An Australian naturalist expresses his concerns about the feeding of wild birds and examines the impact not just on birds, but on the environment as a whole.
As Jones (Deputy Director, Environmental Futures Research Institute/Griffith Univ.; co-author: Mound-Builders, 2009, etc.) writes, people feed wild birds for a variety of reasons, but chief among them are the pleasure they get from watching them and the belief that they are helping the birds. Throughout the book, the author provides readers with numerous arguments to question the truth of the latter. Jones looks at the evolution of bird feeding from winter-only to a year-round practice, a change that has an impact on bird populations, distribution, health, and behaviors. He provides a graphic description of the extraordinary growth of the bird food industry and asks how and why this came about. The author introduces many questions, but while there are countless books about what and how to feed wild birds, he finds that there is a dearth of scientific research addressing his concerns about what wild bird feeding means for landscapes, ecosystems, and the birds themselves. What is known, Jones reports, is that the bird food industry is gigantic and influential, the amount of feed put out for wild birds is astronomical, year-round feeding will lead to changes in bird behavior, and feeders—points of bird-to-bird contact—can spread disease. Readers expecting a user-friendly guide to backyard bird feeding will not find it here. This is a hard look at the practice that raises serious questions and suggests that the consequences of this commonplace and seemingly harmless and pleasant pastime need further investigation by the scientific community. At the end of the book, the author includes a helpful appendix, “Species Mentioned in the Text,” that lists both common and scientific names.
An intriguing book that is sure to ruffle the feathers of many nonscientist bird enthusiasts.