covering all species and distinctive subspecies, birds in flight, males and females, juveniles and non-breeding plumages, where appropriate. QR code for each species, linked to complementary audiovisual material. Close to 2000 full-color range maps for all regularly occurring species. Well-marked subspecies groups receive full accounts, and the distributions of subspecies breeding in the region are clearly mapped. Local species names included.

(5/5, 1 vote) my rating:
overall rating:

Please log in to leave a comment.