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Where Song Began  : Australia's Birds and How They Changed the World - Tim Low

Where Song Began

Australia's Birds and How They Changed the World

By: Tim Low

Paperback

Published: 25th June 2014
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Published: 25th June 2014
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Tim Low, award-winning author of Feral Future, in an eye-opening book on the unique nature of Australian birds and their role in ecology and global evolution.

Renowned for its unusual mammals, Australia is a land of birds that are just as unusual, just as striking, a result of the continent's tens of millions of years of isolation. Compared with birds elsewhere, ours are more likely to be intelligent, aggressive and loud, to live in complex societies, and are long-lived. They're also ecologically more powerful, exerting more influences on forests than other birds.

But unlike the mammals, the birds did not keep to Australia; they spread around the globe. Australia provided the world with its songbirds and parrots, the most intelligent of all bird groups. It was thought in Darwin's time that species generated in the Southern Hemisphere could not succeed in the Northern, an idea that was proven wrong in respect of birds in the 1980s but not properly accepted by the world's scientists until 2004 – because, says Tim Low, most ornithologists live in the Northern Hemisphere. As a result, few Australians are aware of the ramifications, something which prompted the writing of this book.

Tim Low has a rare gift for illuminating complex ideas in highly readable prose, and making of the whole a dynamic story. Here he brilliantly explains how our birds came to be so extraordinary, including the large role played by the foods they consume (birds, too, are what they eat), and by our climate, soil, fire, and Australia's legacy as a part of Gondwana. The story of its birds, it turns out, is inseparable from the story of Australia itself, and one that continues to unfold, so much having changed in the last decade about what we know of our ancient past. Where Song Began also shines a light on New Guinea as a biological region of Australia, as much a part of the continent as Tasmania. This is a work that goes far beyond the birds themselves to explore the relationships between Australia's birds and its people, and the ways in which scientific prejudice have hindered our understanding.

Read Caroline Baum's Review

You don't have to be a twitcher to enjoy this book which opens with a fascinating theory: Australian birds sound different because of what they eat! Apparently they are on a sugar high, because there is more nectar available to them from native flora than to other birds elsewhere. While our marsupials continue to capture the world's attention (Prince George and the Bilby, Gary Shteyngart's urgent desire to pat a wombat on his recent author tour), our birds are every bit as unique and get far less attention than they deserve. Many smaller species are threatened as suburbia encroaches on habitat. This accessible, entertaining and compelling portrait of our avian ecosystem makes for essential reading for bushwalkers, gardeners, and nature lovers.

About the Author

Tim Low is highly regarded as a biologist and writer. He is the prize-winning author of Feral Future, The New Nature, and Wild Food Plants of Australia.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
 
4.5

(based on 4 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Informative (4)
  • Deserves multiple readings (3)
  • Well written (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Gift (3)
    • Reference (3)

    Reviewed by 4 customers

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    4.0

    A Word For Our Birds.

    By Old Reader

    from N.S.W.

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Deserves Multiple Readings
    • Easy To Read
    • Extremely Interesting
    • Informative
    • Well Written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Reference

      Prompt service but I dislike the oversized (for many books) stiff, awkward to hold and open packaging. I enjoy the ease of shopping.

      Comment on this review

       
      4.0

      Storyteller's guide to Aussie birds

      By Itnipau

      from Country N.S.W.

      About Me Bookworm

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Engaging characters
      • Informative
      • So Much Fascinating Info

      Cons

      • Needs A Good Edit

      Best Uses

      • Aust West Papua Png
      • Gift
      • Travel Reading

      It is the sort of book to be read slowly and absorbed. You can then share the bits of information that your have gleaned in a format that is easily remembered. Many of the insights are astounding and based on recent research especially DNA analysis.

      Comment on this review

       
      5.0

      A Seminal Bokk About Birds

      By Bob

      from Brisbane, AU

      About Me Everyday Reader

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Deserves Multiple Readings
      • Easy To Read
      • Informative
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Gift
        • Older Readers
        • Reference

        Enlightening the way the author puts birds in their total context of evolutionary origin, world expansion and geographical range, relationship with flora and other fauna, use of colour, and development and use of song.
        Not a 'bird book' of the 'what's that bird' genre.

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        5.0

        Great reference book!

        By Ekkie

        from Sunshine Coast, Queensland

        About Me Casual Reader

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Definitive Work
        • Deserves Multiple Readings
        • Informative
        • Well Written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Gift
          • Older Readers
          • Reference

          Great reference book about little known aspects of our avian fauna. Particularly like the explanation of how bell birds (bell miners) with their delightful innocent tinkling are actually destroying eucalypt forests significantly. I have tried to explain this to people to no avail - I can now point to a reference on the topic!

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          ISBN: 9780670077960
          ISBN-10: 0670077968
          Audience: General
          Format: Paperback
          Language: English
          Number Of Pages: 280
          Published: 25th June 2014
          Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.4  x 3.1
          Weight (kg): 23.4