306 pages, 76 colour & 37 b/w photos, 3 colour maps, 2 tables
Today, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, more than fifty million Americans feed birds around their homes, and over the last sixty years, billions of pounds of birdseed have filled millions of feeders in backyards everywhere. Feeding Wild Birds in America tells why and how a modest act of provision has become such a pervasive, popular, and often passionate aspect of people's lives.
Each chapter provides details on one or more bird-feeding development or trend including the "discovery" of seeds, the invention of different kinds of feeders, and the creation of new companies. Also woven into Feeding Wild Birds in America are the worlds of education, publishing, commerce, professional ornithology, and citizen science, all of which have embraced bird feeding at different times and from different perspectives.
The authors take a decade-by-decade approach starting in the late nineteenth century, providing a historical overview in each chapter before covering topical developments (such as hummingbird feeding and birdbaths). On the one hand, they show that the story of bird feeding is one of entrepreneurial invention; on the other hand, they reveal how Americans, through a seemingly simple practice, have come to value the natural world.
"Feeding Wild Birds in America is much more than the most complete history of the practice and business of feeding birds. Woven through this rich history are insights about how to set up feeders that are not only safe for birds but also most likely to provide engaging experiences. Such encounters are more important than ever – because birds certainly need more caring friends."
– Dr. Stephen W. Kress, Vice President, National Audubon Society, Bird Conservation Director/Seabird Restoration Project, Author, The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds
"Even after 32 years in the industry, I still learned incredibly interesting information about the history of bird feeding and bird feeding vendors in this book. The authors did a great job researching and organizing the details of the hobby as it has grown over the last 120 years."
– Jim Carpenter Founder, Preseident, and CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited Inc.
"Feeding Wild Birds in America is a fine cross cultural narrative, an intersection of natural history, conservation, curiosity, and even entrepreneurship; A noble work."
– Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University
"Backyard bird feeding is by far the most popular form of bird watching. Via strategically placed feeders, our kitchen windows, rec rooms, man caves, and dining rooms have become portals to the natural world. This information-packed book is your bridge to the history of this thoroughly enjoyable pastime. Your greatest challenge may well be apportioning your time between this engagingly written book and the feathered minions gathering on the far side of your window."
– Pete Dunne, Birding Ambassador, New Jersey Audubon
"The book is a fascinating history of our love affair with feeding birds [...] wrapped with wonderful insights on how bird feeding can be used to connect people to nature right at our doorstep. It's a treasure."
– Josetta Hawthorne, Executive Director, Council for Environmental Education
"This is a lovely book indeed, and it goes far beyond being a simple history of bird feeding. The authors, who represent an exceptional combination of conservation knowledge and passion about nature, have given us a colorful and fact-filled chronicle of our centuries-long love affair with birds."
– John W. Fitzpatrick, Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
"As you put up a bird feeder, unwrap suet cakes, spread out black-oil sunflower seed, and install a dripping birdbath, you will appreciate how far the bird-feeding hobby has come and the efforts of those who preceded us. As you read this book, those efforts become fascinating connections important to us all."
– George H. Petrides, Sr., Chairman and Founder, Wild Bird Centers of America
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Paul J. Baicich is a conservation writer and editor and an avitourism consultant. He lives in Maryland. Margaret A. Barker, a writer and educator in the Chesapeake Bay area, coordinated the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch. Carrol L. Henderson is supervisor of Minnesota’s Nongame Wildlife Program in the Department of Natural Resources.