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Silence Of The Songbirds [Paperback]

Bridget Stutchbury
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 17 2008
Migratory songbirds are disappearing at a frightening rate. By some estimates, we may have already lost almost half the songbirds that filled the skies only 40 years ago. Following the birds on their 10,000-kilometre migratory journey, Bridget Stutchbury looks at the most threatening factors in their extinction, from pesticides, still a major concern decades after Rachel Carson first raised the alarm, to the destruction of vital habitat; from the bright lights and structures in our cities—which are a minefield for migrating birds—to climate change. We may well wake up in the near future and hear no songbirds singing. We won’t only be missing their cheery calls, we’ll be missing a vital part of our ecosystem.

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From Publishers Weekly

Stutchbury, an avid bird researcher and biology professor at York University in Toronto, paints a complex picture of the current condition of songbirds and their habitats. The bad news is that songbird populations are decreasing alarmingly due to industrialization and development. In their tropical winter homes, habitat is shrinking and farmers routinely apply fatal amounts of pesticides. In songbirds' North American breeding grounds, invasive cowbirds sneak into their nests and replace songbird eggs with their own, house cats kill millions every year and logging threatens the birds' boreal forest homes. During their long, always treacherous migrations, they encounter many 21st-century perils: city lights that distract from guiding stars, and perilous radio towers and wind turbines. Songbirds control insects and helping plant propagation through pollination and seed spreading in many ecosystems. As they diminish in number, fragile environments may be "shaken to the core." The good news is that we can help the birds survive, by buying shade-grown coffee and turning out city lights at night, among other ways. Stutchbury's affection for the birds is contagious, and her humorous descriptions of their habits may inspire readers to listen for a cardinal's "cheer, cheer, birdy-birdy-birdy" or a barn owl's "WHO cooks for YOU?" (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

"We will unravel the mystery of the disappearing songbirds by taking a journey with them." Ornithologist Stutchbury so begins her exploration of the causes for the decline of migratory songbirds in the tropics, the wintering area for many of North America's birds. Migrants fit themselves into the local fauna, joining flocks or defending feeding territories until time to wing north for breeding. As the reader follows the birds, Stutchbury introduces the hazards they must face: fragmentation of habitat, which can range from simple road cuts to complete deforestation; replacement of natural vegetation with agricultural fields, typically "deserts" for birds; the ongoing problems with pesticides; light pollution, glass windows, communication towers, wind turbines, and other obstacles; and, finally, predators and introduced parasites, which have their greatest effect on the breeding grounds. She discusses the rapid decline of many songbird species and strategies for saving them. Stutchbury's colloquial writing style, bolstered with frequent references to her own and other scientists' research, makes complex population and ecological science easy to understand for the lay reader. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Bridget Stutchbury has written a fascinating book about songbirds that reads like a gripping novel. I cannot over-emphasize how important this book for anyone who cares about birds and our environment. I could hardly put it down. Read this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars July 3 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Informative and funny at the same time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why we continue to lose large numbers of songbirds and what each of us can do to help reverse this alarming trend. Aug. 11 2007
By Paul Tognetti - Published on
I am always very grateful when an author presents his or her subject matter in concise and easy to understand language. I most certainly found this to be the case with "Silence of the Songbirds". Author Bridget Stutchbury, a professor of biology at York University in Toronto and a woman widely recognized as an international birding expert gives her readers plenty to ponder in her new book. If you are reading about this subject for the very first time then you could not have chosen a better book to get up to speed on these issues. And for those who have some familiarity with this topic "Silence of the Songbirds" provides lots of new and important information.

It seems that scientists have learned an awful lot about songbirds just in the past couple of decades. And what remarkable lives they lead! Innovative new technolgies have allowed scientists to tag and track birds in an effort to learn more about the breeding habits and migratory patterns of these magnificent creatures. "Silence of the Songbirds" explores the many obstacles and threats facing birds like the wood thrush, Eastern kingbirds and Kentucky warblers to name but a few. I simply had no idea of the scope of the problems that threaten the very existence of many of these species. And while the main problem continues to be a loss of habitat for these birds there are also a host of other threats that they must reckon with. Armed with well-researched facts and figures, Bridget Stansbury makes a compelling case that there will be serious long-term consequences not only to these birds but to our environment as well if we fail to deal with these problems in the near future.

Fortunately, Bridget Stutchbury offers a number of practical ways that each of one of us can help to make the world a more hospitable place for our fine feathered friends. But while the individual choices we make can be helpful it is really not enough. Write a letter to the editor and discuss these issues with family and friends. How we choose to utilize our land and other natural resources is a conversation that we really need to have in this country. In the meantime I strongly urge everyone to read "Silence of the Songbirds". This is an extremely well written book that deserves your time and attention. Highly recommended!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for all public and school libraries. July 27 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Author Bridget Stutchbury is a bird researcher and biology professor in Canada and here considers the current condition of songbirds and their habitats in a book which rivals SILENT SPRING for its message about endangered birds. From fragmentation of bird habitats to the idea that another 25 percent of bird species cold be extinct by the time our great grandchildren reach adulthood - added to the fact that the songbird population has already been halved over the last forty years, SILENCE OF THE SONGBIRDS is a wake-up call for any who would understand the dangers. Recommended for all public and school libraries.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informational and useful July 29 2009
By Juan Bahamon - Published on
This is an excellent book written by a very knowledgeable author, I enjoyed the engaging prose and the serious scientific facts presented in a very convincing way. I highly recommended to any birder or to anyone interested in nature.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bird Conservation Must Read March 7 2009
By Jeff Wells - Published on
A book full of fascinating stories that weave together Stutchbury's years of field experience and research with easy-to-understand explanations of the state of our understanding about bird ecology and behavior and how they interact with the issues impacting bird populations. I was taken-aback by the stats on pesticide use here and in Latin America and intrigued by the discussion of how fragmentation of habitat can change the behavioral and social fabric of bird species. I highly recommend it for all who care about birds, behavior, and the environment.

from [...]

Jeff Wells, author Birder's Conservation Handbook: 100 North American Birds at Risk
Birder's Conservation Handbook: 100 North American Birds at Risk
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book ! Jan. 7 2008
By Mark Pettey - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Purchased this for my wife, who is an Audubon Board member and leads a young birders group. She loved reading this !
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