Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Neotropical Birds of Prey

In the mailbox today, Neotropical Birds of Prey: Biology and Ecology of a Forest Raptor Community.

I've barely had time to flip through the pages, but this book looks like a much-needed piece of work on the ecology of this top-of-the-food-chain bird group. The book, with contributions from 26 authors, is divided into 23 chapters. All chapters are from the Maya Project (Chapter 1) and are focused on a single raptor community occurring in the Maya Forest (Chapter 2) of northern Guatemala. The following 20 chapters are species-centric, and include Gray-headed Kite, Hook-billed Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Double-toothed Kite, Plumbeous Kite, Bicolored Hawk, Crane Hawk, White Hawk, Great Black Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Crested Eagle, Black Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Barred Forest-Falcon, Collared Forest-Falcon, Laughing Falcon, Bat Falcon, Orange-breasted Falcon, Mexican Wood Owl, and Black-and-white Owl. The final chapter provides a discussion on the ecology and conservation of Tikal`s raptor fauna.

The great thing about this book is that it's readable. Much of it is natural history, supported quantitatively with easy to understand information such as average distance between nest sites, number of identified prey items, body mass, food niche breadth, and other useful metrics.

While I can't yet say how good the book is, I would say that for a restricted region, it is of the calibre of Palmer's Handbook of North American Raptors or Johnsgards Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of North America. Very much looking forward to wading into this book!

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