Birds and Bees and Frogs, Oh My! Seven guides you’ll go wild about

April 21st, 2021

Kindle your curiosity about Australian wildlife, big and small, beautiful and strange, and unlock a new passion that you can use to help Australian science.
A small brightly-coloured parrot peering at the camera from the left size of the frame, beak open as if excited.

Australia’s got the wildlife, and we’ve got the field guides to get excited about! (Photo: David Clode / Unsplash)


Australian wildlife is certainly something to get excited about – so many of our fauna species are endemic, and found nowhere else on the planet. That doesn’t just apply to our conspicuously unique animals, such as the platypus or koala, but also birds, frogs, insects… even mosquitoes!

To help inspire your inner entomologist, herpetologist or ornithologist, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the amazing Aussie animals that you might choose to get to know a little better, with the help of a handy field guide.


Learn the bird-nacular

From the city streets to the remote outback, wherever you are in Australia you’re surely not far from a bird. Be a good neighbour to these feathered Australians by learning about our incredible and diverse birdlife – you may even learn the names of the birds that soundtrack your days (and sometimes your very early mornings).

This guide is a lovely example of how everyday citizens can help advance our scientific understanding; the distribution maps drew on 16 million data records collected over several decades by thousands of volunteers and researchers, and the authors and illustrators amassed a digital reference database of more than 300,000 photographs provided by birdwatchers.

Birds of a feather will flock to The Australian Bird Guide, Revised Edition.



‘Living fossils’ looking good for their age

While dragonflies and damselflies earn our appreciation simply for their myriad colours, their strange and beautiful bodies, and the way they flit and fly about, they are also ‘living fossils’ and have remained essentially unchanged for millions of years.  Perhaps the next Jurassic Park movie should feature Australia’s Petaltail dragonflies (genus Petalura), which are similar to fossil dragonflies from the Jurassic Period!

Get all the deets on dragonflies and damselflies in The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia, Second Edition.



Splendid stag beetles

Stag beetles are striking, even beautiful… but you’d be forgiven for not knowing that, since most lead cryptic lives hidden away from humans. Some species spend their entire life cycle inside decaying timber or under logs sunken into the soil of the forest. Not just a pretty face, these shy beetles help break down decaying wood and play an important role in the web of life as active recyclers of the forest.

In the words of authors George Hangay and Roger de Keyser: “Coleopterists study a seemingly small segment of the living world and, through this keyhole view, study and contribute to the understanding of life on Earth. Yes, the study is endless and so is our marvel at life.”

Marvel at some beetle beauties with A Guide to Stag Beetles of Australia.



A real Prince Charming

Asked to name a frog, most of us would be familiar with iconic tree frogs or the endangered Corroboree Frog. But there are so many more species to discover: burrowing frogs that spend long periods underground, frogs that secrete toxic liquid or slippery mucus when handled, species that bypass the free-swimming tadpole stage and instead hatch from their egg capsules as tiny frogs, and even one species where the males carry their tadpoles in hip pouches!

If you’re a fan of frogs, you’d be hopping silly not to read Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia, Second Edition.



Un-bee-lievably beautiful native bees

Author Terry Houston begins his guide to native bees with the words “For those people who have no knowledge of bees other than the European honeybee, Apis mellifera, this book should be a revelation.” And to open your eyes to Australia’s native bees is truly a journey of discovery and wonder… because we don’t just have a dozen or even a few hundred species of native bees, but an estimated 2000!

They run the gamut from large to tiny, colourful to plain, and social to solitary, but all perform essential tasks in pollinating Australia’s native plants and flowers and keeping your garden – and our world – blooming.

Find out what the buzz is with A Guide to Native Bees of Australia.



Spread your wings with butterflies

Considered by many to be the ‘birds’ of the insect world, for their visibility and charming beauty, butterflies are some of the most popular insects. Around half of the butterflies species recorded in Australia are endemic and found nowhere else in the world – but we still have much to learn about the distribution, biology and behaviour of many species.

Citizen scientists have played a major role in advancing scientific knowledge of Australian butterflies – about 80% of all specimens in public museum collections have been donated by hobbyists, and are now helping scientists learn more about the evolution, variation, seasonality and geographic distribution of butterfly species in Australia.

Set your heart aflutter with The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies, Second Edition.



And last but certainly not least (except in size):

Mosquitoes: micro miscreant or just misunderstood?

Anyone who has ever tried to get to sleep when there is a mosquito in the room can attest that they are the most annoying animal on the planet. But did you know that they are also the deadliest? Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever kill millions of people around the world each year.

But not all mosquitoes deliver deadly diseases; only about a dozen of the 300+ described mosquito species in Australia pose a significant public health risk. Some mosquito species don’t even bite humans, preferring animals such as birds, reptiles or frogs, and some don’t feed on blood at all – Malaya leei has been observed drinking regurgitated liquid directly from the mouth of ants!

Make sense of mozzies with A Guide to Mosquitoes of Australia.



If we’ve kindled your curiosity, these wildlife guides (and many more) can be ordered through your local bookshop, or click on the covers below to find out more and purchase your copy via our website.

Cover of 'The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia, Second Edition' featuring a large blue dragonfly resting on a green stalk, with three smaller dragonfly images above the title. Cover of 'Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia, Second Edition' featuring a painting of the magnificent tree frog perched on a stem and smaller images of three other frogs above the title. Cover of 'The Australian Bird Guide' featuring a brolga flying over the white title with a red-capped robin in the foreground perched on a branch. The cover is blue with a red 'Revised Edition' ribbon on the top left corner. Cover of 'A Guide to Native Bees of Australia' featuring a photo of a blue-banded bee on a purple flower, with three smaller photos of bees above the title. Cover of 'A Guide to Stag Beetles of Australia' featuring a photo of a beautiful metallic stag beetle on a log, with four small photos of other stag beetles above the title. Cover of 'The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia' featuring a prominent image of an orange and black butterfly against a green background and thumbnails of four other butterflies across the top. Cover of 'A Guide to Mosquitoes of Australia' featuring a large close-up image of an orange mosquito, as well as four smaller images above the title showing mosquitoes in various stages of development.


Interested in putting your new-found zoology knowledge to work? Citizen science projects harness the power of community collaboration to extend the reach and impact of research, with citizen volunteers often helping professional scientists and field experts to collect and analyse data at a large scale. The best thing is, you don’t need a university degree to help out!

Start your citizen scientist journey with these resources: