About Roberts

The John Voelcker Bird Book Fund.

The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund are a small group of dedicated business people and scientists that give freely of their time (without remuneration), to further the interests of Ornithology in southern Africa.

They are committed to the perpetuation of Roberts Bird Books (and related products), operate with minimum profit margins and use whatever profits are generated to plough back into ornithology in the region.

Ostrich by N lighton

Roberts Birds - First Edition

In December 1935 the South African Bird Book Fund was formed to fund a complete and up-to-date new bird book for southern Africa under the authorship of Austin Roberts, and illustrated by Norman C.K. Lighton. The successful and popular first edition, titled The Birds of South Africa, was published on 8 June 1940. The affairs of the fund were handled by the secretary, John Voelcker, who became chairman after the untimely death of Austin Roberts in 1948. He, together with the other Trustees of the Fund, became the driving force that ensured that the original edition was revised and updated.

In 1957, seventeen years after the release of the first edition, the Trustees published the second edition under the authorship of G.R. McLachan and R. Liversidge, who also revised the third (1970) and fourth (1978) editions, titled Roberts Birds of South Africa. The Trust had by now become known as the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, a non-profit organisation with limited funding derived from subscriptions and minimal profit from the sale of books. The fifth and sixth editions (1985 and 1993) were revised by Gordon L. Maclean. The seventh edition (2005), entrusted to the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, was completely rewritten under the editorship of P.A.R. Hockey, W.R.J. Dean, and P.G. Ryan.

Future Publications
With well over 300 000 copies of Roberts books sold to date, the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund is committed to remaining the forerunner in the publication of up-to-date bird information in the region, and to making publications as affordable as possible to the southern African birding community.