The australian bird guidePrinceton University Press has had a great year introducing new bird guides.  First across my desk was Raptors of Mexico and Central Mexico.  Raptors can offer a real identification challenge so this new guide was a welcome addition.

Next was the gorgeous Birds of India Guide. This guide featured over 4,000 stunning photographs of birds of India and the surrounding area.  (Both reviewed previously.)

The latest to arrive is the masterful “The Australian Bird Guide” with a blue cover.  The books skilled authors are Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies,  and Peter Marsack.

The guide includes information on over 900 species, with 249 color plates and 4,000 beautifully drawn color images!

The descriptive information for each species is almost encyclopedic in nature, more than any other general field guide that I have seen.  Range maps are included for each species and a Visual Quick Reference guide to the different bird groups is included on the inside front cover and facing page.  This feature will be a great aid to anyone not already familiar with the great diversity of birds and habitats in Australia.

A nice touch is a narrow red ribbon attached to the spine of the book that can be used to mark a particular page in the guide.  This built-in bookmark will be very handy when studying a particular plate, especially when several species are very similar in appearance.

raptor images for the new australian bird guide

Sample plate from the Australian Bird Guide. Identification notes are included on most images in the guide.

The guides is roughly the size of the original Sibley guide, but slightly wider and quite heavy.  Most people will find it too large and heavy to slip in their pocket but will find it a great resource to have in the car.  On two previous trips to Australia I used the Slater guide to Australian birds, a smaller guide easy to carry in the field and an excellent guide in its own right.   The two guides together would be a perfect combination for birders visiting Australia.

For anyone contemplating a visit to the island continent, Australia is home to some of the most beautiful birds in the world, and some are quite common.  There are also some very challenging identification problems, so this new guide will come in very handy.

For those looking for something extra-special on a visit to Australia I recommend some time on Heron Island, located on the Great Barrier Reef.  Sir David Attenborough considers it one of his most magical places on earth.  If you spend time there you will also.  My wife and I spent a week on the island several years ago diving and relaxing.  At the right time of year birders will find 100,000 Black Noddys and 30,000 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters nesting on the island. Other resident birds include:

Bar Shouldered Dove
Black-Faced Cuckoo-Shrike
Buff Banded Rail  (One walked right onto our porch.   The birds on the island are not generally afraid of humans.)
Capricorn Silver Eye
Eastern Reef Egret (formally known as a Reef Heron)
Sacred Kingfisher
Silver Gull
White-Bellied Sea Eagle


Where to go first?
So India, Australia or Mexico and Central America – a tough choice but any of these new guides will make your birding trip much more successful.


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