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Birds of Australia – A Photographic Guide by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods and Nick Leseberg with photographs by Geoff Jones. Princeton University Press, 2015.

“This is a delightfully helpful and compact handbook on Australian birds. The book is easy to hold and will fit in the luggage of an intrepid, amateur birder making the occasional short trips to Australia.

“While the amateur birder may be familiar with the general silhouettes of birds from different families, keying the bird to its species remains challenging. This book has organised the birds by family groups and compares closely related families for similar and distinguishing features. There is comprehensive coverage of species in each family. The coloured plates show up the brilliant colours of the birds with high fidelity, more often with more feather details than what we have been able to observe in the field. The plumage of males, females, juveniles, breeding and non-breeding stages are useful in diffusing confusion to non-Australian resident bird watchers. Some of the beautiful shots captured the colour markings of the dorsal or ventral views of the wing or body. Many of the pictures showed up the habitats of the birds as well. The book also foretells the many other wonderful species of each family that we may encounter on our forays.

“Some of the birds, like raptors, are categorised together and pictures of them placed side by side help newly minted bird watchers tell them apart. Details on colour of the rump and the characteristics of the wings are pointed out to good effects on Page 118 – 129.

“The distribution maps for each described species aid birders to narrow down the species. The explanations on climate types, vegetation cover and land forms enables bird watchers to maximise their encounters with birds in particular areas at specific times of the year. For example, on page 15, descriptions of pelagic and mud-flat bird watching are given.

“The colour contrast in the distribution maps could be more distinct. At times, the distribution area appears to merge with the outlines of the continent, especially to senior birders with less than acute normal and colour visions.

“The picture labelled as number 4 on page 272 appears to be a singing honeyeater rather than a yellow honeyeater.

“This is a great compendium of Australian birds culled from the combined expertise of passionate birders, their fantastic photographic equipment, patience, skill and luck. This body of work may become the ultimate record of birds that once roamed the Australian continent, as habitat loss due to human activities and climate change continue to impact on flora and fauna.”

Teo Lee Wei & K
6th January 2015

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