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.
The award-winning bestseller that put Australian birds on the world map - nature and science writing at their best.
Tim Low is highly regarded as a biologist and writer. He is the prize-winning author of Feral Future and The New Nature, both published by Penguin, and Wild Food Plants of Australia. He is currently co-editor of Wildlife Australia magazine, to which he has been a long-term contributor. Tim also works as an environmental consultant, and his reports, books, articles and talks have contributed to ecological thought and environmental policy in Australia and more widely. His most recent book, Where Song Began, has even inspired a musical performance of that same name.