The Birds at My Table: why we feed wild birds and why it matters
By Darryl Jones
Comstock Publishing Associates, 2018; pbk, 327pp; no illustrations; ISBN 978-1-5017-1078-0
£15.95 buy it from the BB Bookshop
For many people, their first encounter with birds is through feeding them – probably ducks or pigeons in a local park as a child – and for that reason alone, bird feeding is an important social activity. Indeed, over a million tons of seed are sold globally each year to feed wild birds, and nearly 60 million Americans now feed birds in their gardens. The bird food industry has grown fast in the UK too, and now most garden centres devote entire display zones to things you can buy to give to your garden birds. But is feeding birds really a good thing? And have many of us have now gone too far by feeding through the summer as well?
Darryl Jones takes a global look at the issues, describing the different attitudes to bird feeding around the world. For example, compared to us, most of our European colleagues are tight-fisted with their bird food offerings and in some countries feeding birds in gardens is almost unheard of. This book takes a serious look at the issues and asks many more questions than it answers. It shows how our feeding of birds has had impacts that we have rarely considered. For example, have weinfluenced the distribution of Eurasian Sparrowhawks Accipiter nisus, shifting themaway from woodlands towardsgardens where feeding birds are easier prey? Has our feeding encouraged birds to shift their migration patterns and timings? And how much harm have we done to some birds by spreading disease via unclean feeders?
The author has travelled widely to research this book and sought views from those in the bird food industry as well as scientists in organisations such as the BTO. In a publication like this I really like facts to be delivered succinctly, and for me the author’s style is way too conversational for a book that sets out to provide answers to key questions. Many of his opinions – such as those about the challenges of dealing with statistical data – are repeated numerous times. Much of the text felt like a rather verbose discussion in which many issues were raised but relatively few conclusions reached. That said, if you want to know more about the issue of bird feeding, there is much here to interest you.
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Source: Bird Watching