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The joy of reading comes home to you strongly when you open this book with the rather bland title Budgerigar. Looking at the book’s cover, you would think it may be about,” How to care for your budgie,” but on the first page, we learn about Winston Churchill’s affinity with this bird. From there, we move to the first settlers in Australia and their reactions to this unusual bird. The story fills in gaps in Australian History involving Joseph Banks and John Gould adding to our understanding of those times.

Interesting snippets of information, such as Richard Branson beginning his illustrious career by starting out as a budgie breeder, keep the reader interested. But the Historical details on early Australian practices are fascinating. As a convict, John Roach came to Australia. On landing, he claimed his occupation to be a “Bird Stuffer.” He was immediately transferred to a museum in 1834. In 1843, he opened his own Museum and sold birds overseas, as the budgerigar was desired by many. It was noted that Captain Cook ate birds, as did most of the settlers.

John Gould, together with his wife Elizabeth, drew and documented many birds. John was known to say that he was never happier than when he had a dead bird in his hand. Edward Lear was also an artist for the Gould’s for some time. The Aboriginal association with the ‘budgie’ is well known; from Dreaming Stories to Art and songs, this bird features widely.

There is a section of photographs in the middle of the book with many famous people shown handling or talking to budgies. There are also stories of where these birds were taken, how they delighted their overseas owners, and their precocious behaviours. Later, we read about different breeders and how they managed to maintain the purity of some rare species. This is a delightful book, far reaching and interesting for History Buffs, and Naturalists alike.

Author Sarah Harris and Don Baker
Publisher Allen and Unwin
ISBN 9781760875480
Distributor Allen and Unwin
Released March 2020