Note: As yet no reviews of the eGuide ....




BOOKS ON AUSTRALASIAN BIRDS & NATURAL HISTORYI Including Hawaii and the Pacific January 2005

"Michael Morcombe. Field Guide to Australian Birds: Complete Compact Edition. Steve Parrish Publishing 2004. Details. ISBN: 1740215591. 4" x 8.5". 384 pages. Sets new standards for usability and use of available space in a compact field guide, cramming an enormous quantity of useful information into a narrow book only slightly heavier than Slater. Whereas Slater is arranged conventionally with text on left and bird plates on right, Morcombe merges color bird illustrations with related text, with concise ID notes next to each Peterson pointer. Graduated color range maps show subspecies. Summary pages grouping thumbnails of similar species are useful for navigation and size comparisons. This is the book I would carry in the field in Australia."



Field Guide to Australian Birds

Field Guide to Australian Birds [Complete Compact Edition] By Michael Morcombe

Steve Parish Publishing 2004 ISBN 1740215591

Some while ago [May 2004] I reviewed the full-scale version of this guide saying Morcombe probably has the best illustrations and reminds me of the Sibley North American Guide. It is wonderfully well laid out but it is a bit cumbersome to carry in the field. I haven't a great memory nor have I looked back through these archived reviews to remind myself I said it, it says so on the back cover of this new compact edition. Being quoted on a book-jacket is a first for Fatbirder and not just brings a swelling chest of pride but a timely reminder of that old Chinese proverb - be careful of what you wish for, as it may come true!

However, in this case I could not be more pleased that the wish is made flesh as it were. This is the best of all possible worlds, my favourite guide to Australia made small enough to truly be a fieldguide not a home reference. On my birding trips to Australia I have always used Simpson & Day, and a very good book it is too. But I know now what I would take with me if I get a chance to go again and I now have it on my shelves. This really is excellent; the illustrations are barely reduced but the text has been reduced in font and boiled down to a precise and necessary few words. The distribution maps cannot be big but they are clear and good enough, you can tell whether the bird could be observed where you are sufficiently well. All the ID features are pointed out for you and the small but crisp images are still excellent.

Of course I can't have it both ways, smaller size with large print , so I would need to carry my reading spectacles with me as any attempt to read would otherwise be thwarted, but that is a small price to pay; and probably only effects us old birding blokes anyway. One other feature I love, again a feature seen in Sibley- are pages with whole families in miniature for quick reference, after all, this is all you need to tell apart most of the species you see. As a true field guide it looks durable too with a strong plastic-coated cover sporting an index-come-family-list that folds out to use to mark your current page. I have no hesitation is recommending the book and urge you to buy it even if you have, as I do, a full set of Australian Fieldguides and then you can pray to the god of birding to make it possible for you to go to Australia to see the birds in the feather.


Created: 02nd Sep 2005

http://www.fatbirder then scrolldown to this book, or, go direct to the full review at:



BIRDS QUEENSLAND, Vol 36, No. 1 .A partial quote....

"This new field guide is similar in size to the Slater's Field Guide....."

"When more people see and look carefully at this book we may see less

"Slaters" being carried about......"

ABC Wide Bay, Queensland

Field Guide to Australian Birds: Complete Compact Edition

Date of Review: Friday, 13 May  2005 

Michael Morcombe: Field Guide to Australian Birds, Complete Compact Edition

Michael Morcombe's Field Guide to Australian Birds is perhaps the best book of its kind. It covers every wild bird you're going to see in Australia (and a few you're very unlikely to see, unless you're very very lucky!)

This is a pretty big ask - the Australian list stands at well over 800 birds, and every one is lovingly illustrated by Morcombe. Add to this seperate illustrations for males, females and juveniles of some species, plus a whole section on identifying nests and eggs, and it's easy to see how this book could have been more than fourteen years in the making.

It has several advantages over the many other similar books on the market. The first is basically a 'which of these birds did your mystery bird most look like?' section. It greatly helps you narrow down what it is you think you saw.

Since bird books are usually organised in a scientific order, which to the uninitiated can seem a bit random, sometimes things aren't where you think they should be. For instance, who'd look for the button-quails, cute little grass dwellers, between the shoreline waders and the coots and crakes?

The edges of the book are colour-coded, which also helps make it easier to look something up.

So, you have your mystery bird. You turn to the 'what does it look like' page, and find something that looks more or less right. It has a blue numbered dot beside it. You flip to the blue pages - and congratulations! It's a Superb Fairy Wren (you're not bad yourself, either!)

It isn't small, being slightly less than A4 size and over an inch thick. However, a slimline cut-down version was recently released, which is perhaps more suitable for people wanting a book to chuck in the backpack.

-Jodie van de Wetering

Related Web site:

Country of Origin: Australian

Book Genre: Australian

We rate it: 5 STAR (Max 5 star)