Are you aware of Australia’s ‘turbo chooks’? Did you know that some birds have a
sense of smell? That many are far better off not being able to fly? Or that some of
us have bizarre superstitions surrounding birds and death? A new book by
prominent Aussie naturalist Ian Fraser uncovers the fascinating world of our
feathered friends and the sometimes strange world of the people who spend
their lives absorbed in them.

Released by CSIRO Publishing, Birds in Their Habitats: Journeys with a Naturalist,
has Fraser combining humour and travel yarns (backed with sound scientific
knowledge) revealing the secret lives, habits and skills of the incredible winged

“Wherever we are (outside at least), there are birds. And for those of us immersed in the awareness of
birds, it’s not something we just go and do sometimes. It’s an integral part of our entire existence. Just
like being in love really,” explains Fraser, a prominent broadcaster, blogger and recent recipient of an
Order of Australia Medal.


In what might best be described as a birding travelogue, Fraser takes readers through four continents,
from unfamiliar and exotic locales in places like Chile, Cameroon and Borneo, all the way to the
wonders of the Australian backyard. Birds in Their Habitats is a compelling collection of stories,
experiences and anecdotes that can’t fail to change your understanding and appreciation of the birds
that fill our days and our world.

Backed by a wealth of historical and contemporary research, the book also explores how birds are
being affected by the game‐changing effects of global warming.

Fraser shares with the reader the reasons why he fell in love with birds, and then chases them
(sometimes as part of his own holidays) across the planet. To some it may seem like an obsession. To
him, it’s simply natural. For the rest of us, the results are absolutely fascinating.

And for those of you still wondering what on earth a ‘turbo chook’ is, well Fraser describes it as a
“slightly manic‐looking hyperactive Tasmanian Nativehen. Big birds, half a metre high, Tasmanians
refer to them fondly as turbo chooks!”

About the Author:

Ian Fraser is a naturalist, conservationist, regular contributor and commentator
on ABC Radio (local and national), natural history tour guide and adult educator
who lives in Canberra.

Birds in Their Habitats: Journeys with a Naturalist by Ian Fraser
Released: March 1st $39.95 PB 240 pp