Cover: The Birder’s Bug Book, from Harvard University PressCover: The Birder’s Bug Book in PAPERBACK

The Birder’s Bug Book

Product Details


$20.00 • £17.95 • €18.95

ISBN 9780674002067

Publication Date: 04/07/2000


320 pages

38 color illustrations, 66 line illustrations


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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, The Philadelphia Inquirer

[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, Booklist

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.Bookwatch

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, Choice

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… 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.—Henry T. Arminstead, Library Journal

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… This informative work is not just for birders; any student of natural history will find it illuminating.Publishers Weekly

Anyone interested in insects and birds will enjoy this book and learn a great deal from it.Bird Watcher’s Digest

The Birder’s Bug Book 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, Birding

One of our ‘favorite book-writing naturalists.’Discover

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.Entomological News

[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, Entomologist’s Monthly

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, Illinois Natural History Survey

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.Science News

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, Wisconsin Bluebird

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

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.—Pete Dunne, New Jersey Audubon Society

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