The Australian Bird Guide


Paperback - May 2017 - AU $49.95

The most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated field guide to Australia’s unique birdlife.

Australia’s avifauna is large, diverse and spectacular, reflecting the continent’s impressive range of habitats and evolutionary history. With specially commissioned paintings of over 900 species, The Australian Bird Guide is the most comprehensive field guide to Australian birds ever seen. + Full description

The guide features around 4700 colour illustrations, with particular emphasis on providing the fine detail required to identify difficult groups and distinctive plumages. Comprehensive species accounts have been written by a dedicated team of ornithologists to ensure identification details, distribution and status are current and accurate.

The Australian Bird Guide sets a new standard in field guides, providing an indispensable reference for all birders and naturalists looking to explore Australia’s magnificent and unique birdlife.

Winner of the 2017 Whitley Medal

- Short description


The Australian Bird Guide sets a new standard in field guides, providing an indispensable reference for all birders and naturalists looking to explore Australia’s magnificent and unique birdlife.

Sample pages are available to view here: (PDF 4.23MB).

Follow hashtag #ausbirdguide on social media.

Watch a Facebook video (external link) featuring artwork from the book.

This title is available in North and South America through Princeton University Press and in Europe through Bloomsbury Publishing.

In response to feedback from our customers, we are pleased to offer a revised index for The Australian Bird Guide, as a free download (PDF 349KB). This index lists species under both their scientific name, but also under their common name, under the common family name.


View the media release for The Australian Bird Guide (PDF)

"Do we need yet another field guide to birds in Australia? If you’re anything like me, you’ve already pre-ordered a copy for your library. If not, I suspect you’ll find this a fantastic new field guide for beginners and experts alike."
Rowan Ewing, Park Watch #269, June 2017, p. 35

"a gorgeous lure to spend more time in nature."
Susan Wyndham, "2017 Books of the Year", Australian Book Review #397, December 2017

"the plates are exceptionally good, and of high quality throughout. Postures and aspects are well chosen to illustrate salient features and in the main, the colours are true to life. The species accounts are also extremely good... When not lying open on my desk, my copy of this invaluable tome will reside on that special bookshelf reserved for those frequently consulted books that I need to reach easily and frequently — a treatise that I will be able to quote with confidence knowing that it will quickly become 'the authority' on the occurrence and identification of Australian birds."
Mike Carter, Australian Birdlife, June 2017, pp. 80-81

"Birds are illustrated in poses that best highlight diagnostic features. Seabirds are depicted almost exclusively in flight, precisely as most will encounter them at sea. The text is detailed without being too over-the-top, featuring all of the expected information and including helpful notes on recent taxonomic changes, distributional information that might be too granular to identify on the maps, and behavioural notes which might assist finding the bird and separating it from confusing species. The maps are clear and show all subspecies."
Chris Watson, Australian Birdlife, June 2017, p. 81

"Complemented by the engaging and inclusive text, the artwork will succeed in helping novices identify species, while still allowing the fully-fledged birder to identify subspecies, sex and age... A brilliant guide with sublime illustrations, I hope The Australian Bird Guide finds its way into plenty of car sear pockets, for the next generation of bird and nature lovers to find and fall in love with."
Catherine Cavallo, Australian Birdlife, June 2017, pp. 81-82

"The illustrations are amazing. Each is the purest and most accurate depiction of a species possible: the absolute platonic ideal of itself... [This book] makes me yearn — to see more birds, to note obscure plumage details, to plan holidays to see farther-flung species. This book reinvigorates my love of birds and birding and makes clear how lucky we are to have such amazing riches. And that is some powerful art."
Kate-Gorringe-Smith, Australian Birdlife, June 2017, p. 82

"This new guide is a must-have book for anyone interested in the birds of Australia. There are more illustrations of each species showing more colour variations. The text is excellent and includes a considerable amount of new information on how to identify similar species. I like the key ID features next to the illustrations. And as a twitcher I very much like the inclusion of the birds from the Australian territories and the vagrants."
Frank O'Conner, Australian Birdlife, June 2017, p. 82

"For me, poring over the pages of The Australian Bird Guide was akin to looking through a new set of binoculars — long familiar birds are rendered afresh, as if you are seeing them again for the first time.
Not only does The Australian Bird Guide successfully provide a rich, contemporary bird identification book, it has the potential to play a far more significant cultural role – in cataloguing the full extent of the glorious variety of Australian birds it becomes a palpable celebration of the wonder of nature."
Sean Dooley, Sydney Morning Herald online, 28/7/17

"If you are looking at getting a field guide to the birds of Australia, the ABG is undoubtably the best."
Michael Szabo, Birds New Zealand (14), June 2017, p. 19

"The Collins is frequently held up as a paragon of the field guide form and The Australian Bird Guide—in the quality of the artwork, in the fullness of the text, in the accuracy of the maps and information—in my assessment, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with it. In its comprehensiveness, it may even give it a nudge."
Chris Watson, The Grip (blog), 25/4/17

"Compared with all other Australian bird guides, the text and most of the illustrations are on a higher level... The cornucopia of high quality illustrations – including numerous smaller sketch-ups illustrating such things as foraging behaviours, honeyeater corroborees, and size comparisons with similar possible species – puts the guide in the upper echelon of bird guides globally... For me, this volume by Menkhorst and colleagues has become my new favourite."
Eliot Miller, Emu - Austral Ornithology 117(3), July 2017, pp.299-300

"the collaborative work of authors Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers and Rohan Clarke has transformed what could have been a standard working field guide to an exemplary collection of ornithological information, completely up-to-date with the latest findings. In particular, the distribution maps are remarkable. It can certainly be said that one will not find a more comprehensive, thoroughly researched field guide on Australian birds anytime soon."
Rachel Fetherston, Andrew Isles Natural History Books: News & Reviews, 8/4/17

"It is bold and beautiful, it's meaty, beaty, big, and bouncy and, as promised, it boldly goes where no guide has gone before... it will almost certainly be the guide to which I turn first."
Harvey Perkins, Canberra Bird Notes 42(2), July 2017, pp. 223-227

"the ABG is undeniably the most comprehensive field guide to be published in Australia to date, surpassing previous guides in the quantity and accuracy of illustrations and pertinent information."
Richard Noske, Australian Book Review, October 2017, pp. 49-50

"I feel as if I am standing in front of a Van Gogh, suggesting improvements. This guide is indeed a masterpiece, and will provide hours of fun and education for thousands of birders and prospective birders, with reams of exciting new information for all. It will help foster a new generation of well-informed people to observe, record and conserve birds and the habitats that sustain us all."
Richard H. Lyon, Corella #41, 2017, pp. 99-100


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


  • Superb, specially commissioned artwork that provides a level of fine detail not found in any other Australian guides
  • 4700+ detailed paintings illustrating species variations
  • Coverage of all species and distinctive subspecies recorded in Australia and its external territories, using the latest taxonomy
  • Indexed by both the common and scientific names


Alphabetical quick reference to bird groups
Constructing the guide
Identifying birds
Birding in Australia
A guide for birders to the evolution and classification of Australian birds
Key to abbreviations and symbols
Species accounts
Checklist of species


Peter Menkhorst became hooked on birding and natural history books when, as a seven year old, he used Caley’s What Bird is That? to identify a New Holland Honeyeater in his garden; he is now a zoologist at the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Victoria. He is author, with Frank Knight, of A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia (OUP 2001), editor and major contributor to the award-winning Mammals of Victoria (OUP 1995) and edited two editions of Pizzey and Knight’s Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (HarperCollins). He was awarded the Australian Natural History Medallion in 1998.

Danny Rogers started birding when he was four years old, and regrets those wasted first four years. Any birding is fun, but he has particular interests in the minutiae of plumage, moults and field identification, and in the ecology and conservation of shorebirds. He prepared many of the plumage sections in the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (OUP), did a shorebirds PhD in north-western Australia, has written or co-authored many papers and a couple of coffee-table books on shorebirds and is a waterbird ecologist at the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Victoria.

Rohan Clarke is an ecologist and ornithologist at Monash University. A birder since childhood, he has field experience with all but a couple of Australian species. He gets a kick out of birding remote island outposts and leading pelagic excursions to watch seabirds, as both present rich opportunities for new insight and discovery. He has previously authored Finding Australian Birds: A Field Guide to Birding Locations (CSIRO Publishing).

Jeff Davies is a lifelong birder who completed a Fine Arts Painting Major at Caulfield Institute of Technology. He has contributed artwork for Freshwater and Estuarine Fishes of Wilson's Promontory (Fisheries & Wildlife Div. 1983), Shorebirds of Australia (Nelson 1987), Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (OUP) and The Penguins (OUP 1995). Jeff prefers to work with water-based mediums and commissioned works can be found in private collections in Australia and North America.

Peter Marsack trained as a zoologist but has also worked extensively as a natural history artist and illustrator. He was an artist for the multi-volume Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (OUP), and a prize-winner in the inaugural Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize. His collaboration with Canberra naturalist Ian Fraser on A Bush Capital Year (CSIRO Publishing 2011) was awarded a Whitley Certificate for regional natural history.

Kim Franklin, BA (Fine Art) has had an interest in birds throughout his life. He has exhibited in Africa and Europe. His illustrations have featured in ornithological books including Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (OUP), Birds of the Western Palearctic (OUP), Parrots (Pica Press), Raptors of the World (Helm), Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Helm) and Pheasants, Partridges, and Grouse (Helm).


Supplementary Material

In response to feedback from our customers, we are pleased to offer a revised index for The Australian Bird Guide, as a free download here (PDF 349KB). This index lists species under both their scientific name, but also under their common name, under the common family name.