The flight of the Emu: a hundred years of Australian ornithology 1901-2001.

The flight of the Emu: a hundred years of Australian ornithology 1901-2001. Libby Robin.
The flight of the Emu: a hundred years of Australian ornithology 1901-2001.

Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001. Octavo, dustwrapper, colour and black and white photographs.

WAS $70. The Flight of the Emu is a history of Australian birding in the twentieth century. The Emu of the title comes from the hundred-year old journal of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union (later Birds Australia), but the book is much more than the history of a society. It encompasses ornithological research in museums, universities, government agencies, CSIRO and community groups, exploring the tensions between amateur and professional in a discipline in which exceptional amateurs have contributed to scientific knowledge.

Bird studies raise issues of conservation and environmental management. The problems of scientific collecting, smuggling and bird protection, recur in various ways throughout the century. Bird-banding has introduced many to the passion of ornithology as well as providing a method of valuable data-collection about birds. The fun of bird watching, whether it be serious scientific observation, 'twitching' or just a relaxing hobby, is a feature of this book.

The Flight of the Emu is richly illustrated with pictures of birds and birdos in action. Its clear and friendly text captures many of the important moments of Australian ornithology this century.

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