Friday, July 9, 2010

Simpson & Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia--A Review and Give-Away

The 8th edition of the Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Ken Simpson and Nicolas Day has been completely revised and updated and is now available from Penguin Australia.  And I have the pleasure of offering this book free to one of my blog readers!
Bound with a durable soft cover, this guide's pages are packed with beautiful illustrations, key points of identification, species location maps, and alternative views to aid identification, all easily located within a two-page spread.   

Below, the species page spread for the Laughing Kookaburra (top left on the color plate).  
In the detail below, you can see a comparison between the Laughing Kookaburra and its close cousin, the Blue-winged Kookaburra.  Smaller illustrations compare the two birds' color patterns in flight.
As you move to the left of the page spread, you find a description of key plumage along with a location map.  Supplemental line illustrations give more ID clues showing postures, behavior and plumage variations.    

And if you need a refresher on just what constitutes this bird's 'open forest' habitat, there is a handy reference section in the back entitled, "Where the birds live", an illustrated key to all the habitats found in Australia.  Every field guide should have this feature!  Habitat is crucial information, important to learn right along with field marks.

Some of the other outstanding features of this guide:
  • How to observe a bird
  • Key to bird families
  • Vagrant bird bulletin  
  • Breeding information 
  • Australian island territories checklists
  • Hints for birdwatchers 
  • A glossary of terms
  • List of birdwatching and naturalists organizations
  • List of recommended books to enhance your bird knowledge   
Of course, as an artist, my favorite part of the book is the visual species information found in the 132 beautifully illustrated full-color plates.

As a relative beginner, I loved the handy and practical 'Hints' section.  And as a person who always enjoys digging deeper, the glossary of terms and breeding section were both winners.  Designed for experienced birders, as well as, beginners, this field guide browses like eye candy, packs volumes of information in every page, and offers over 900 line drawings to give its user even more information in a snapshot.  A highly recommended addition to your field guide collection!

And now for the GIVE-AWAY!  
If you would like to win a free copy of this guide, all you have to do is write a note in the comments section of this blog post telling me why you're just the right person to receive a free copy of the 8th Edition of Simpson & Day's Field Guide to the Birds of Australia.  Enter your comment by midnight July 31st (EDT).  I will select the story that impresses me the most and announce the winner on August 1st.  The winner will receive their new field guide directly from the publisher, Penguin Australia.  


  1. Hi Vickie,

    My name is David B. Coe. I'm a fantasy author, a subscriber to TN-Birds, and an avid birder. Why am I the perfect person to receive this book? Well, though far from perfect in nearly every way, I did live for a year in Australia while my wife was on sabbatical. We lived in Wollongong, south of Sidney, but traveled all over the country. I did a tremendous amount of birding there, and used both the Simpson and Day and Pizzey and Knight field guides. I loved them both -- they served me well all year long. But when we shipped our belongings home at the end of our year, the Australian or US postal system lost one of our boxes. It contained a number of books including some fiction written by writing colleagues of mine and also my worn but beloved copy of the Simpson and Day field guide. (Pizzey/Knight made it home safely.) Since we have yet to return to Oz, I've yet to replace the book. (Hint, hint.) In any case, that's my pitch.

    Cool giveaway idea, by the way.

    Happy birding.



  2. Thanks, David. Great to meet you!

  3. A kookaburra! Kelly would be so thrilled!
    I'm not after the book...just think it's cool. Wouldn't it be fantastic to bird in Australia???

  4. Hi Vickie

    I don't know if this rates but I'll give it a try.
    I am in the proccess of initiating my 9 yr.old grandson into birding He already has a keen interest in geography. Ever since he found out that Australia was it's own country and continent he has been fascinated by that country.I thought upon reading about the giveaway, what a great way to teach him about both.

    Thanks so much for this great idea! I hope you enjoy and have fun reading all the responces.

    Good Birding, Peter Gustas

  5. Thank you for your visit Vickie.
    Of course I would love a copy, I have most of the field guides on Australian birds as I live here, but find none of them totally satisfying. Having lost all our books in a major bushfire, as well as everything else, I have restocked as far as possible. Some of course were no longer in print and most of those I located at an antiquarian book shop, totally out of my price range.
    I find this offer of yours very generous, and no, I am not looking for a hand-out, but am grateful for the information and will get or order one from my favourite bookshop a.s.a.p.

  6. I am a beginning birder. I've just begun exploring the birds in my own backyard and to introduce my young grandchildren to this activity. But, this Tallahassee lassie really really really needs an Australian guidebook. I am about to visit Australia for the first time. My daughter moved to Australia several years back and is a newly-minted physician working in Australia (so, many more visits ahead in the future). I'm looking to expand my own birding skills and to introduce this quiet, restorative activity into the life of a busy young professional. My plan is to use the guide with her while I'm visiting (I leave August 6 - see, the universe has timed this give-away just right), and leave it in her care and keeping until my next visit. That would make you and your giveaway a link in a round-the-world chain. Harmonic convergence at its best, si?
    pdc (who, thanks to your inspiration, is going to be exploring the New Smyrna Beach area with a friend and photographer in the early fall).

  7. it would be fabulous to receive this book. My daughter spent a year, and later 3 months exploring Australia where she photographed some of the varied birds to show me as I cannot travel. it would be a wonderful gift for her to be able to put names to the birds she digitally captured. I myself am a painter of birds that live or migrate through Alberta Canada and have quite a collection of north American bird books that I constantly refer to. I know this book on Australia birds would be well used and appreciated by my daughter.
    P.S. Being an adventurous spirit she entered the Sheikh Zayed international Outback Camel Race at Hughenden in 2008 and came in 4th.

  8. Hi Vickie,

    I just stumbled upon your blog via Sketching in Nature. I love birds! We own six parakeets and if I had the room I would probably own a few larger birds as well.

    I love sketching birds and feel that this guide would provide a wonderful array of different birds to practice sketching along with information about the birds. I think if I could learn more about them it would help me to understand them and sketch them a little better.

    Thanks for such an exciting give away and nice to meet you! Off to check out more of your blog.


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Your Uncapped Creativity...
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