Certified Bird Nerds

Pledging to Protect Australia’s Native Birds

The Gould League of Bird Lovers was one of Australia’s early organised societies for budding ornithologists and general bird nerds. The League was formed in 1909 with the view of protecting Australia’s avian species.

It was named after John Gould (1804-1881), the English naturalist who researched Australian birds from 1838-1840, and his wife Elizabeth Gould (1804-1841), a natural history artist who illustrated the native birds he studied.

These certificates certify League membership for a father-daughter duo from Dudley in the Lake Macquarie region, Albert (1887-1953) and Nancy (1910-1981) Wallbank. The Lake Macquarie Cultural Collections holds a number of items which reveal their many shared interests, namely community service. However, these certificates feel the most quaint.

The Government Printer at the time, Mr. W. A. Gullick, served in this role from 1896 until his death in 1922, so it is likely that Nancy was only a young child when she received this certificate,. This would mean that Nancy Wallbank took the Bird Lovers’ pledge well before it was cool.

It was not until 1930 that there was a program of membership certificates and pledges brought into Australian schools alongside a bird and egg protection campaign. This created a great change in attitude towards native bird conservation for the better.

The organisation still exists today as the Gould League, having shortened the name in 1967. This name change was a response to the League’s broadening focus on environmental conservation, sustainability awareness, and wider nature-based education, of which the organisation remains a champion today.