Field guides and references

Field Guides

A good field guide will help to identify birds, as well as provide information about their appearance, plumage variations, habitat, behaviour, migration, calls and breeding. There is a wide choice of field guides available on Australian birds

Title

Author(s)

Publisher

Comments

#Field Guide to Australian Birds

Michael Morcombe

Steve Parish Publishing, Archerfield, Qld

Has an extensive section on nests and eggs.  Quick index inside both covers.

Field Guide to Australian Birds: Complete Compact Edition

Michael Morcombe

Steve Parish Publishing, Archerfield, Qld

Small and light.  Similar to above, but nest and egg section omitted. Quick index inside both covers.

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia

Ken Simpson & Nicolas Day

Viking, Penguin Group, Camberwell, Vic.

Includes a section on breeding seasons.  Quick index near front.

The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds

Peter, Pat & Raoul Slater

Reed New Holland, Frenchs Forest, NSW

Small and light.  Eggs are illustrated.

#The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia

Graham Pizzey & Frank Knight

HarperCollins, Pymble, NSW

Quick pictorial index inside front cover.  Section on classifying and naming birds.

Birds of Prey of Australia: A Field Guide

Stephen Debus

CSIRO Publishing

This second edition includes a field guide, coloured plates and a guide to identifying difficult species.

Australian birds: a concise photographic field guide.

Donald and Molly Trounson

Wingfield: Bluestone Press, (2005 reprint).

Photographic field guide

Photographic field guide: Birds of Australia

Flegg, Jim.

Frenchs Forest: New Holland, (2002 2nd edition).

Photographic field guide

# Both of these field guides are also available as apps


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Some of the earlier field guides, now out of print, contain interesting and valuable information which does not appear in later editions.  These can often be bought cheaply in second-hand bookshops. 

  • They include:
  • Pizzey, Graham and Roy Doyle. A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Collins, 1986.
  • Slater, Peter. A Field Guide to Australian Birds (2 Volumes).  Rigby, 1970 (non-passerines), 1974 (passerines)
  • Cayley, Neville. What Bird is That? A Guide to the Birds of Australia.  Angus and Robertson, 1931.

Quick Indexes for Some Popular Field Guides

There are quick indexes available for some older editions of some field guides. These indexes were produced by Bob Forsyth dated 29 November 2002 but are still useful since these editions are still much-thumbed within our birding community.

    The following links access small Word document indexes for these guides:

  • Stephen Debus, The Birds of Prey of Australia - A Field Guide to Australian Raptors. Oxford University Press / Birds Australia, 1998.
  • Michael Morcombe, Field Guide to Australian Birds, about 2002.
  • Pizzey, Graham and Knight, Frank, Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, about 2002.
  • Simpson, Ken & Day, Nicolas, Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (5th & 6th Editions)
  • Slater, Raoul, The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, about 2002.
field guides graphic
Your field guide has all the answers... well, almost! Photo: C.Ivin

Other Recent References

These references are useful after the birder returns home to checkout the days contacts:

  • Higgins, Peter et al (eds) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vols 1-7. (HANZAB) South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1993-2006. This is the definitive reference book on Australian birds.
  • Christidis, Les and Walter E Boles.. Systematics andTaxonomy of Australian Birds. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing, 2008.
  • Geering, Andrew, et al. Shorebirds of Australia. Collingwood: CSIRO, 2007.
  • Barrett, Geoff et al.: The New Atlas of Australian Birds. Hawthorn East: Birds Australia, 2003.

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Older References

Generally, these refer to references prior to 2000:

  • Beruldsen, Gordon.  Which Bird of Prey is That? Kenmore Hills. 1995.  Reprinted 2004.
  • Trounson, Donald and Molly. Australia: Land of Birds.  Sydney: Collins, 1987.  (Photographic guide)
  • Frith, H J.(cons ed). Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds.  Surry Hills: Reader’s Digest Services, 1976. (1st ed)
  • Macdonald,J D. Birds of Australia.  Sydney: AH and AW Reed, 1973.

There are 10 volumes in the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, now out of print.  They contain excellent images, and detailed information. They are:

  • Boles, W E. The Robins and Flycatchers of Australia. National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife. Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1988.
  • Crome, F and Shields, J. Parrots and Pigeons of Australia. National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1992
  • Lindsey, T R. The Seabirds of Australia. National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife. Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1986.
  • Longmore, N W. The Honeyeaters and their Allies of Australia. National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife. Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1991.
  • Olsen, P, Crome, F and Olsen, J. The Birds of Prey and Ground Birds of Australia. National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1993.
  • Pringle, J D. The Shorebirds of Australia. National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife. Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1987.
  • Pringle, J D. The Waterbirds of Australia. National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife. Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1985.
  • Serventy, V N (ed) .The Wrens and Warblers of Australia. Australian Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1982.
  • Strahan, R (ed). Cuckoos, Nightbirds and Kingfishers of Australia. Australian Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1994.
  • Strahan, R (ed.). Finches, Bowerbirds and Other Passerines of Australia. National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Australian Museum with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1996.

Queensland Museum Publications

The Queensland Museum has published a series of Wild Guides, which include information about birds as well as other wildlife. These include:

  • Wild Guide to Moreton Bay, and
  • Wildlife of Tropical North Queensland.

In addition, the Museum has published two small books which are both useful and inexpensive:

  • Greg Czechura and Chris Field: Raptors of Southern Queensland
    Greg Czechura: Birds of Brisbane

This reference list is by no means comprehensive.  There are many other excellent books relating to birds in Australia.

The Birds Queensland Library contains an excellent collection of books and videos, available to members.  The catalogue can be accessed through the Members section of this website.

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