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Birds of Prey of Australia

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Birds of Prey of Australia

A Field Guide

Second Edition

Stephen Debus   University of New England

Colour plates, Colour photographs, Illustrations, Maps
208 pages, 215 x 148 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

    Paperback - 2012
ISBN: 9780643104365 - AU $ 39.95

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This book is an illustrated field guide to diurnal raptors, a bird group that many people find among the most difficult birds to identify. Raptors are popular and iconic birds, and important ecologically as well as in legislation, with some species listed as threatened. Birds of Prey of Australia will enable people to more easily identify them. It also provides a brief overview of the biology of raptors and an indication of the current state of knowledge on them.

The book has been completely revised and updated, with 15 years of new data, a section on difficult species-pairs (split-images providing direct contrast), and rearranged in modern field-guide format, making it easy to use and enabling rapid identification of ‘difficult’ raptors.

Birds of Prey of Australia will appeal to a wide range of readers, including ornithologists, raptor biologists, birdwatchers, wildlife rescuers/carers, raptor rehabilitators, zookeepers, naturalists, bushwalkers, ecological consultants, fauna authorities, park rangers, state forestry personnel and students.

2013 Whitley Award Commendation for Vertebrate Guide.


  • High-quality illustrations.
  • Easy to use and read, it should enable rapid identification of 'difficult' raptors.
  • Provides a ready summary of biological information on Australian raptors, and a lead-in to the latest scientific literature on them.

 Preface to the first edition
Preface to the second edition
Introduction: Birds of prey

Species descriptions
Unconfirmed vagrants and doubtful species
Difficult species-pair
Ospreys, genus Pandion
Eastern Osprey Pandion cristatus
Small kites, genus Elanus
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus axillaris
Letter-winged Kite Elanus scriptus
Pernine kites
Square-tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura
Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra melanosternon
Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata
Australian endemic hawks, genus Erythrotriorchis
Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus
Large kites and sea-eagles
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
Goshawks and sparrowhawks, genus Accipiter
Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus
Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus
Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae
Harriers, genus Circus
Spotted Harrier Circus assimilis
Swamp Harrier Circus approximans
Booted eagles, genera Aquila and Hieraaetus
Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax
Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides
Falcons, genus Falco
Nankeen Kestrel Falco cenchroides
Brown Falcon Falco berigora
Australian Hobby Falco longipennis
Grey Falcon Falco hypoleucos
Black Falcon Falco subniger
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrines
Threats, conservation and the future

  • Ornithologists
  • Raptor biologists
  • Birdwatchers
  • Wildlife rescuers/carers
  • Raptor rehabilitators
  • Zookeepers
  • Naturalists, bushwalkers
  • Ecological consultants, fauna authorities, park rangers, state forestry personnel
  • High-school and undergraduate students

 "If you acquired the first edition you might be tempted to ignore an updated second edition. FAIL! Retire the first edition to the bookshelf. You must have a copy of the second edition in the driver’s door pocket of your vehicle."
Jeff Hardy, Corella, Vol 37 (2), pp. 47, 2013

"As someone who has used the First Edition, I will certainly be carrying this new book with me on field trips. I recommend it highly."
Roy Sonnenburg, The Sunbird – Birds QLD, June 2013

"In summary, it is the best resource book on the subject we have so far."
Philip Veerman, Canberra Bird Notes, pp.235-237, Vol 37 (3), December 2012

"One of the most comprehensive and accessible resources for learning about Australian raptors..."
Australian Birdlife, December 2012

"The Birds of Prey of Australia is another must-have specialist book for Australian birdwatchers. It is affordable, easily transportable and I suspect will become the definitive field guide for the 24 species of Australian raptor. Readers can probably tell that I am delighted with this book and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Australian birds."
Deborah Metters, Land for Wildlife South East Queensland, pp. 13, October 2012

"Jeff Davies has provided fine illustrations, essential to any field guide, and these are backed up by pages of photographs of the raptors in full flight. All of this is contained in a well-produced pocket-sized book, a credit to the designers."
Nick Goldie, Summit Sun, pp. 8, October 2012

"If you found the first edition helpful, it's probably time to upgrade. If you don't know it, and have a particular interest in raptors, it would be well worth having a good look."
Ian Fraser, Natural History Newsletter, No. 18, October 2012

"Overall the book supplies a welcoming market and is a volume that every avid bird researcher (amateur or professional) should have readily available... The price is comparable to that of similar works on other subjects and is not daunting. It is a worthy replacement for the first edition."
NW Longmore, The Victorian Naturalist, pp. 150-151, June 2013

"Birds of Prey of Australia has encapsulated Stephen Debus' extensive experience and observations for raptors, that are a not easy-to-identify group in general. This field guide will be a "must-have" book for those wanting to improve their skill in making correct identification of raptors in the field."
Gil Porter, Warbler (Southern Queensland BirdLife e-newsletter), Vol 5(1), March 2016, pp. 26-27

 Stephen Debus has undertaken research on and written about raptors for 30 years. He completed a PhD and postdoctoral research in Zoology, on declining woodland birds. Stephen recently reviewed the conservation status of various birds for NSW Department of Environment and Heritage. He now works as an ecological consultant, and is an honorary research associate at UNE, doing projects on various raptors. He co-edits the BOCA journal Australian Field Ornithology, edits the Australasian Raptor Association (ARA) journal Boobook, and serves on the Australian Bird Study Association committee (handling the raptor special issues of Corella). Stephen has authored field guides on raptors and owls, contributed to ARA conference proceedings and participated in several Red Goshawk projects.  

Related Titles
An Atlas of the Birds of NSW & the ACT     Australian Wildlife After Dark    Double Helix Issue 04    Indicators and Surrogates of Biodiversity and Environmental Change    All About Garden Wildlife Of Australia    Birds of the Darwin Region    Double Helix Issue 02  


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