The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Davis, William E., Jr.
Pub Date: 03/01/2012
Publication: Name: The Wilson Journal of Ornithology Publisher: Wilson Ornithological Society Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Wilson Ornithological Society ISSN: 1559-4491
Issue: Date: March, 2012 Source Volume: 124 Source Issue: 1
Topic: NamedWork: The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia, 2d ed. (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Thomas, Richard; Thomas, Sarah; Andrew, David; McBride, Alan
Accession Number: 285207268
Full Text: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO FINDING THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA. Second Edition. By Richard Thomas, Sarah Thomas, David Andrew, and Alan McBride. CSIRO Publishing, Coilingwood, Victoria, Australia. 2011:463 pages, 28 black-and-white and 64 color photographs, and 77 maps. ISBN: 978-0-643-09785-8. USD 42.95 (paperback).--This excellent book is an expanded and updated version of the book by Richard and Sarah Thomas published in 1996 (Frogmouth Publications, Oakington, England, 280 pages), which set the standard for bird finding in Australia. This new edition with its added two highly experienced birdwatcher authors will once again set the standard. The book has a section entitled 'States and Territories' that presents birding sites by state starting with Victoria in southeastern Australia, then proceeds further south to the island-state of Tasmania and then continues counterclockwise through New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia. This edition has an added chapter with site guides to 'Australia's islands and external territories,' which include such far flung places as Lord Howe, Christmas, and Macquarie islands.

The coverage of each state begins with a map of the state with the areas covered demarcated (e.g., for Victoria: Melbourne area, Southwestern Victoria, etc.) and numerical reference to each site discussed in the text. The introductory material includes a list of endemic species and bird specialties of the state. Then follows a detailed examination of each site, in many cases including a map. Each site section includes a list of key species, and in the text the bird names are printed in bold face, which makes finding a particular species in the text easy. The site guide descriptions provide names, telephone numbers, e-mall addresses, or web sites of landowners or government offices that need to be consulted prior to visiting and, where prudent, wam of potential threats (e.g., at Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve in the Northern Territory: "(beware of crocodiles and snakes)" (page 120). Directions are clear and concise. For the areas that I know best (Tasmania, parts of Western Australia, and the Alice Springs area) I found the directions excellent. There is also a chapter on pelagic birding with internet sites, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers provided to facilitate lining up pelagic trips. A substantial portion of the book (pages 201-393) is a section entitled 'Bird Finder Guide,' which includes a section of 64 color photographs of Australian birds. The photographs really make you want to drop everything and head for Australia. The bird finder guide text presents a paragraph (some short, some long) on each of the 700+ species that occur in Australia (excluding vagrants and introduced species, which are covered in appendices).

The species are presented in taxonomic order and for each family there is a brief presentation of interesting features of its Australian species. Each species account includes the range and status, and in many cases references the relevant sections of the site guides. Appendices include, in addition to vagrants and accidentals and introduced species, a glossary of vegetation, landscape, and more general terms such as 'platelet,' a circular scrape made by buttonquail (Turnix spp.) while feeding in litter. A final appendix is a directory that deals with planning a trip, timing, arranging transport, accommodations, climate, and various hazards, as well as equipment such as CDs and field guides and important telephone numbers and web sites in each state that might be useful. The three indices cover common names, scientific names, and sites.

This book is loaded with essential information for anyone planning to sort out Australian birds on their own, or planning research on a specific group of birds or in a particular area. Much has changed in the world of bird watching in Australia in the 15 years since the first edition of this book originally became available. The increase in communications and the ease of retrieving information due to advances in internet, cell phones, and global positioning system technology has expanded the horizons of bird watching and facilitated field research. The intensifying of floods and droughts in recent years, presumably a result of global warming, has changed many Australian landscapes. The two new authors of this edition have revisited 90% of the original sites and many of the changes that have occurred are reflected in this new edition. This is a comprehensive guide, well-written and well-illustrated. I cannot imagine planning a trip to Australia and not having a copy of this book.--WILLIAM E. DAVIS JR., Professor Emeritus, Boston University, 23 Knollwood Drive, East Falmouth, MA 02536, USA; e-mail:
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