Birds of Bolivia: The sixth richest country in bird species has it first field guide

Nine authors and thirteen artist spent eleven years to gather in a single field guide the 1435 species of the sixth most diverse country in bird species: Bolivia. The “Birds of Bolivia – Field Guide” was long overdue and fills a major ornithological void both within and beyond the country’s border.

 

Published in English and Spanish in May 2017, the “Birds of Bolivia – Field Guide” is the first of its kind. The Association Armonía started considering seriously the project of a guide in 2003. Published with the support of WWF Bolivia and later the Swiss Development Agency (Cosude) the book gathers a staggering number of 1435 species of the most diverse landlocked country on Earth.

“Our work is based on 100 years of ornithological studies in Bolivia. All authors involved spent decades on the field in country.”

– said Sebastian Herzog, scientific director of Armonía and lead author of the field guide.

Plate 67 of the Birds of Bolivia Field Guide. Ilustrated by Carl Christian Tofte

One of most remarkable aspects of the making of this book is that it involved an international group of editors and artists of nine countries without the backing of any commercial publishing company. Species accounts were mostly drafted and edited in Bolivia, and two Bolivian artist contributed illustrations of 199 species. “The book is essentially a field guide made in Bolivia, for Bolivia.”– underlined Herzog, adding that “Birds of Bolivia” is also an essential tool for education and awareness-raising on bird conservation and ecotourism in a country where the birdwatching industry is still at an embryonic stage.

“A properly laid out, three-week birding tour in Bolivia can produce well over 700 species. Which other South-American country offers thirteen species of macaws, two of them endemic?”

– explains Herzog the country’s huge potential in birdwatching. Despite of its wealth in avifauna, in lack of a field guide, the country`s avifauna is not well known, so birders often hesitate to embark on birding trips to Bolivia.

There are still fairly intact habitats in the country with stunning bird diversity. Bolivia has a unique opportunity to be a global model for nature conservation with incentives for an environmentally friendly development. This leads to better conservation efforts and appreciation of the rich national biodiversity, while unleashing the economic benefits of increased ecotourism.

Armonía has years of experience coupling conservation and awareness raising with improved livelihoods and living standards for local communities. Following this vision, all revenues from the book sales will be reinvested into the country’s sustainable development.

“We will hold capacity building workshops to train naturalists and guides in rural areas that have ecotourism ventures with emphasis on community-based projects.”

– said Herzog about the sustainable business model of the Birds of Bolivia Field Guide, that also includes the production of regional field guides in Spanish to enhance local and regional knowledge of the avifauna.

The Birds of Bolivia Field Guide is currently available in Bolivia and in limited number on Buteobooks in the US.

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The Birds of Bolivia Field Guide project needs your support to produce additional regional field guides and to train local guides in rural areas to enhance community-based ecotourism in Bolivia, please donate.

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