19. november 2012

Handbook of the birds of Bolivia

After working on illustrations of plant species from Greenland my attention is now shifting back to the birdlife of Bolivia. A new working session is beginning, and this time hopefully we will complete the work, so that the book can be released.

I am assigned to, among others, hummingbirds, parrots, nightjars and allies and, as this illustration shows, tinamous. It is great being back working with museum specimens, field notes etc. trying to squeeze as much information out of the material as possible. Often I have to base my interpretation of the bird skins on photographs and field observations of related species. This is partly due to the rarity of certain species, but also, when you are in the field, observations are often brief and when it comes to e.g. tinamous merely seeing and identifying the bird is often what must be regarded as a "good observation". It is a question of adding up ones experience and trying to get to grips with things like e.g. how the birds move. How do e.g. Tinamus-species place their feet? Do they raise the crest? How do they move their heads? All these things one has to learn during field observations and sketching and later one can try and look at photographs to determine if what they show correspond with ones "feeling for the bird". I have noticed, that photographs taken under field conditions in dense rainforest often shows the bird much grayer than what you experience in the field and when examining specimens. As you can see much of the work involved when illustrating a book is a process inside ones head.

But loads of material coming out from this process certainly exists, e.g. in the form of sketches, and not least in the form of photographs showing branches, leaves, flowers and little blurry birds in the darkness of neotropical forest cover.

And also in the form of photographs of bird specimens. During my research I have build quite a large collection of photographs of south american bird specimens, wich I should like to make available on the www for other people as well, but that will require something more than this blog.

four bolivian tinamous. The lower two from this week, the upper two from 2010
Andean-, red-winged-, huayco- and black tinamous.

Huayco tinamous photographed at Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Stockholm.