Contributions to the History of Australasian Ornithology

cover of Contributions to the History of Australasian Ornithology

Hardback - December 2008 - AU $25.00 On sale until 28-Feb usually AU $99.95

The essays in this volume provide stimulus and interest, as well as a source of reference, to future students of Australian ornithological history.

This book has its genesis in a symposium in 1991 at the annual meeting of the Association of Field Ornithologists, at Ohio Wesleyan University, USA. Because of positive response to the symposium, co-chairs William E. Davis and Jerome A. Jackson decided to publish the papers presented at the meeting as Contributions to the History of North American Ornithology in 1995. The volume was well received and Davis and Jackson subsequently recruited more historically oriented papers, publishing Volume II in 2000. + Full description

Walter Boles of the Australian Museum in Sydney, wrote a review of both Volumes for Emu, concluding with the statement: "a similar volume of this type could be usefully compiled for Australasia. It would fit nicely on the shelf next to The Flight of the Emu." Contributions to the History of Australasian Ornithology takes Walter Boles' comments to heart, with papers recruited dealing with the history of Australian ornithology.

Chapters are ordered roughly chronologically, with historically earliest subjects first, and within time periods by closeness of subject matter. The chapter on threatened species is the culminating chapter, because, although threats to species are long-standing, the focus of interest on threatened species is relatively recent.

Many of the chapters in this book are "court histories," written by people who participated in making the history they write about. Despite the obvious potential for bias, histories written by "insiders" have some advantage over those prepared by "disinterested" historians. Insiders have the advantage of personal experience, an intimate knowledge of their subject matter, and access to rich anecdotal material that adds a distinctive character to descriptive or interpretive history.

Many of the histories presented here are largely descriptive rather than interpretive, but as such, serve as useful first steps in laying the groundwork for future analyses. The essays in this volume provide stimulus and interest, as well as a source of reference, to future students of ornithological history.

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"I found it well-written, and the typescript virtually error-free. To anyone, professional or amateur, interested in the history of scientific bird study in Australasia, this book is essential reading, not least for its human dimension. It is most enlightening to read the profiles of the greats in Australasian ornithology, both historical and contemporary. And the many photos put faces to names, and thus bring the pages to life."
Stephen Debus, Corella, Vol 34, March 2010


Hardback | December 2008 | $ 99.95
ISBN: 9781877973437 | 481 pages
Publisher: Nuttall Ornithology Club
Illustrations, Photographs


1. A Man of Great Zeal and Assiduity: The Pioneering Naturalist John Gilbert in Australia, 1838-1845. Clemency Fisher

2. Ornithology at the Auckland Museum, New Zealand. B.J. Gill

3. A History of Ornithology at the Western Australian Museum. R.E. Johnstone

4. The Role of the Commonwealth Scientific and Indutrial Organisation (CSIRO) in Australian Ornithology. Ian Rowley

5. The Changing Faces of Systematics and Biogeography in Australian Ornithology: A Young Turk's View. Leo Joseph

6. Establishing a National Reference Collection of Birds: The First Forty Years of the Birds of the Australian National Wildlife Collection. Richard Schodde

7. The History of Threatened Birds in Australia and its Offshore Islands. Stephen T. Garnett and Gabriel M. Crowley