The Birder's Bug Book

Overview

When the first birds appeared on earth about 150 million years ago, the insects were here to greet them. Inevitably the two groups came to exploit each other, and as the eons passed, they became increasingly enmeshed in a complex web of interrelationships--birds eating bugs, blood-sucking insects feeding on birds, parasitic insects infesting birds, and birds struggling to rid themselves of the parasites. In The Birder's Bug Book Gilbert Waldbauer, a veteran entomologist and an accomplished birdwatcher, describes ...

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Overview

When the first birds appeared on earth about 150 million years ago, the insects were here to greet them. Inevitably the two groups came to exploit each other, and as the eons passed, they became increasingly enmeshed in a complex web of interrelationships--birds eating bugs, blood-sucking insects feeding on birds, parasitic insects infesting birds, and birds struggling to rid themselves of the parasites. In The Birder's Bug Book Gilbert Waldbauer, a veteran entomologist and an accomplished birdwatcher, describes these and many other interactions between birds and insects. A beguiling blend of anecdote, ornithology, and entomology, rendered in the engaging style that has won over scientists and amateur naturalists alike, this book is an excellent introduction to the intricate interplay of insects and birds.

With the birds and the bees it's not so much sex as mutual exploitation. Most birds feed mainly on insects, taking them from the air, from vegetation, and from deep within wood. The insects fight back by camouflaging themselves or by mimicking insects that birds find unpalatable. Many insects suck blood from birds or infest them, lodging in their feathers and nests. The birds fight back by preening, by taking dust or water baths to discourage lice and other bugs, and even by rubbing themselves with ants, whose formic acid repels many insects.

As entertaining as it is informative, The Birder's Bug Book will appeal to all those interested in birds, bugs, and natural history. Profusely illustrated with drawings and color photographs, this book offers a cornucopia of facts about the life history and behavior of insects and birds.

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Editorial Reviews

Philadelphia Inquirer

Two of the basic tenets of modern evolutionary biology are that, within an ecosystem, each species fulfills a critical role and that when a species is perturbed or an addition is made to an ecosystem, the ecological ramifications will often be noticed rippling throughout the entire community...Exploring and expanding on these nested relationships are two of the things that Gilbert Waldbauer does so well in his engaging natural history...Waldbauer takes some of the least appreciated species in most ecosystems—insects—and eloquently discusses many of the roles they play...His book is accessible to anyone interested in natural history...What Waldbauer does best is transmit his respect and admiration—perhaps awe is not too strong a word—for the insects he has spent his life studying.
— Michael Zimmerman

Science News
Some insects mimic bird droppings to protect themselves from attack. Certain songbirds rub acid-filled ants over their feathers to deter external parasites. Such examples of the bird/bug relationship sprinkle Waldbauer's text as he describes the ways that each group adjusts and evolves through mutual exploitation. The final third of the book addresses the bugs that eat the birders and how humans combat such assaults.
Wisconsin Bluebird

The Birder's Bug Book provides a lot of information about bugs and about birds...The book has a small section of high-quality color plates, a good bibliography, and many fine black-and-white illustrations...[Waldbauer] presents a lot of information organized in a successful format that should appeal to birders of many persuasions.
— David Benson

Entomological News
This book is an interesting introduction to the many fascinating relationships between birds and insects. As past eons have come and gone, birds and insects have become increasingly enmeshed in a complex web of interrelationships: birds eating insects, bloodsucking insects feeding on birds, parasitic insects infesting birds, ad birds struggling to rid themselves of the parasites. In this book, the author describes these and many other interactions between birds an insects.
Entomologist's Monthly

[The Birder's Bug Book] aims to establish that birds are best understood in the light of their ecological contact and consequent association with plants, insects and other organisms...The whole book is well written and a fascinating read with charming illustrations. The last chapter especially could well be recommended as compulsory reading in all educational establishments.
— K. G. V. Smith

Booklist

[Waldbauer] introduces readers to the complex interplay of birds and insects, striving to be scientifically accurate yet using a variety of delightful anecdotes to make his points...The book is a must-read for anyone interested in natural history.
— George Cohen

Bookwatch
Birds and insects are involved in a complex web of relationships, and here veteran entomologist Waldbauer describes these relationships and interactions, blending ornithology, entomology and folktales in a lively style which will appeal to scientist and general readers alike. Any interested in natural history will find it appealing and involving.
Discover
One of our 'favorite book-writing naturalists.'
Bird Watcher's Digest
Anyone interested in insects and birds will enjoy this book and learn a great deal from it.
Illinois Natural History Survey

Highly readable. Waldbauer is the ideal author for this sort of book: An accomplished entomologist, a fine writer, and a fanatical birder.
— Scott K. Robinson

Choice

In this well-written book, Waldbauer...melds his vocational interest in insects with his avocational interest in birds...Besides the highly readable prose, there are dozens of detailed three-toned drawings and 16 pages of color plates...This book can be enjoyed by high school students and adult laypersons, as well as professional and amateur naturalists.
— H. N. Cunningham

Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine
This fascinating account of the long interrelationship between insects and birds and the short destructive intervention of man makes compelling reading.
Birdin

The Birder's Bug Books is an unusual yet highly engaging thinkpiece devoted to selected topics in natural history...Few readers are likely to come away from [Waldbauer's] book without acquiring significant new facts and perspectives. Natural history books designed for non-professionals often repeat a familiar nucleus of established lore, while many scientific books are so narrowly focused as to be inaccessible to non-expert readers.The Birder's Bug Book demonstrates that there is still much to be learned from the traditional naturalist's approach and that there is still a place for wide-ranging, articulately written, and thoughtful nature writing.
— Rich Cech

Bird Watcher's Digest Staff
Anyone interested in insects and birds will enjoy this book and learn a great deal from it.
Entomologist's Monthly Magazine
This fascinating account of the long interrelationship between insects and birds and the short destructive intervention of man makes compelling reading.
Philadelphia Inquirer - Michael Zimmerman
Two of the basic tenets of modern evolutionary biology are that, within an ecosystem, each species fulfills a critical role and that when a species is perturbed or an addition is made to an ecosystem, the ecological ramifications will often be noticed rippling throughout the entire community...Exploring and expanding on these nested relationships are two of the things that Gilbert Waldbauer does so well in his engaging natural history...Waldbauer takes some of the least appreciated species in most ecosystems--insects--and eloquently discusses many of the roles they play...His book is accessible to anyone interested in natural history...What Waldbauer does best is transmit his respect and admiration--perhaps awe is not too strong a word--for the insects he has spent his life studying.
Wisconsin Bluebird - David Benson
The Birder's Bug Book provides a lot of information about bugs and about birds...The book has a small section of high-quality color plates, a good bibliography, and many fine black-and-white illustrations...[Waldbauer] presents a lot of information organized in a successful format that should appeal to birders of many persuasions.
Entomologist's Monthly - K. G. V. Smith
[The Birder's Bug Book] aims to establish that birds are best understood in the light of their ecological contact and consequent association with plants, insects and other organisms...The whole book is well written and a fascinating read with charming illustrations. The last chapter especially could well be recommended as compulsory reading in all educational establishments.
Booklist - George Cohen
[Waldbauer] introduces readers to the complex interplay of birds and insects, striving to be scientifically accurate yet using a variety of delightful anecdotes to make his points...The book is a must-read for anyone interested in natural history.
Illinois Natural History Survey - Scott K. Robinson
Highly readable. Waldbauer is the ideal author for this sort of book: An accomplished entomologist, a fine writer, and a fanatical birder.
Choice - H. N. Cunningham
In this well-written book, Waldbauer...melds his vocational interest in insects with his avocational interest in birds...Besides the highly readable prose, there are dozens of detailed three-toned drawings and 16 pages of color plates...This book can be enjoyed by high school students and adult laypersons, as well as professional and amateur naturalists.
Pete Dunne
It would never have occurred to me to look at a book about bugs, whether they are associated with birds or not, but I've got to tell you, this book is fascinating.
Birdin - Rich Cech
The Birder's Bug Books is an unusual yet highly engaging thinkpiece devoted to selected topics in natural history...Few readers are likely to come away from [Waldbauer's] book without acquiring significant new facts and perspectives. Natural history books designed for non-professionals often repeat a familiar nucleus of established lore, while many scientific books are so narrowly focused as to be inaccessible to non-expert readers.The Birder's Bug Book demonstrates that there is still much to be learned from the traditional naturalist's approach and that there is still a place for wide-ranging, articulately written, and thoughtful nature writing.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Two of the basic tenets of modern evolutionary biology are that, within an ecosystem, each species fulfills a critical role and that when a species is perturbed or an addition is made to an ecosystem, the ecological ramifications will often be noticed rippling throughout the entire community...Exploring and expanding on these nested relationships are two of the things that Gilbert Waldbauer does so well in his engaging natural history...Waldbauer takes some of the least appreciated species in most ecosystems--insects--and eloquently discusses many of the roles they play...His book is accessible to anyone interested in natural history...What Waldbauer does best is transmit his respect and admiration--perhaps awe is not too strong a word--for the insects he has spent his life studying.
— Michael Zimmerman
Choice
In this well-written book, Waldbauer...melds his vocational interest in insects with his avocational interest in birds...Besides the highly readable prose, there are dozens of detailed three-toned drawings and 16 pages of color plates...This book can be enjoyed by high school students and adult laypersons, as well as professional and amateur naturalists.
— H. N. Cunningham
Booklist
[Waldbauer] introduces readers to the complex interplay of birds and insects, striving to be scientifically accurate yet using a variety of delightful anecdotes to make his points...The book is a must-read for anyone interested in natural history.
— George Cohen
Wisconsin Bluebird
The Birder's Bug Book provides a lot of information about bugs and about birds...The book has a small section of high-quality color plates, a good bibliography, and many fine black-and-white illustrations...[Waldbauer] presents a lot of information organized in a successful format that should appeal to birders of many persuasions.
— David Benson
Entomologist's Monthly
[The Birder's Bug Book] aims to establish that birds are best understood in the light of their ecological contact and consequent association with plants, insects and other organisms...The whole book is well written and a fascinating read with charming illustrations. The last chapter especially could well be recommended as compulsory reading in all educational establishments.
— K. G. V. Smith
Illinois Natural History Survey
Highly readable. Waldbauer is the ideal author for this sort of book: An accomplished entomologist, a fine writer, and a fanatical birder.
— Scott K. Robinson
Birdin
The Birder's Bug Books is an unusual yet highly engaging thinkpiece devoted to selected topics in natural history...Few readers are likely to come away from [Waldbauer's] book without acquiring significant new facts and perspectives. Natural history books designed for non-professionals often repeat a familiar nucleus of established lore, while many scientific books are so narrowly focused as to be inaccessible to non-expert readers.The Birder's Bug Book demonstrates that there is still much to be learned from the traditional naturalist's approach and that there is still a place for wide-ranging, articulately written, and thoughtful nature writing.
— Rich Cech
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Insects and their kin--spiders, mites, lice--have had a 150-million-year association with birds, notes Waldbauer Insects Through the Seasons, an entomologist and birder, and they have had a profound effect on one another's evolutionary path. Birds have evolved strategies for capturing insects while insects have evolved ways to protect themselves from birds. Waldbauer gives a lucid, engaging account of mutual exploitation in a complex ecosystem while evincing a sneaking admiration for bugs. He describes birds whose "profession" is to eat insects; "choosy" blood-sucking insects that feed on only certain birds; parasites living on birds; and the birds' efforts to get rid of them. Also detailed are species of ants and spiders that eat nestlings. Birds attack parasitic insects by anting rubbing ants over their bodies, dust-bathing and preening; some species even bring aromatic leaves to their nest. Others enlist the support of bees and wasps by building their nests near those insects' habitats for protection against predators. Because this is a birder's book, Waldbauer devotes a chapter to bugs that eat people--mosquitoes, ants, horseflies, ticks, fleas--and our methods of trying to control them. But this informative work is not just for birders; any student of natural history will find it illuminating. 35 color illustrations, not seen by PW. Sept.
Library Journal
This unique title focuses on the relationships and impact among birds, "bugs," and people. Drawing on a rich array of scientific resources, including his own career, and on anecdotes, Waldbauer gives an entertaining summary of these complex interactions, which dynamically affect human and ecological health. An emeritus professor of entomology, he is also a birder by avocation and author of Insects Through the Seasons LJ 3/15/96. Some chapters portray "Bugs That Birds Eat," "Bugs That Eat Birds," "Bugs That Eat People," etc.; others offer lively essays on flying insects, a brief guide to insects, and an excellent discourse, "Disappearing Diversity," which should be required reading for anyone interested in extinction, rain forests, or biodiversity. Highly recommended for larger collections.--Henry T. Armistead, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674002067
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,452,841
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 8.63 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Gilbert Waldbauer is Professor Emeritus of Entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Bugs and Birds through the Ages

The Only Flying Invertebrates

Bugs That Birds Eat

The Bugs Fight Back

Bugs That Eat Birds

The Birds Fight Back

Bugs That Eat People

People Fight Back

A Brief Guide to the Insects

Disappearing Diversity

Selected Readings

Acknowledgment

Index

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