The book contains a succinct 17-page General Introduction that starts with a historical background, which in essence is a summary of the historical to present day sources of information on the avifauna. As one might anticipate, the following sections describe the topography and climate, topographic regions, vegetation zones, and habitats. Unlike most field guides in this series, the distinctive birds inhabiting each vegetation zone or habitat are not mentioned in any detail, presumably because this would take up a lot of space and is not necessarily useful to users of the guide. There is also a brief section on Bird Conservation in Colombia, a country with at least 14 Critically Endangered species, 35 Endangered species, and 84 Vulnerable species. A sobering 54% of the 93-94 endemics are already considered threatened.
Interestingly, ‘Army ants’ are treated as a habitat by Hilty, an odd concept perhaps, but I think correct in the context of the professional (obligate) ant-following species that have proliferated in neotropical forests (particularly in the Amazon) and are usually only ever seen in association with foraging army ants. These professional ant-following species largely comprise antbirds and woodcreepers, and, as demonstrated by long-term monitoring on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, this mobile habitat is critical to the survival of some of these species. In addition, many other species frequently attend army-ant swarms, including a striking assemblage of army-ant following skippers, as well as various birds, and these ants are clearly keystone species in their ecosystems. Some of the other habitats that support interesting suites of endemic or near-endemic species that readers may not be so familiar with include sandy-soil forest, Várzea forest, and Amazonian river islands.