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Friday, June 02, 2006

Book I wish I had written

A couple of years ago, I was teaching a class on urban bird conservation at the University of Texas, when I learned that Laura Erickson, who I knew from the Conservationthrougbirding listserv, was writing a book entitled 101 Ways to Help Birds. She shared her 101 ideas with me, and I shared them with my class. I commented on a couple chapter drafts, and have been anxiously awaiting the book in print.

When I finally got the book, I was thrilled. It was everything I had hoped it would be...and more.

Before commenting on the content, let me just say that this is one of the most attractive books I've seen in a long time. I love the greens on the cover (great job, Wendy Reynolds), the stippled illustrations by Roger Hall, the sturdy off-white pages, clear typefont, and simple but very functional layout. In the days of cheap printing and maybe too-easy publishing, this book is everything a book should be and a joy to hold in the hand.

The layout of the book follows the premise of its title, providing 101 suggestions on ways to help birds, broken into 5 parts: helping birds at home, enhancing the natural habitat of your backyard, supplementing backyard habitat, helping birds away from home, and helping birds on a larger scale. These parts are further categorized into 22 sections that cover a wide range of topics from bird feeding and avoiding hitting birds in your car to green consumer tips. Each of the 101 ways to help birds is written clearly and concisely, with specific recommendations on how to help the birds. Each of the ways is backed up with the facts and figures needed to inform the reader of the nature of the threat faced by birds, as well as the best ways to address those threats.

If this book were just a collection of ideas on how to help birds, it would be well worth the cover price of $19.95. But happily, Laura Erickson draws upon her own experiences as a bird rehabilitator and educator to provide personal examples related to many of her tips. These range from the joys of providing food for a wintering Rufous Hummingbird--mealworms mixed in a blender with sugar water, to the heartbreak of dealing with songbirds injured by housecats. The authors experiences and gentle tone make this an easy read, and turns what could easily become a depressing subject (the numerous threats faced by birds) into a hopeful agenda for people wanting to do the right thing for their feathered neighbors.

There are a lot of great bird books out there right now, but this one isn't to be missed. Besides serving as a handbook of how to help birds, it could also serve as great gift for a neighbor, or better yet, a local political leader or civic official. The attractive cover and layout will ensure that the book is picked up, and the great information and delivery will ensure that it is actually read and frequently referred to as you and your neighbors take effective measures to help the birds.


Anonymous said...

Laura's book is a must read for anyone interested in conservation.It truely is a wonderful book,and no I have never met or worked for Laura Erickson.The books title could also be "101 ways to help humanity simply by helping birds "

Anonymous said...

I am sending this email with no intent other than to inform

I just spent the scariest week of my life with breathing shortness ( I could barely walk to the next room without
running out of breath)

Turns out I had a severe and COMMON allergic reaction to my sons mealworm farm.
We have kept mealworms for about a month to not only feed my sons lizards, but to compliment
the sunflower seeds, thistle, suet and other seeds we feed wild birds in our yard.

After 3 hospital visits,
I was properly diagnosed and treated with steroids, I am still a bit short of breath
but improving.

I should note, I do not have asthma, and have never smoked.

Tonight I am doing research on this and find it very common

I also found your website stating mealworms are a good food item for birds.

I am not sure I am ready to set out on a campaign to educate the world.

But, I felt when I saw you website I owed it to people to at least share this info. with someone.

You may want to read
or search Google for mealworm allergy or mealworm asthma

Its up to you if you pass this info. along to anyone.
I feel better knowing I have shared it.

No need to reply back


Jon Van Buren
Fax 651-638-2221

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