Coate, Kevin and Lance Merritt.

This book provides a rare insight into the far north of Western Australia, the capture of over one million wild finches, their marketing and their distribution around the world. It is the first complete analysis of lawful, and sometimes questionable, trapping and trading of Australian wild birds, and the operations of authorities who allowed the industry to linger in Western Australia between 1897 and 1986.

The work redresses the void of published information relating to the capture of wild finch species found in the Kimberley District of Western Australia, the trappers themselves and their methods, those trading in finches and some statistical data. The Red-eared Firetail, an Estrildid finch endemic to the South West of Western Australia, is also included in this work. The book reflects the pioneering spirit of early settlers, explorers, scientific specimen collectors, and adventure seekers who visited or resided in the remote north of Australia. All were bushmen with exciting tales of hardship and observations that enthralled urban dwellers.

Initial trapping supplied European markets, which gave way to domestic markets after the Second World War. In Australia finch trapping and commercial avicultural trading peaked in the late-1950s, remained strong until the late-1990s and then waned. It has detailed coverage of the birds affected, individual stories of over 150 men and women touched by the trapping industry, the role of Aboriginals and historical aspects of Kimberley life, with over 1,600 source references for researchers.

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Hesperian Press, 2015, Quarto, paperback, 390 pages, 48 colour and nine sepia plates.

Additional information

Weight 1320 g