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Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife
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Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  189 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Even as growing cities and towns pave acres of landscape, some bird species have adapted and thrived. How has this come about?

Welcome to Subirdia presents a surprising discovery: the suburbs of many large cities support incredible biological diversity. Populations and communities of a great variety of birds, as well as other creatures, are adapting to the conditions of our
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Yale University Press (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  189 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Focused on the homeowners, architects, and city planners who are most likely to be able to implement the changes recommended. The book is large and heavy for its content, which surely isn't a 'green' choice on that level. But if enough people read it and subsequently keep their cats indoors, choose the right night lighting, leave some dead trees, snags, brush piles, and understory available, and stop getting uptight about coyotes, dandelions, and snakes, the cost of making the book appealing wil ...more
written by famous author of crow/raven research, written for all natural historians on your block, about birds and animals that live in humans' towns and cities, and suburbia, whatever you might want to consider "that' place it. so first, consider this, as a frame for this topic: usa has 2% of their land in industrial (usually imported varieties of grass, in monochromatic plantings, need constant care, mowing, petrol-chemicals, and water to "look good) lawn, and we spill , SPILL, 17 million gall ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it liked it
On pages 101--102 the author describes Brewer's blackbirds waiting for Costco to open. It reminded me of the gulls at Wrigley Field that always seemed to arrive around the 8th inning, waiting their turn for all the discarded food.
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Welcome to Subirdia" is a fantastic and informative book about bird populations and their sustainability. The author, John Marzluff, is a wildlife scientist and ornithologist living in Seattle. He and students working with him study various populations of birds in the area and the habitats in which they live. Birds are divided into three categories, depending on their adaptability--avoiders (i.e. wood thrushes, warblers), adapters (i.e. robins, cardinals), and exploiters (i.e.pigeons, song spar ...more
Now that is what I call a GOODREAD!

What I expected: tips on how to make your backyard a haven for birds.
What I got? So much more!

Like, there is actual research being done on birds in suburbia. Some lineages may even be speciating thanks to humans.

If you are at all tuned into conservationist ideas, you know that human development ain't so great for nature. And, suburbia in particular, could be characterized as a kind of blight. Unless you are a bird...

Well, ok there are certainly many birds who
Nov 03, 2015 rated it liked it
"Find the feeder and avoid the feline" is John M. Marzluff's advice to birds, and mostly sums up this book. He thoroughly describes how birds adapt or not to suburban and urban development. I was surprised to learn that the picture is far from bleak--"subirdia" supports a great diversity of bird life, all over the globe. Unfortunately, so many cities and suburbs are starting to lose their distinct geographical distinctions and look like everywhere else-ville, which is reflected in some of the bi ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Homo sapiens may be in the process of royally screwing up Mother Earth, but many species birds - who evolutionarily speaking kick the asses of humans - are busily adapting and changing to keep up with us terrible Joneses. Marzluff details how, where, and why some birds are succeeding in our industrial parks, golf courses and landscaping, while other birds are floundering amidst our houses and noise pollution and star-less skies. He ends his book with a set of new ten commandments on how to be go ...more
University of Washington Professor of Wildlife Science John Marzluff has become a leading interpreter of the secret lives of birds (especially corvids) through his books In the Company of Crows and Ravens and Gifts of the Crow. In his latest, Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers and Other Wildlife, he looks toward one of the more common human habitats in North America—suburban sprawl—and finds it to be more teeming with diverse plant, insect, animal and ...more
Ryan Mishap
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it
A fairly comprehensive look at how the edges of human cities are changing not only habitats and which species inhabit them, but bird evolution, behavior, and interactions. The results of human encroachment aren't all bad nor particularly beneficial. The illustrations are a nice touch, even if the choices of what to highlight--a dead robin, for instance, are sometimes curious.

Speaking of evolution--this book also provides what could be called an introductory primer on social evolution, cultural e
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In this heavily developed world, as Marzluff points out,remarkably many birds continue to thrive. In addition to sharing research data on bird adaptations to urban environs from a variety of cities, including Seattle, Marzluff clearly lays out "9 commandments"for being good neighbors to birds and other wildlife. These provide tangible ways that we can all contribute to maintaining a more biologically diverse,stable world. This is an important book that will positively influence landscape designs ...more
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Very informative. Gorgeous illustrations. While this book has more of a textbook feel, it should appeal to avid bird watchers as well as those showing an interest in ornithology.
Pamela Okano
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, birds
Interesting book about birds primarily and other animals and their relationship to human settlements. The author points out that some species do quite well with humans nearby and that biological evolution can occur quite quickly, relatively speaking, as demonstrated by the physical differences that already manifest themselves between birds in cities and towns versus the same species out in the wild. Cultural evolution happens even more quickly as birds adapt themselves to human settlements. The ...more
Norma J. Engelberg

Marzluff introduces readers to the diversity that suburban and urban areas can provide to birds that avoid, adapt to or even exploit the environments we build.
His and a variety of other scientists, students and citizen scientists are observing, counting, banding and tracking birds, showing that while a few species are being pushed out of our cities, overall diversity is increasing. An entire section of the book offers many simple and a few not so simple steps we can take to preserve and
Christy Esmahan
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great explanation of how humans and birds (and other animals) cohabitate in the suburbs. It gave me hope to read this and see that there are lots of birds benefiting from our interactions, not just being harmed. Definitely recommend this book!
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the first half of this book which discussed the bird life that lives in our suburban and urban landscapes but found the second half (which was policy prescriptive) rather tedious and repetitive. It is an interesting read for any backyard birdwatcher... but perhaps skip the last chapters.
Wendy Kendall
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
The weekend of February 12th, will be the Great Backyard Bird Count. Every year Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world. This book is a wonderful complement to that coming attraction. Its a ...more
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Most people have heard stories about how wildlife has been negatively affected by deforestation and people taking over natural habitats. For example, seventy five percent of 125 or so native Hawaiian birds present 4000 years ago when human first colonized the islands are now extinct. WELCOME TO SUBIRDIA provides a great deal of information about the effects of human activity on wildlife, particularly birds, as they move into previously natural environments. The changes are not all negative, but ...more
DelAnne Frazee
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Title: Welcome to Subirdia Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife
Author: John M Marzluff
Illustrator: Jack DeLap
Publisher: Yale Universty Press
Published: 9-30-2014
ISBN: 9780300197075
Pages: 320
Genre: Outdoors & Nature
Tags: Birds
Overall Rating: Excellent
Reviewed For: NetGalley
Reviewer: DelAnne

There is a saying that nature always finds away. From frogs in changing sex in the Amazon when there is an imbalance. To the crows nesting and living at Urban a
Clare O'Beara
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book mainly focuses on mainland America but also looks at Britain and Hawaii. We see that bird species have had to cope with the spread of urban habitats and some have thrived while others have been lost or reduced.

Species are categorised as avoiders, adapters or exploiters of urban habitats. The author lists nine ways to make our home areas more attractive and helpful to birds. These include putting up nest boxes, adding stickers or blinds to high windows and planting berry bushes in the
Sylvia Walker
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an informative and hopeful book, about welcoming birds into our urban environments. Thirteen years of exhaustive and painstaking study by teams of 8 or 10, the author tells us, went into this book and its recommendations, about how and why birds and other wildlife adapt to our suburbs...or don't. There are the exploiters, who love us, or at least our lawns, the adapters, who find ways to make do, and the avoiders, who just can't thrive amongst us. The author tells ways we can make our sp ...more
John Geary
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very well written, informative book. It provides a blueprint for future urban planning that could provide hope for us in the future with respect to the environment and climate change. I learned things about the birds that I watch in my own yard and got some other ideas about how to enhance that and make our yard even better for birds and wildlife in the city.
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
As the title suggests, this book includes a great deal of information on how specific species adapt to, or are hindered by life within human communities. Including—but not limited to—topics such as ecology, conservation and evolution, the text details the impact of our modern lifestyle on the health and welfare the bird population. Written in a straight-forward easy to understand style, the book comes across as half textbook, half auto-biographical.

The one minor issue I had was that the book ca
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
As an urban ornithologist myself, I was thrilled to receive this book. Marzluff is clearly a talented and passionate ornithologist, but to my great pleasure, also a strong writer with a unique voice. I never thought suburban ecology could be so readable!

The stunning illustrations are the icing on the cake. I read Subirdia as an ebook, but would have loved to have seen the illustrations in their full glory in print.

Highly recommended for bird-nerds (I include myself), urban planners, and anyone w
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a delightful read, upbeat and informative. Marzluff not only gives us a clear sighted view of the state of bird and mammal populations in the face of unending construction around our cities, but also offers expert advice on how to increase the diversity, and health of those populations. It is much more optimistic than I had considered such a study could be, but we need to take Marzluff's advice seriously. There is just too much at risk to ignore the impact that we're having on nature.
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Smart, lively, and eminently readable. Marzluff's explications of his research are rich and clear, and I especially appreciated his obvious affection and respect for his students and colleagues--this is a terrific illustration of the incremental, collaborative nature of science and also a good primer on basic ecological/evolutionary ideas.

Read in a tent, though the soundtrack was rainsong, not birdsong!
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: environment, science
I'd give this a 2.5 if I could. I loved the illustrations and I valued the message of the book, but I found the book very, very difficult to get into as a lay person. It was like reading 100 orinthology journal articles in a row - I just don't have the background for it. I found Lyanda Lynn Haupt's Urban Bestiary to be a much more approachable and enjoyable read - giving me similar kinds of information, but in a simpler and more lay person friendly way.
Joan Colby
Oct 06, 2015 rated it liked it
A rather dry and academic study of birds. Marzluff makes the distinction between adapters and avoiders, the latter generally being endangered. He cites the common birds that inhabit urban and suburban areas which are often more welcoming than the vast agricultural lands. Several times, he points out the depredation that cats make on birds, killing far more than anything else.
May 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
Illustrations, while obviously digital and by Illustrator, are excellent. Prose is wordy & dull. Marzluff is far too narcissistic to offer much on birds and suburban life and realizing that, halfway through the book he turns to the urban scavenger group like deer, bear etc. Unfortunately this book is a waste of time. ...more
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-sciences
An exploration of what types of bird thrive in urban and suburban environments, how to create better environments for a wider diversity of birds and other wildlife, Marzluff often presents surprising facts and findings.
First Chapters address birds in urban environment although details are fragmentary and leave you wanting more explicit details. Narrative devolves into rather wandering general urban conversation advocacy not specific to birds, bird habitat,etc
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John Marzluff is assistant professor of wildlife science in the Ecosystem Science and Conservation Division at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the author of Dog Days, Raven Nights, Urban Ecology, and In the Company of Crows and Ravens.

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