National Library of Australia, September 2015. 216 pages, Quarto, paperback, colour illustrations, maps.
Our relationship with the birds of prey has always been conflicted. Raptors are admired for their strength and independence, but despised for their depredations on livestock and favourite garden birds, while the owls are at once respected for their wisdom and watchfulness and feared for their mournful cries and association with darkness and ill-omen. Australian Predators of the Sky comprises over 200 striking paintings, lithographs and engravings of all 34 Australian species – 25 diurnal birds of prey and nine owls. From odd-looking first depictions to stunning, detailed portrayals of the species, the illustrations cover more than two centuries of bird art, selected from the National Library of Australia’s collection. The artists include George Raper and John Hunter (First Fleet naval officers), Sarah Stone, John and Elizabeth Gould, Ellis Rowan, Neville Henry Cayley, Lilian Medland, Ebenezer Edward Gostelow, and, more recently, Betty Temple Watts, Frank Knight and Jeff Davies.