303 pages, 41 b/w illustrations
Welcome to Subirdia presents a surprising discovery: the suburbs of many large cities support incredible biological diversity. Populations and communities of a great variety of birds, as well as other creatures, are adapting to the conditions of our increasingly developed world. In this fascinating and optimistic book, John Marzluff reveals how our own actions affect the birds and animals that live in our cities and towns, and he provides ten specific strategies everyone can use to make human environments friendlier for our natural neighbors.
Over many years of research and fieldwork, Marzluff and student assistants have closely followed the lives of thousands of tagged birds seeking food, mates, and shelter in cities and surrounding areas. From tiny Pacific wrens to grand pileated woodpeckers, diverse species now compatibly share human surroundings. By practicing careful stewardship with the biological riches in our cities and towns, Marzluff explains, we can foster a new relationship between humans and other living creatures – one that honors and enhances our mutual destiny.
"[...] This book is informative and enjoyable to read and includes chapter notes which refer to papers and references at the end of the book for those wanting to find out more from the primary research. It caters for a broad readership, from wildlife enthusiasts to specialists in the field of urban ecology or anyone wishing to further their appreciation of the diversity on their doorstep."
– Emma Rosenfeld, Ibis (158), 2016
"Enjoy and bond with nature where you live and work. Marzluff has done this, and it has given him contagious joy that shows in the pages of this enjoyable and informative book. [...] This engaging book tells what Marzluff and his students found out about suburbia and its surprisingly rich wildlife, and how we should respond to this abundance."
– New York Review of Books
"Marzluff's academic work and his lifelong passion for birds have merged in his beautiful and informative new book [...] His conclusions offer hope in an era of despair at what humans' destructive habits are doing to wildlife."
– Seattle Times
"As Marzluff shows in this rich account of fieldwork in 'metropolitan wilds' from New Zealand to Costa Rica, such annexed environments – which boast some 75 billion trees in the United States alone – can host an astounding diversity of birds. But, he argues passionately, intelligently and with scientific authority, any land-use change reweaves the ecological web, and may leave it threadbare."
"This excellent book documents engagingly how wildlife has adapted to urban and suburban areas, often in surprising ways [...] Most highly recommended for all interested in wildlife, city planning, and urban ecology."
– Library Journal (starred review)
"[...] this book is a terrific compilation of facts about suburban wildlife (much more than birds, and well beyond its US core). There are awful statistics – about cats especially, but also skyscraper collisions, poisons and habitat loss – and many happily more positive ones."
– Rob Hume, Birdwatch
"I have the greatest admiration for Marzluff's passionate book. He sets himself the task of distilling the latest specialist research for a wider audience and he succeeds triumphantly."
– Jonathan Wright, The Glasgow Herald
"John Marzluff writes with authority and insight about the lives and habits of birds around us and suggests steps we can take to protect them in an increasingly hostile world."
– Peter Doherty, Nobel Laureate and author of Their Fate is Our Fate: How Birds Foretell Threats to Our Health and Our World
"Suburbs are increasingly an important factor affecting wildlife, especially birds – both negatively and positively. There is much that we can do for animals as 'good neighbors' that enriches their lives and ours. Nobody is more well-suited and qualified than John Marzluff to address this issue."
– Bernd Heinrich, author of The Homing Instinct: Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration, Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death, and Mind of the Raven
"I know of no other book that covers this topic. The synthesis is novel and powerful [...] This is a unique, interesting, and important work."
– Steward Pickett, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
"A triumph! Everything you wanted to know about suburban birds – and more."
– Tim Birkhead, author of Bird Sense and Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin
"With enthusiasm, wit, and compelling scholarship, John Marzluff challenges us to reconsider a forgotten landscape. Welcome to Suburdia is more than entertaining – it will change the way you think about cities, nature, and your own backyard."
– Thor Hanson, author of Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle
"What is a scientist to do when he discovers that he's seen more bird species in New York's Central Park than he did in Yellowstone? Study the phenomenon, of course. Marzluff's exploration of this seeming paradox leads him to "subirdia" – that edgy place between suburbs and wilderness. If you love nature, but feel guilty about owning a plot in the "burbs," or being a city denizen, take heart. Birds – and other wild creatures – are doing better there than most of us think, Marzluff reveals in this engaging and beautifully written book. [...] You'll come away, too, with a bird's appreciation of your own backyard. That (unmowed) lawn is a savannah! Those parkway trees, a forest. The birdbath, a pond. We haven't lost the birds and animals; we've brought them to us. Marzluff's book shines with insights and revelations into a natural world many of us live in but fail to see: Our own backyards."
– Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise: How We Know Animals Think and Feel
"John Marzluff has combined his experiences as an ornithologist, urban ecologist, and observer of nature into a very readable book about birds, humans, and our linked fates in a rapidly changing world."
– Stephen DeStefano, author of Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia
"Marzluff has hit a winner [...] This easily read but engrossing account offers something for everyone [...] Writing with the sure hand of an inveterate observer – a crack scientist with the soul of a nice guy next door – Marzluff takes readers into his life in Seattle, working with teams of his graduate students and some admirable neighbors. Readers visit ten cities around the world and marvel at the simplicity of the author's ten rules [...] Beautifully illustrated in black-and-white by Jack Delap, with accuracy and touches of humor. For scientists, bird lovers, philosophers – and everyone else. Highly recommended."
" [...] Marzluff writes well, and with passion appropriate for motivating his target audience, the layman. He cites many convincing statistics [...] and he has timed his writing to take advantage of a growing awareness among suburbanites that the nature they knew as children has been replaced [...] "
– Douglas W. Tallamy, University of Delaware
"In this captivating book John Marzluff describes how “Homo urbanus” has been shaping biodiversity in cities and towns, drawing examples from his own extensive research as well as other studies, in particular from Europe. The initial distinction between species that are “avoiders” or “adapters” within the transition from wilderness to suburbia and city centres introduces a very good overview of the challenges and population-limiting factors faced by urban species. A section on the role of humans as drivers of species adaptation in our cities introduces the second part of the book, focused on ten practical aspects that people can address in order to “facilitate biological diversity”. This book is a fascinating account of the processes shaping urban bird biodiversity in the USA and the rest of the Western world. It offers a reminder that people in cities are losing touch with nature, which in turn is adapting to live alongside them in a fragile ecosystem. The accessible narrative style and comprehensive cover of the key aspects make this book an excellent read for anyone interested in the subject of the impact of urbanisation on birds"
– BTO book reviews
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John M. Marzluff is James W. Ridgeway Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington. The author or co-author of more than 130 scientific papers and five books, he is a renowned ornithologist and urban ecologist. He lives in Snohomish, WA.
Jack DeLap is a Ph.D. candidate in wildlife science at the University of Washington. His natural science illustrations have appeared in a variety of books and journals. He lives in Seattle, WA.