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The Birder’s Bug Book

The Birder’s Bug Book

Gilbert Waldbauer

ISBN 9780674002067

Publication date: 04/07/2000

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.


  • 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, Philadelphia Inquirer


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

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 6-3/16 x 8-11/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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