New Book: “Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide”

When it comes to the birds of South Asia, Pamela Rasmussen wrote the book on it. Literally. Twice.

Rasmussen, Michigan State University assistant professor of zoology and assistant curator of mammalogy and ornithology at the MSU Museum, recently completed the second edition of the two-volume “Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide.”

The second edition features the newest findings on classifications and vocalizations. It features several new species to the region, including newly discovered species. One new species, observed for the first time this year, is a Great Nicobar Crake photographed foraging on Great Nicobar Island.

The field guide also has short vocal descriptions as well as sonograms, which visually chart bird sounds, from screeches and trills to chirps and warbles. The new guide is being released as a paperback, which makes it easier to tote in the field.

“The field guide volume has short voice descriptions for almost every species, so it is more user-friendly,” says Rasmussen, a former research associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.  ”Several species new to South Asia – and even two species new to science – are now illustrated and featured in the new book.”

Along with writing the authoritative book, Rasmussen also has pioneered work to document and catalog bird vocalizations from around the world.

At MSU, Rasmussen founded the Avian Vocalization Center, a database providing free downloads of bird sounds of more than 4,000 species around the world, including sonograms, photos and maps of their habitat.

The book was produced jointly by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, MSU Museum, MSU’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, and Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.–Source:  Michigan State University

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