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Australian Bustard

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Australian Bustard

Australian Natural History Series

Mark Ziembicki  

Colour photographs, Illustrations
120 pages
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

This book is no longer available in print.

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The Australian bustard is Australia's heaviest flying bird. It is an icon of the Australian outback where it is more commonly known as the bush or plains turkey. It is also culturally and spiritually significant to Aboriginal people, who prize it as a favourite bush tucker.

This book provides the first complete overview of the biology of the Australian bustard, based on the first major study of the species. The author explores the bustard's ecology and behaviour, its drastic decline since European settlement, and the conservation issues affecting it and its environment.

Colour photographs of juvenile and adult birds complement the text as well as showcase particular behaviours, such as the spectacular display routines of males when mating. Australian Bustard is the perfect book for natural history enthusiasts.


  • A complete overview of the ecology and behaviour of the bustard and its historical and contemporary significance to Aboriginal and outback communities
  • New insights into the bustard’s biology from the first detailed ecological study of the species
  • Great colour photographs and sketches of the species behaviour including the spectacular display of males at leks
  • Threats and conservation of the bustard
  • Details of the first satellite tracking study of the species, and one of the most detailed satellite tracking studies of any Australian terrestrial bird to date.

1 Talking turkey
2 Bustard Dreaming
3 Taxonomy and characteristics
4 Status, distribution and habitat
5 Diet and the daily routine
6 Exploding bustards
7 Movements
8 Threats and conservation

 "The book is an enjoyable and very readable introduction to the Australian Bustard, and the challenges involved with studying such a wide-ranging and mysterious bird. The scientific information is generally accessible, and is well balanced by fascinating anecdotes of this species during the European settlement of Australia, and its importance to the Aboriginal people, both spiritually and as valued bush food. The book provides a good background for conservationists, and will appeal to interested naturalists and students keen to learn more about an important bird in Australia’s past and, hopefully, future."
Jessica M Shaw, Ostrich 2012: Journal of African Ornithology, Vol 83(1) pp. 65

"Both the author and the publisher are to be congratulated for generating and communicating the updated natural history of an Australian species, in a climate where many academics, publishers (and conservation managers) shift focus away from individual species and their natural history."
Michael Weston, The Victorian Naturalist, June 2011, Vol. 128 (3), pp.118-119

"The liberal use of illustrations, figures and tables means that, although the book is packed with the latest information on the Bustard, the text is a quick and easy read. For the amateur ornithologist or birder, it’s Bustard ecology made enjoyable and interesting. The author is right: the Bustard, lordly icon of the Outback, now deserves our help to ensure its survival. This book should be a catalyst in the necessary community awareness, and therefore it ought to be widely disseminated and read."
Stephen Debus, Australian Field Ornithology, Vol 27 (4) December 2010

"I found it fascinating to learn about this proudly strutting bird with such interesting behaviour, and one that is very much part of the Australian outback and yet is so little known."
Mike Gregson, WA Naturalist News, July 2010

"I would recommend this volume to anyone interested in birds and conservation more especially because it highlights how little is known about some of our most recognised species."
Graham Carpenter, South Australian Ornithologist, September 2010

"The fascinating information on every aspect of Australia’s largest flying bird is accompanied by a fine collection of colour photographs of the bird’s movement, flight and display and includes an impressive range of easily read graphs and tables to detail the research."
Beth Pegg, Wildlife Australia Magazine, Winter 2010

"I cannot fault Ziembicki’s writing. It is not only written in an informative, clear style, but it is entertaining to read…a worthy addition to anyone’s natural history shelves. I recommend grabbing a copy, sitting back and reading up about the Australian Bustard."
Frank Hemmings, Linnean Society Newsletter, 137, July 2010

"…well written overview of the life of the Australian Bustard…In a few hours of gentle and in places charming reading, Mark Ziembicki introduces us to the cultural significance of the Bustard."
Paul D Goriup, 2010 British Ornithologists' Union

"...a fascinating collection of facts and folklore about the Australian Bustard, presented in an easily-read style. Overall, Mark is to congratulated for presenting such an informative and thought-provoking book; it is thoroughly recommended reading for al those interested in birdlife, whether their interest is at a serious or casual level."
The Bird Observer, May 2010


 Mark Ziembicki is a wildlife biologist based in the 'Top End' of the Northern Territory, Australia. His interests and work in tropical and island ecology span northern Australia and the Indo-Pacific region. He has written scientific and popular articles on a range of species and indigenous ecological knowledge issues. He recently completed his PhD, which focused on the ecology and movements of the Australian bustard in northern Australia. 

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