Neotropical Birds of Prey

For this substantial book, David Whitacre edited the contributions of 25 other raptor researchers and his own which reported the major results of the Maya Project – a huge Neotropical forest raptor research study undertaken by the Peregrine Fund. It ran from 1988 to 1996, and was staffed by more than 100 field workers.
The book begins with a foreword by J Peter Jenny, the present President of the Peregrine Fund. He tells of his initial interest in Neotropical raptors, especially Orange-breasted Falcon, and how trips to the tropics with Bill Burnham, former president, resulted in the formative idea of a comprehensive raptor research project in the Neotropics. Then follow the editor’s acknowledgements and, by chapter numbers, those of the co-authors.

Chapter 1 is an overall description of the Maya Project. This was centred at Tikal, the site of Mayan ruins in the Petén Department of northern Guatemala. Researchers studied 20 of the 21 breeding forest raptors, including two owl species (owls are considered raptors in the Americas). Chapter 2 is a discussion of the paleohistory, climate, flora and fauna of this tropical forest, and includes an extensive appendix of the wildlife found at Tikal. The following chapters report the results from the studies of these 20 species, with one chapter per species.

The 24 pages of colour photos, two to eight per page, are all high quality and show raptors in the hand, field and their nests, as well as animals and habitat. Many maps, tables and graphs illustrate the findings.

This book is both attractive and definitive, and contains an amazing amount of information on Neotropical raptors. It is highly recommended for all researchers who study raptors, and is a must for those working on raptors in the Neotropics. Serious amateur raptorphiles should also find it a most interesting read.
  • Neotropical Birds of Prey edited by David F Whitacre (Comstock Publishing Associates, New York, USA, and London, in association with the Peregrine Fund, 2012).
  • 569 pages, 189 Illustrations, 24 colour plates, plus line drawings, maps, tables and graphs.
  • ISBN 9780801440793. Hardback, £46.50. Birdwatch Bookshop: from £43.50.