A section of the 'What Birdo is That?' cover showing an illustration of a person in a bowler hat holding binoculars up to their eyes. A red bird sits on their hat.

Join Professor Libby Robin as she launches her latest book What Birdo is That? A Field Guide to Bird People, a book that draws heavily on the National Library's collections. Professor Saul Cunningham will be introducing the event, and Professor Robin will be joined in conversation by Dr Leo Joseph.

Entry is free to this event but bookings are essential. You do not need to book a ticket to watch the event online on our Facebook or YouTube pages.

Following the discussion in the Theatre, Professor Robin will be available for book signings in the Foyer.

About the book

The front cover of the book 'What Birdo is That?'

What Birdo is That? reveals how bird-people in Australia have gone about their craft across the years. Its stories come from wild places – at sea as well as on the land-from dusty archives, from restoration projects, gardens and urban wastelands. This field guide to Australia's bird-people provides a basis for understanding the complex relationship between people and birds in a land of extremes at the forefront of changing climate and habitats.

About Professor Libby Robin

Emeritus Professor Libby Robin FAHA is an historian of science and environmental ideas. She is Emeritus Professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. Career highlights include Guest Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm in the Division of History of Science and Technology (2011-2014; affiliated professor 2015-2017) and Senior Fellow in the National Museum of Australia's Reseach Centre (2007-2015). 

Professor Robin has published widely in the history of science, international and comparative environmental history, and the ecological humanities. She has won national and international prizes in History (How a Continent Created a Nation), in Zoology (Boom and Bust), and in literature (Flight of the Emu, The Future of Nature). She was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in 2013. 

About Dr Leo Joseph

Dr Leo Joseph joined CSIRO as Director of the Australian National Wildlife Collection in November 2005. Originally from Adelaide and still a birdwatcher at heart, he developed an early but lifelong interest in the evolution of birds, one that still guides his work today. From 1994-97, he held a Visiting Professorship in the Laboratorio de Evolución, Faculdad de Ciencias, Montevideo, Uruguay. There he developed interests in the evolution of migration. This work typified his interest in integrating ecological diversity and evolution. In 1997 he took up a position in the Department of Ornithology at the then Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in the USA. From 2003, he was Chair of the Department but returned to Australia in 2005.

Most recently, his program has extended into understanding the genomic basis of adaptation in birds. He was awarded the D. L. Serventy Medal for Publication in Australian Ornithology in 2018. In 2020 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Ornithological Societies 

About Professor Saul Cunningham

Professor Saul Cunningham's first experience of research was as an Honours student at Monash University. He then received a Fulbright Award to support Ph.D. studies in the USA with field work in Costa Rica. In 1995, he returned home to Australia and commenced post-doctoral projects at Macquarie University, before joining CSIRO in Canberra as a Research Scientist. Over a 17-year period with CSIRO, Professor Cunningham developed a research program focusing on the challenge of maintaining biodiversity in landscapes dedicated to agricultural production. He has worked with farming industry groups, local landholder groups, and a wide network of international colleagues with shared interests. 

In 2015 the Ecological Society of Australia honoured Professor Cunningham with the "Australian Ecology Research Award". He was a contributor to the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment Report on Pollination and Food Production, published in 2016. Professor Cunningham has been Director of the Fenner School of Environment & Society since 2017. 

Type Book event