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The Birds at My Table: Why We Feed Wild Birds and Why It Matters

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Darryl Jones is fascinated by bird feeders. Not the containers supplying food to our winged friends, but the people who fill the containers.

Why do people do this? Jones asks in The Birds at My Table. Does the food even benefit the birds? What are the unintended consequences of providing additional food to our winged friends?

Jones takes us on a wild flight through the histo
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 15th 2018 by Comstock Publishing
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Clare O'Beara
Over a million tons of seed are sold globally each year to feed wild birds, much of it grown in Africa and India, the author tells us. His own bird table is near Brisbane, Australia, but birds are fed in many countries. He explains that planting shrubs to provide sufficient nectar instead, just attracts aggressive honey eating noisy miners, which chase off all smaller birds, much as magpies here in Ireland are a terror. Then he describes his rainbow lorikeets, which eat seeds and pollen, and Aus ...more
Margaret Sankey
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jones, an Australian, looks at the effects of humans feeding wild birds--with the caveat that it is easy to guess many of the second and third order effects, but given the nature of private feeding on private property, near impossible to measure. Feeding most certainly has advantaged aggressive, risk-taking birds willing to be close to dogs, humans and cats for a steady food supply, feeders change migration patterns and timing, contact with wild birds seems to make people more receptive to envir ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Thank you to NetGalley for a free e-copy of this book in exchange for a review.

This was a great read.

In this book, Darryl Jones discusses bird feeding practices all around the world. His observations and anecdotes are substantiated with research and studies. Sometimes the studies are a bit much, but there is a lot of interesting facts in there, so it's worth persevering through the more academic parts of the book. The anecdotes, however, are fascinating. I loved the story about a lady who decid
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
A nonfiction book about the science and research behind those little feeders many of us hang up in our backyards or apartment fire escapes. From the cover and blurb, I'd expected a light, breezy read, but The Birds at My Table is instead a quite academic review of the various studies that have analyzed how and why humans feed birds, the effect of all this free seed on the birds themselves, and the history of bird-feeding as an organized hobby and (these days) enormous commercial industry. Someti ...more
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was filled with information on Why we feed birds, how we feed them, and should we feed them.
He brings up the subject of should we feed only in cold months, or after big storms, when the birds life gets disrupted, or continue doing it year round.
It was interesting to hear about the birds that exist in different countries and areas of those countries, and whether it would be better to plant, plants to feed the wildlife or to feed seed, as a supplemental food and if so what types.
I foun
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book took me a while to get through, but for good reason. It is dense with information, absolutely packed with a thorough breakdown of every study that has been done on feeding wild birds and the way that it affects their development and place in the world. The ultimately disappointing fact about all of these studies is that... well, there aren't very many of them. Darryl Jones brings to the forefront the fact that although we've been feeding birds for about as long as we have existed as a ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for allowing me to read and review this book.
The Birds at My Table by Darryl Jones is filled with information the author has gathered about why people enjoy to feed and watch the birds that come to their backyard feeders. His research spans the globe and I especially enjoyed reading of his visits at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I participate in the project FeederWatch and so I could hardly wait to read this book!
There is very interesting history on th
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
A much more detailed book than the Guide for Australian bird feeding and possibly aimed at a more academic reader than the back yard bird lover. I admit I scanned rather than read each word.
Gleaned information but a bit detailed for my needs
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Easy to read and those pages just kept turning. I just wish there was more on Australian birds and birdfeeding; it's extremely UK and US-centric, with just small gems of Australia shining through. A little sad considering the writer is Australian.
Nikki Balzer
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get into this book but once i did it was fascinating. Can't wait to read the sequel.
Kim Cabrera
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why do we enjoy feeding birds? What motivates us to put out food for our feathered friends? Where did this practice originate? Are we really helping the birds by feeding them? These and more questions are explored in the book, “The Birds at my Table” by Darryl Jones.

Jones takes the reader on a search for the answers to these and more questions. Along the way, we visit several continents and meet some of the players in the history of bird feeding. The author looks at the historical origins of bi
A gentle and well-meaning mess of a book, about the history, politics, and science of feeding the birds (tuppance a bag.) The author seems to be trying to straddle several potential genres for his book here: an entry-level academic-ish monograph, a pop-history, a pop-science, and naturalist memoir, but unfortunately doesn't totally hit it off for me in any of the categories, as someone who happily reads any of the four. It's published by Cornell so I automatically stereotyped it as academic, but ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
It seems like such a simple thing, feeding the birds. Beyond the casual tossing of leftover picnic crumbs to the ducks, Professor Darryl Jones looks at those who are more deliberate -- those who maintain backyard bird feeders. He wonders whether the regular feeding of birds has an effect and what kind of effect, on both the birds and the humans who feed them.

While he does some original research, for the most part he collects and analyzes the studies that have been done. Those studies have been a
Pankaj Goyal
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a brilliantly written tale of wild bird feeding. You not only get to know a number of interesting facts related to wild bird feeding, but also an enormous amount of useful information about the same. Some of the implications of the wild bird feeding (discussed in this book) will shake your thinking cap really hard. According to Darryl Jones, wild bird feeding is not a simple issue. On the other hand, it is a complex one as feeding wild birds means different to different people. This ...more
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love feeding the birds (and deer and whatever else happens to wander in to share a meal!) all my neighbors do, too! I enjoyed reading this book, even it based in Australia! It's nice to know folks there feed their critters, too! I liked the idea of finding a kindred spirit half a world away from me! But the author does cover the global interest in feeding birds in other countries, which I enjoyed reading about! I was interested in reading about the negative effects of feeding the birds and the ...more
Amanda Witt
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great read, discussing why people choose to feed what are essentially wild birds in the garden and giving examples from Australia, NZ, UK and USA of different endangered birds and studies that have been done.
Juliet Wilson
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Subtitled Why We Feed Wild Birds and Why it Matters, this is a fascinating look into the habits of people who feed birds around the world, but concentrating on UK, USA and Australia.

The author travels widely around the world to investigate the history of feeding birds across the world, how feeding birds affects their populations and distribution, how feeding can have the unfortunate side effect of helping spread diseases among bird populations and how on the other hand feeding birds can be a ve
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
* I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. *

Ecologist Darryl Jones poses some basic questions in this book on the esoteric subject of bird-feeding:

1. Why do people feel the need to feed wild birds?
2. What techniques and food do people use?
3. and, is doing this a good idea at all?

The concept of feeding birds, while it goes back a long way, is quite controversial. In Australia there are very strong beliefs that humans should not offer food
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-net-galley
The Birds at My Table is not a facile book. It isn't filled with pretty pictures or simple ideas about feeding the birds. It asks hard questions about how, what, and when to feed birds, and even questions whether we should be feeding the birds at all. As Jones points out, feeding birds is probably the most common encounter that people have with wildlife. But how can we be sure that our feeding the birds actually benefits the birds? Are we feeding foods that are truly nutritious? Do our feeding s ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bottom line, humans have been "helping" out birds forever, all over the world. Reality, most of the time, the bird feeding is for our own pleasure, to bring some wildlife closer for our observation. Sure, in the winter we like to believe we're helping them but they'd probably do just fine without filled feeders (I have 4 seed, a platform, a hopper and 5 suet feeders) for easier food access. I enjoy seeing who comes to visit. Sometimes there are even surprises! Feeding the birds helps people stay ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Feeder station at our place attracts a variety of wild and native birds. It’s become an addiction and an main stay in the grocery shop. Seed, seed bells, diced meat, nectar powder.
The birds at my table was a great read and just strengthens my commitment to continue to feed and now regular clean feeders.
J Bradley
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Too many studies, theories and history; too much data and technical details; not enough practical info or fun. Best for readers with a scientific interest in backyard bird behavior. I started out reading it, switched to skimming it to get through it for conclusions.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a study of worldwide bird feeding.
My takeaway is that I will continue to feed birds year round. I will provide good quality seed and keep my feeders clean. It is interesting to consider why we feed birds and how we must consider the impact.
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
281 pages

Very interesting!
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very intense book on the whys and hows of feeding birds.
Cherry London
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A well written educative and informative book that bird lovers and even some biologist would fall in love with, it brings to light their daily routines, tells of the encroachment of man on their habitat and their rehabilitation. This book goes into details about the various types of birds, their environment, and feeding patterns, it enlightens about the fast and damaging changes to their existence. It is interesting and filled with a wealth of information about birds, it is truly a bird lover's ...more
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Kenneth Mamitsuka
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Apr 27, 2019
Patricia Massarotto
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Mar 19, 2019
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