Review written by Chris Lotz on 16 April 2023.
The author of this beautiful book spent over 2500 hours searching for all of Australia’s finch species, capturing photos of all of them that tell a story about their behavior. It takes a very unusual and exceptional sort of person to accomplish such a feat. Many of these finch species are elusive, and to not only find all of them but to also capture gorgeous images of them “doing things” rather than just sitting statically, requires immense persistence, patience, and hard work in sweltering conditions, as well as remarkable bird photography skills.
The author, Col Roberts, purposefully kept text to a minimum to let the pictures tell the story, and I am doing the same thing here in the review. So, below you will find a few of my favorite pictures from the book and you can judge for yourself whether you want this remarkable work on your coffee table. If yes, then you can order it here. Please note that the book is large (about 11 x 11 inches or 28 x 28 cm) and a lot of the photos take up the whole page, so far more impressive than on this online blog.
The scenery photos in this book are great and may make you want to head to Australia (of course, the images of the finches should do the same, too!). The above are backwaters of Lake Kununurra, noted as being prime Crimson Finch habitat.
A dazzling pair of Crimson Finches. The above is one of hundreds of bird photos in this book.
Many of the photos in this book capture behavior wonderfully. While the author keeps text to a minimum, the (concise) text is nevertheless great, e.g. for the above photo of Long-tailed Finches, Col writes “Oh, the joys of a throat preening session!”
A brilliant capture of these Masked Finches.
I thought these Chestnut-breasted Mannikins were kissing, but the author captions this photo as “Beak-to-beak bickering on a fresh Sorghum stalk”.
Col knows these Australian finches so well, and it’s a delight to learn from him, for example in the caption for the above photo, which reads “Prior to the wet season when Spear Grass forms a large proportion of their diet, Chestnuts rely upon other seeding grasses such as Panicum trachyrachis”.
Black- and red-headed Gouldian Finches on the same branch! Col loves this species, which he describes as “the world’s most beautiful finch” and has published an entire coffee table book featuring a great many photos of just this species (please see here for my review of that book). It’s great to read the introduction to the Gouldian Finch chapter (of the current book I’m now reviewing), describing Col’s first ever account with this stunningly-colorful bird, then detailing a lot of facts about this species, also revealing his concern for the species’ conservation status.
I recommend this book for anyone who loves birds. Beware it will make you want to travel across Australia in search of these birds, although the book will also allow you to enjoy them through remarkable photos, if you never do have that privilege.