General News

In September last year, and also in August, Tim led ecotours to Borneo on behalf of British company Naturetrek (see below). His next tour will be in April.

He wrote a chapter for a book, Eat the Problem, to be published by Hobart’s MONA soon, and the foreword to John Woinarski’s book about Christmas Island extinction, A Bat’s End, published last September.

Tim produced a major report on climate change impacts on the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area in Queensland for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Healthy Land and Water, Brisbane. The report assesses recent changes reported by biologists and park rangers, and provides recommendations for future national park management.

Last July Tim was interviewed on radio by Dr Karl about native species expanding their frontiers, as depicted in his book The New Nature. Tim gave a talk about this topic at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, and as a keynote speaker at the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference in Sydney.

Last May he gave talks about birds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and to the Audubon Society of North Virginia, after he was invited over by Cornell Lab. He was taken into the field by biologists and birdwatchers and saw a range of American critters, including horseshoe crabs, salamanders and migrating warblers.

In May he had a feature about Australian species spreading around Australia appear in Australian Geographic. On 17 March he had an article celebrating pigeons published in the Weekend Australian colour magazine. In the same month he helped launch Darryl Jones’ book The Birds at My Table, interviewing the author at Avid Reader.

Tim was re-appointed a judge of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

He has discontinued his fortnightly blog for Australian Geographic, but past blogs remain online.

Tim continues to work on his next book.

Orang-Utan-Tim lowIn July Tim led a Nature- trek group on a tour of Borneo which proved a great success. In one 90 minute period at night, the group saw a clouded leopard, two sun bears, two elephants and four porcupines.

The clouded leopard remained visible for seven minutes, passing less than three metres from the vehicle.

The bears were seen climbing down from their tree hole. Other species seen included lorises, leopard cats and Whitehead’s trogons.

Book News

Tim Low’s book, Where Song Began continues to attract strong interest.

After an international edition was published by Yale University Press, Tim was invited to speak about it at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the leading organisation for the study of birds in the Americas, in upstate New York, in May last year.

In October, Tim appeared at two events in Brisbane as part of Where Song Began, a musical celebration of birds inspired by Tim’s book and performed by Simone Slattery and Anthony Albrecht. The second performance, in St Mary’s Kangaroo Point, was especially well received. Simone and Anthony toured Tasmania in January.

Before that Tim appeared on the ABC Radio National Program Off Track, in a segment about Simone and Anthony. They have performed Where Song Began in New York, London, Melbourne, Perth and elsewhere.

Tim gave a talk about the book to Birds South Australia in April, and in March he spoke at the Wimmera Landcare National Harmony Day in Horsham.

The book received strong praise from Tim Flannery, in a very long review in the The New York Review of Books, which ends with this:

Where Song Began provides a novel interpretation of Australia’s avifauna that will enrich the understanding of anyone interested in birds. As a professional biologist familiar with much of its matter I found myself astonished again and again.”

In the March 2017 issue of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, William E. Davis wrote that ‘Low is to be congratulated for producing this very idea-rich ecological tapestry. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and found it very thought provoking.”

In December 2016 it was reviewed in Britain’s Literary Review, which described it as an“Illuminating and engaging study.”

In a review in BBC Wildlife magazine, leading bird author Jonathan Elphick was very approving: “I discovered revelations in each of these 12 chapters. The book is written by a biologist with a gift for translating complex scientific research into riveting prose.”

In a November review in America’s Bird Watcher’s Digest it earned this praise:

“Books about ecology and evolutionary biology are rarely so entertaining and engrossing, but Low is a story-teller, and nearly every page offers a compelling, often shocking, story.”

In October it received a recommendation from the editors of Scientific American.

In September the Open Letters Monthly declared it “one of the best works of natural history to appear all year.”

Other reviews have appeared in Canada and Costa Rica.

Yale obtained strong endorsements for the book from experts in the US and Britain, including the following:

“Tim Low masterfully tells a story not told before. He provides an elegant synthesis of the scientific literature and a panoramic view of how Australia’s songbirds originated; the ecological and behavioral forces leading to their uniqueness; and ultimately their far-reaching impacts across the globe.”—Scott Edwards, Harvard University

“On visiting Australia years ago, I struggled to understand bird behaviour I observed. This is the book I needed then, an erudite but accessible insight into why Australia’s birds are ‘different.’”—Robert Prys-Jones, Head of Bird Group, Natural History Museum (London)

The book continues to sell strongly in Australia.

At the Australian Book Industry Awards dinner in Sydney in 2015, it won the prize for best non-fiction of the year.

The ABIA summed up Tim’s win in these words:

“Biologist and prize-winning writer Tim Low took out General Non Fiction Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards on Thursday 21 May 2015 for his intriguing book Where Song Began. Up against the likes of Don Watson, Annabel Crabb and Helen Garner, Tim’s win marks the first time a nature book has won this competitive category.”

This is the second major prize for the book. By a margin of hundreds of votes it won the People’s Choice Award at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards earlier that year. The following day the book was shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards, run by Australia’s independent booksellers.

Since the book appeared Tim has received invitations to speak at bird festivals and other events all over Australia.

Further details about the book and its reception can be found here.

Tim Low with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (Photo: Matt Deller)