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Cover from Birds of the High Andes. Colour Plate 25 from Birds of the High Andes.

Birds of the High Andes

By Jon Fjeldså and Niels Krabbe. 1990. 17 x 24 cm. 880 pages. 64 painted colour plates by Jon Fjeldså. 937 distribution maps and numerous text illustrations.
ISBN 87-88757-16-1.
Price excluding postage EUR 121.00  / DKK 890.

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Birds of the High Andes

This long awaited and much needed field-guide, written by two of the leading explorers of the birdlife of the High Andes, sets new standards in this field. The book is illustrated by Jon Fjeldsa, one of the World's most gifted bird artists, who again has proved his accuracy with fine plumage details as well as masterly renditions of the general impression and shape. Almost a tenth of the World's nine thousand species of birds are illustrated, many for the first time. Both males, females, young, and distinct subspecies are shown. The 64 beautifully composed color plates depict over two thousand plumages. This is supplemented with several hundred line-drawings of birds.

Rather than covering a single country whose boundaries have been determined by man, this book treats a naturallife-zone: the temperate and alpine zones of the entire Andean mountain range through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. This region holds barren deserts, rolling grasslands, wetlands, mountain slopes with scrub-steppe and alpine meadows, tremendous cliffs, and snow-capped peaks. The zone also includes steep hills enwrapped in mossy, humid montane forests. These forests are exceedingly diverse, housing 6.3% of all bird species on only 0.2% of the World's land surface.

The book includes all species recorded within the zone covered. It is a remarkable achievement in terms of new data, accuracy, and condensation of information, gathered by the authors over a ten-year period spent in the field, in libraries, and museums. The Andean literature and all major museum collections were studied, and all other experts on high Andean birds consulted. Thus, the book holds the most up-to-date information, and even describes a number of forms not yet formally named. Its authors have endeavoured to give a broad and detailed account of Andean bird-life, with the hope that it may serve not only as a fieldguide, but also as an informed reference book. The text gives extensive general reviews of each bird family, with information on biology and adaptations. The species accounts describe all Andean subspecies and plumages (including juvenile, and downy young of nidifugeous species), "jizz", typical habits, voices, breeding, and habitat selection. Written accounts of range and abundance are supplemented with 937 distribution maps. The typical highland birds receive the most detailed treatment, while casual visitors are treated more briefly.

Furthermore, the book gives an extensive description of the natural history of the Andean zone, and how the ecosystems are influenced by man. There are also reviews of the classification of birds, practical hints for field-work in the high Andes, lists of useful addresses, and extensive bibliographies.

It is the hope of the authors that the book will inspire a large audience to explore this poorly known region, and help improve the scanty knowledge of its extremely rich birdlife. It is also hoped that this book will be catalytic for the development of environmental awareness in the Andean states.

One third of the sales price of the book (including the authors' royalties) will be invested in a fund supporting further research on Andean birds and the conservation of their habitats.