THE AUSTRALIAN BIRD GUIDE by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack and Kim Franklin, CSIRO Publishing, 2017

Paperback | May 2017 | $ 49.95
ISBN: 9780643097544 | 576 pages | 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour Paintings, Maps – See more at:

At 576 pages, this is a large, comprehensive review of Australia’s more than 900 bird species. It has many excellent features, the first being a visual quick reference guide at the beginning of the book, with birds appearing in their related groups and with page numbers to find them quickly. The three main groups are marine and coastal birds, freshwater birds, and land birds.

There is an interesting chapter giving the latest findings on the evolution and classification of Australian birds and also one on birding in Australia giving tips on where to find birds. This includes an important section on ethical birding—the use of playback bird calls etc. The layout is clear with excellent diagrams for identification of the birds and opposite these are very informative sections on their behaviour and appearance. These pages also include a map of Australia showing, in colour, the occurrence of the birds and their different subspecies.

The authors have paid particular attention to online bird forums for the last decade. Author Peter Menkhorst says:
“We developed a detailed understanding of the bird groups that regularly caused confusion for birders, and paid particular attention to demystifying those groups in this guide.”

A feature that I found particularly useful was a short paragraph at the beginning of each section of birds describing the differences by which these birds can be distinguished from other members of the same family. For example, the section on cockatoos explains why they are cockatoos and not corellas. All in all this is an extremely useful and comprehensive reference guide to have in your library.

Jonica Foss