The Flight of the Emu: A Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology, 1901-2001

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Melbourne University Press, 2001 - History - 492 pages
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The Flight of the Emu tells the story of Australian birding in the twentieth century. The Emu is the journal of the former Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union, now known as Birds Australia. In this engrossing book, Libby Robin describes the achievements and the increasing importance of ornithology in Australia-both amateur and professional-over the past hundred years. From Bass Strait to the Kimberley, collectors have searched for and identified hundreds of species of Australian birds. This is a discipline in which exceptional amateur contributions have helped to shape science. Libby Robin explores the tensions between amateur and professional ornithologists, and discusses issues of conservation and environmental management, scientific collecting, smuggling and bird protection. She tells stories from campouts, expeditions and congresses derived from oral history, letters and 'reading between the lines' of published reports. The search for the Night Parrot, the protection of the Lyrebird, the identification of the Noisy Scrub-bird, have all involved enthusiastic bird lovers as well as scientists. Ornithological research takes place in museums, universities, government agencies, community groups and the CSIRO. Bird-banding has introduced many people to the passion of ornithology, as well as providing a method of valuable data-collection about birds. The Flight of the Emu also details international scientific expeditions and the influences of Australian birds on international debates. 'Birdos' have a great sense of humour, and the pleasure and fun of bird watching, whether it be serious scientific observation, 'twitching' or just a relaxing hobby, comes through strongly in this clear, friendly and richly-illustrated book.

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Collectors Collections
Whats in a Name? Gregory Mathews and the 1926 Checklist
Searching for Night Parrots

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About the author (2001)

Libby Robin is an environmental historian. She has worked as a curator in environmental history at the national museum of Australia, as well as holding teaching and research positions at the Australian National University. She lives in Canberra, Australia.

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