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Bret’s Brazil Book

June 16th, 2009 by Bret Whitney· 3 Comments

I have now birded or relaxed in, and have led Field Guides tours through, most of the enormous Republic of Brazil, and there remain just a handful of Brazil’s nearly 1900 species of birds I haven’t yet met in the field (aarrrgh, I missed the only Kinglet Calyptura in a hundred years by just a couple of days in October, 1996—my friend and Brazilian colleague Fernando Pacheco was the second of five amigos to see it!).

Bret (l.) and Fernando just before they got their lifer Stresemann’s Bristlefront (an ultrarare, endemic tapaculo-thing) in Minas Gerais, Oct. 2005 (you should have been there just after!).

Bret (l.) and Fernando just before they got their lifer Stresemann’s Bristlefront (an ultrarare, endemic tapaculo-thing) in Minas Gerais, Oct. 2005 (you should have been there just after!). (Photo by Paulo Sergio Fonseca)

In the process of getting around to find and learn about all of those species, even describing some new to science, Fernando and I decided that what Brazil needed was a good guide to field identification of its birds. And as I have continued to spend half of every year in Brazil over the past decade, it has become increasingly apparent that the very best thing that I personally could give back to Brazil, with all its wealth of ecosystems and challenges to protect them, would be to produce an authoritative, beautifully illustrated, yet very inexpensive bilingual series of regional field guides to the country’s birds.

Our project, to be published by Lynx Edicions (publishers of the Handbook of the Birds of the World series), and those of colleagues working with Princeton University Press, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and others producing field guides for Brazil are together soon going to result in a huge surge forward in the interest and fervor that an already growing number of Brazilians feel for enjoying and protecting their birds and other wildlife. Our first volume will focus on the Atlantic Forest biome of southeast and southern Brazil, where the majority of Brazilians live, where an unequaled number of endemic species have evolved, and where conservation problems are severe. I am 100% confident and optimistic that the conservation tide can and will be turned to an increasingly positive direction largely through the accessibility of birds to the Brazilian people.

Peter Burke, surrounded at far right by some of his fabulous work for the project, is, in addition to everything else in his life, one of the main artists for the Brazil field guides. He’s currently hard at work finishing the 12 raptor plates for Volume 1, all to be auctioned off to help with funding for subsequent volumes (stay tuned!).

Peter Burke, shown with some of his fabulous work for the project, is, in addition to everything else in his life, one of the main artists for the Brazil field guides. He’s currently hard at work finishing the 12 raptor plates for Volume 1, all to be auctioned off to help with funding for subsequent volumes (stay tuned!).

My co-authors are my excellent friends Luís Fábio Silveira of the University of São Paulo and, of course, Fernando, both of them incredibly knowledgeable Brazilian ornithologists and committed conservationists. As we head into the final two years of work to publish this first volume (three others will follow at much shorter intervals!), we invite all of you to contribute to our IRS-accredited, tax-deductible account at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Through low-key, unpracticed fund-raising and online investing of personal resources, I’ve gathered enough to pay artists, mapmakers, and sound-digitizers for these 10-plus years. I am deeply appreciative of all of you out there who have already contributed (and to timely picks with APPL, JBLU, and especially EWZ)!

Lynx has generously provided to me as much of their excellent HBW art as I can use, and they’re tremendously supportive of helping to produce an inexpensive Brazilian edition of the books for which none of us will receive royalties, commissions, reimbursements, or other monies—it’s truly a labor of love, and truly a conservation-enabling gift to Brazil.

Please help us make great things happen with your kind contribution to an everlasting celebration of Brazilian birds!

Contributions may be sent to:
Kristen Kepics
Science Administration
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
215.299.1065 (phone)
215.299.1079 (fax)
kepics at ansp.org (email — change ” at ” to the @ symbol to complete the address…we’ve omitted it here to avoid spam)

Checks should be made payable to “The Academy of Natural Sciences,” with “Whitney Birds of Brazil Book Project” on the memo line or in an attached note.


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