Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Keith Alfred Hindwood (1904–1971)

by Ernest S. Hoskin

This article was published:

Keith Alfred Hindwood (1904-1971), ornithologist and businessman, was born on 3 July 1904 at Willoughby, Sydney, younger of twin sons and third of four children of native-born parents Alfred Joseph Hindwood, stationer, and his wife Ida Ellen, née Phillips. Keith was educated at North Sydney Public School until the age of 14. In 1928 he set up a wholesale stationery, office supplies and printing business; he was to convert it into a company in the late 1950s and run it until he retired in 1970. At St John's Anglican Church, Darlinghurst, on 29 October 1936 he married Marjorie Goddard, a stenographer.

In 1924 Hindwood had joined the Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union. The first of 185 articles that he published in its journal, the Emu, appeared in 1926: it was a detailed life-study of a distinctive bird, the rock warbler (Origma rubricata). Throughout his life he recorded occurrences and aspects of bird behaviour in his comprehensive files. Between 1928 and 1937 he submitted fifty-two photographs of natural history subjects to the Sydney Mail and in 1931-32—as 'Oriole'—wrote a column, 'Nature Notes and Studies', in the Land newspaper. He made regular excursions to different bird habitats around Sydney and several camping trips beyond, two to determine the restricted range of the rock warbler in New South Wales.

Interested in historical ornithology, Hindwood belonged to the Royal Australian Historical Society. His honeymoon on Lord Howe Island sparked his enthusiasm to research its ornithological history, including extinct birds. He published the results in the Emu and in The Birds of Lord Howe Island (1940). He later wrote articles on pioneer naturalists and early colonial artists, among them George Raper. His other books included The Waders of Sydney (with E. S. Hoskin, 1955), The Birds of Sydney (with A. R. McGill, 1958), Australian Birds in Colour (1966), and A Portfolio of Australian Birds (illustrated by William T. Cooper, 1968). In 1960 and 1961 Hindwood joined two colleagues, K. Keith and D. L. Serventy, in the survey vessel, H.M.A.S. Gascoyne, on voyages to the Coral Sea. Their conclusions on the birds of the area were published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization as Birds of the South-West Coral Sea (1963).

Although he was strictly an amateur, Hindwood was recognized as a world authority on Australian birds. Honorary ornithologist (later research associate) at the Australian Museum, Sydney, for over forty years, he was a life member (from 1931) of the Gould League of Bird Lovers of New South Wales, a corresponding fellow (1938) of the American Ornithologists' Union, president (1939) and fellow (1950) of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, and president (1944-46) and fellow (1951) of the R.A.O.U. In 1959 he was awarded the Australian Natural History medallion.

Kindly, philanthropic and humane, with a jovial sense of humour, Hindwood consistently helped the underprivileged. He also encouraged young people to study birds. Experienced observers sought his guidance and constructive criticism of their manuscripts before publication and obtained information from his files. 'Lofty' Hindwood was 6 ft 3 ins (191 cm) tall, slim and agile. While bird-watching in Royal National Park, he died suddenly of coronary artery disease on 18 March 1971 and was cremated. His wife, daughter and son survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Museum, Australian Natural History, 15 June 1971, p 54
  • Royal Australian Historical Society, Newsletter, June 1971, p 7
  • Emu (Melbourne), Oct 1971, p 183
  • Hindwood papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ernest S. Hoskin, 'Hindwood, Keith Alfred (1904–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Oriole

3 July, 1904
Willoughby, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


18 March, 1971 (aged 66)
New South Wales, Australia