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New book on Grasswrens (1 Viewer)

Murray Lord

Well-known member
As a copy of this book managed to find its way to my Christmas tree somehow, I can now say a bit more about it

I have attached part of the introductory section explaining the layout of the book.

Yes, it’s a coffee table style book but there’s a lot of good scientific information in there. The author, Andrew Black, has been prolifically turning out papers on grasswrens over the last decade. You won’t find descriptions of plumage or other typical field guide information. The species are treated in order of discovery which helps to explain the confused taxonomic history of grasswrens, particularly the Thick-billed / Western / Dusky / Kalkadoon complex. Much of that history was described in Schodde’s 1982 monograph called The Fairy-wrens, but more work has been done on early museum skins to piece things together more comprehensively. There is a lot of information on variation between different populations of particular species, and information on the subtly different habitat preferences of different species, with lots of habitat photos.

Most of the photos are excellent, though there are a few that have the look of digital photos that have been enlarged a bit too far, and some of Graeme Chapman’s photos from pre digital days haven’t been reproduced that well (they can be seen here if anyone’s interested). I noticed one photo I’ve seen reproduced elsewhere credited to a different photographer this time – I wonder who got it right. It also includes a photo of the mysterious Dusky type Grasswren seen in the Pilbara in the early 1990s but not recorded since.

As Chris Watson’s review mentioned, it treats the Striated Grasswren as one species, albeit with subsections on the Opalton/Rusty (rowleyi) and Pilbara/Rufous (whitei) forms. While the author acknowledges those forms may well turn out to be separate species, it seems he doesn’t hold the same view about the split of Sandhill Grasswren (oweni), as there is just one sentence referring to “a mitochondrial study [that] found a deep genetic division between a single western and some eastern individuals”. Later on there’s a stop press note saying more recent studies have “uncovered unexpected complexity” and further sampling of museum specimens is underway.
 

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Melanie

Well-known member
Germany
I currently trying to get the Grasswren book by Andrew Black and Peter Gower via NHBS. I hope it is still available because Australian zoology books seems to be out of print rather fast (e.g. Penny Olsen's Glimpses of Paradise). In particular I'm interested in the extinct Grasswren subspecies (which are currently five).
 

Tom Lawson

Well-known member
I currently trying to get the Grasswren book by Andrew Black and Peter Gower via NHBS. I hope it is still available because Australian zoology books seems to be out of print rather fast (e.g. Penny Olsen's Glimpses of Paradise). In particular I'm interested in the extinct Grasswren subspecies (which are currently five).

I bought a new copy of this in Dimmocks-the Australian equivalent of Waterstones-in Adelaide a few weeks ago.Since then I have been unable to find any trace of this book on any of the new or used book sites on the interenet.Andrew Isles didn't have a copy when I was there in September. I wish you luck in finding a copy!
Tom Lawson.
 

Melanie

Well-known member
Germany
I had luck. I've got a dispatch notice from NHBS yesterday. I think I will got my copy shortly before Christmas. What a welcome coincidence! o:)
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
I currently trying to get the Grasswren book by Andrew Black and Peter Gower via NHBS. I hope it is still available because Australian zoology books seems to be out of print rather fast (e.g. Penny Olsen's Glimpses of Paradise). In particular I'm interested in the extinct Grasswren subspecies (which are currently five).

I'm hoping they reprint HANZAB one day, I have four of the seven volumes but the ones I don't have, are stupidly expensive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handbook_of_Australian,_New_Zealand_and_Antarctic_Birds
 
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