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Silence of the Songbirds: How We Are Losing the World's Songbirds and What We Can Do to Save Them Hardcover – May 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802716091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802716095
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Wells on March 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Juan Bahamon on July 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Pettey on January 7, 2008
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Craig R. Kern on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an incredibly insightful reveal on how our lifestyle is creating havoc for our songbirds. Should be required reading in all schools and for anyone concerned with our environment.
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