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It is not surprising that Australian grassfinches are highly popular with ornithologists and aviculturists, for included among the species are one of the most beautiful of all birds – the Gouldian finch Erythrura gouldiae – and one of the most familiar cagebirds – the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata.
Despite a scarcity in published works on finches, interest in the species is growing, leading to a dramatic advancement in our knowledge of many species. For example, we have gained new information from field observations carried out on little-known species, including the blue-faced parrot-finch Erythrura trichroa and the red-eared firetail Stagonopleura oculata. Significant advances in taxonomic research, largely as a consequence of the development and refinement of biochemical analyses, often involving DNA-DNA hybridisation, have given us a new insight into relationships among species, with some unexpected alliances being determined. Additionally, dramatic changes have taken place in avicultural practices, and in virtually all countries aviculture has taken on a new professional approach, with the most notable results being increased productivity and success with a wider variety of species.
After a lapse of almost half a century since publication of Klaus Immelmann’s eminent work on finches, based on extensive field studies, the time has come for a new examination of Australian grassfinches. In Grassfinches in Australia, Joseph Forshaw, Mark Shephard and Anthony Pridham have summarised our present knowledge of each species, and have given readers a visual appreciation of the birds in their natural habitats and in aviculture. The resulting combination of superb artwork and scientifically accurate text ensures that this volume will become the standard reference work on Australian grassfinches. In addition to enabling aviculturists to know more about these finches in the wild as a guide to their own husbandry techniques, detailed information on current management practices for all species in captivity is provided. The book also includes colour plates depicting some of the more common mutations held in Australian and overseas collections.
Foreword by Walter Boles
Australian Grassfinches in Aviculture by Mark Shephard
Painted Finch E. pictum
Beautiful Firetail S. bella
Red-eared Firetail S. oculata
Diamond Firetail S. guttata
Red-browed Finch N. temporalis
Crimson Finch N. phaeton
Star Finch N. ruficauda
Plum-headed Finch N. modesta
Masked Finch P. personata
Long-tailed Finch P. acuticauda
Black-throated Finch P. cincta
Zebra Finch T. guttata
Double-barred Finch T. bichenovii
Blue-faced Parrotfinch E. trichroa
Gouldian Finch E. gouldiae
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin L. castaneothorax
Yellow-rumped Mannikin L. flaviprymna
Nutmeg Mannikin L. punctulata
Pale-headed Mannikin L. pallida
Black-headed Mannikin L. malacca
Java Sparrow L. oryzivora
Pictorella Mannikin H. pectoralis
Joseph Forshaw is one of Australia’s foremost ornithologists. Prior to his retirement, he held a senior position with the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. He is a Research Associate in the Department of Ornithology at the Australian Museum, Sydney, and with the Australian National Wildlife Collection at CSIRO, Canberra. He is a Corresponding Fellow of the American Ornithologists Union, and in 1977 was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal for his services to ornithology and conservation. It was in the early 1960s, while working as a biologist with the then CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research, that he turned a lifelong fascination with birds into a serious academic interest, and his efforts were rewarded in 1964 when he was granted a Frank M. Chapman Memorial Fellowship by the American Museum of Natural History to study specimens of Australian parrots in collections at that institution. In partnership with the eminent Australian bird artist William Cooper, he has produced a number of widely acclaimed books.
Associate Professor Mark Shephard has had a lifelong interest in Australian birds (notably parrots and finches) – both in the wild and in the aviary. Mark has been a long-standing member of both Birds Australia and Birds SA. He is a Life Member and Co-Patron (2010–present) of the Avicultural Society of South Australia, where he also held positions including Vice President (1991–2) and Co-Editor (1984–9). Mark is the author of the best-selling book Aviculture in Australia: Keeping and Breeding Aviary Birds, for which he received an Avicultural Federation of Australia Award for literary excellence in 1991. Mark has had a particular fascination with Australian deserts and their birdlife, and has travelled extensively across all of the Australian deserts over the past 25 years. He was the inaugural President (1994–1996) and is the current Patron of the Friends of the Great Victoria Desert (2009–present). Mark’s achievements in the fields of conservation, aviculture and natural history writing, as well as medical research, have been recognised through the receipt of both an Australian of the Year Award in 2004 and an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2006.
Anthony Pridham is one of Australia’s leading bird painters. His two great passions in life – birds and art – have been the driving force behind his chosen career. Anthony enjoys travelling widely pursuing bird subjects and new ideas, and challenging himself both artistically and ornithologically. From the very beginning of this Australian grassfinch project it was Anthony's aim to see every Australian species and subspecies in the field. From Gouldian Finches in the Kimberleys and the Top End, Red-eared Firetails near Albany and Beautiful Firetails in Tasmania, each subject was closely studied and painted in its true habitat. Other publications to feature Anthony's work include: Feather and Brush: Three Centuries of Australian Bird Art.