Cover image for Trogons, laughing falcons, and other neotropical birds
Trogons, laughing falcons, and other neotropical birds
Skutch, Alexander F. (Alexander Frank), 1904-2004.
First edition.
Publication Information:
College Station, Tex. : Texas A & M University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 222 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL685.7 .S58 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Renowned naturalist Alexander F. Skutch 's critically acclaimed book The Minds of Birds first introduced a controversial review of bird behavior. Now, in possibly his last book on birds, he reflects on a memorable career brimmed with discovery and controversy.Trogons, Laughing Falcons, and Other Neotropical Birds looks at the lifetime dedication of an expert naturalist who for seventy years has studied birds in tropical America, from Mexico to Peru and Venezuela. A pair of Violaceous Trogons, the only New World birds known to nest in an arboreal ants' nest; a pair of Laughing Falcons, the only raptors that might be called friends of small birds; hummingbirds who learn the songs they repeat in courtship assemblies that attract females; soaring kites that catch insects with their feet instead of their bills, as flycatchers do; and other notable birds are covered in "vintage" Skutch style.Skutch also tells of the only wild birds he has ever raised from eggs, two Gray-headed Chachalacas who became strongly attached to their foster parents. These and other unpublished observations on Neotropical birds, plus accounts published long ago in journals not now widely available, updated by new observations and interpretations, will add to the famous Skutch literature. His lifetime of conscientious observation and the information he imparts are invaluable and compelling.Complemented with intricate line drawings, Trogons, Laughing Falcons, and Other Neotropical Birds , an imperative addition to any ornithologist's literary collection, blends solid natural history with entertaining reading.

Author Notes

Alexander F. Skutch wrote more than twenty-five books on birds and nature, including The Minds of Birds , also published by Texas A&M University Press. He lived and worked in Costa Rica for many years.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Skutch is truly one of the grand old men of ornithology, particularly the study of birds in the neotropics. With more than 70 years of observation and more than 25 books on birds to his credit, the 94-year-old Skutch believes that this may be his last effort. Writing from his farm and nature reserve in Costa Rica, the author presents a series of short essays on some of his favorite birds. The intricate details of some of the more odd forms of behavior exhibited by these birds are revealed in Skutch's conversational text. And it is Skutch's accessible writing style that recommends his books on birds--he is able to make us see kites catching insects with their feet or the antics of a hand-raised chachalaca. Dana Gardener, who has illustrated a number of Skutch's other works, enhances the text with his finely figured pen-and-ink drawings of each species mentioned. Libraries with large bird or tropical nature sections will want to add this fine volume to their collections. --Nancy Bent

Library Journal Review

Venerable 94-year-old Skutch, author of over 25 books (Orioles, Blackbirds, and Their Kin, LJ 3/1/96), has observed nature in the tropics for 70 years, decades before "the rainforest" became the routine high-school assignment it is now. Aside from being a first-rate naturalist, he writes well, at times philosophically, andÄdangerous for a scientistÄemotionally. His new book has 19 chapters on a potpourri of subjects: various hummingbirds, flycatchers, snake-eating birds, and such unusual topics as "birdlike monkeys," "the strenuous lives of migratory birds," and "the birds I love." Much of the action centers around Skutch's farm in Costa Rica. Like his other books, this one has abundant insight and unique, first-hand observations of the lives of tropical animals and plants. For academic and larger public libraries.ÄHenry T. Armistead, Free Lib. of Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

No tropical naturalist has had a longer publishing career than Skutch. His 70 years of dedicated field observations in the neotropics (particularly Costa Rica) have yielded 25 books on birds and nature. During decades of writing he became known for detailed studies of birdlife and he has been widely honored for his contributions to the ornithological literature. In this popular book, Skutch reflects on highlights from his tropical career with 20 essays (chapters) that span half a century. Most of the narrative is devoted to the remarkable birdlife that he loves and knows so well, but he also writes knowledgeable accounts of the insects, mammals, and other animals as well as plant life. As with many of his writings, this book artfully presents solid natural history with entertaining reading. His personal sensitivity to the environment and his concerns for nature are evident throughout. Each essay usually features one or several tropical bird species, and the text is complemented with an attractive pen-and-ink drawing of the featured species. Birders and tropical biologists will enjoy this informative collection of "vintage" Skutch. General readers; upper-division undergraduates; graduate students. C. Leck; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick