Bird identification books are utilitarian. No matter the skill with paint brush or camera or keyboard, they are utilities.
“Raptors of Mexico and Central America” is that and more. From Princeton University Press, this book gives you all of the utility plus over 200 pages of life histories and in many cases stunning photographs.
Give the birds some credit. North America has beautiful raptor species, but nothing quite like the Great Black Hawk, the Black and White Eagle, the Collared Forest Falcon, the Plumbeous Hawk, the Barred Hawk.
The book covers 69 species, including vagrants and all raptor species found in the U.S. These birds either have ranges that extend south or are seasonal migrants. They make this book helpful to birders who never visit Mexico or Central America. There are range maps for the countries covered.
Thirty-two excellent color plates offer the usual basic ID information. There are over 200 color photos, some of them full-page. The photos and accompanying text comprise the bulk of the book. Each bird is discussed in several hundred words describing biology and behavior.
Photos are by William S. Clark, photographer, tour guide, and lecturer. Previous books include “A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors.” N. John Schmitt provided the artwork. He also illustrated “A Field Guide to the Raptors of Europe.”
This is a hardcover book with jacket, sewn binding, 304 pages on substantial stock, indexed, with tips on field identification of raptors, a glossary, and the usual illustrated guide to bird nomenclature, $39.95.
Also from Princeton: Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, a Photographic Guide. Authors are Frederic Jiguet and Aurelian Audevard, translated from French. There are 2,200 color photos and maps. Photos are by Audevard. This is an exceptional collection of photos, which can be problematic in ID books. The photos are printed at extremely high resolution. That many photos and so many birds in 443 pages is asking a lot, but all is crisply delivered.
Paper covers, 5.25x7.5 inches, $29.95.