Encyclopaedia of Birdcare
HistoryAlthough there is evidence that people were offering food to wild birds many centuries ago, it was not until the 19th century when the idea of enjoying birds simply for pleasure first emerged, that bird feeding became a normal custom. The pioneer of the feeding of garden birds was probably the German nobleman Baron von Berlepsch in the 188Os, when he used feeding devices and nest boxes to encourage birds, although part of his purpose was the supposed control of insect pests. Among his methods was to pour fat on to the twigs of trees. During the twentieth century the concept of bird tables was developed, and by the 1950ís peanuts and other foods were being hung up for tits. Modern feeders began to appear with the ground- breaking introduction of the A6 type by the American firm Droll Yankees Inc. in 1969, and materials other than the traditional wood, namely metal, plastic and woodcrete, also appeared on the scene. Nowadays huge numbers of enthusiasts in many countries feed birds in gardens and elsewhere, supplied with a range of equipment and foods for birds by specialised companies which make full use of scientific research and practical experience in developing their products.
Present dayThere are two basic ways of providing foods for birds:
- Encouraging the production and availability of natural foods, for example by choosing suitable plants, leaving wild areas, avoiding the use of pesticides and opening up the soil (see gardening for birds).
- Artificially supplying food.
Apart from the traditional kitchen scraps, there are many suitable and commonly offered foods for birds, and a complete range of devices for dispensing them, notably feeders, seed trays and bird tables. Specialised suppliers, such as Jacobi Jayne & Company, market all kinds of feeding equipment, foods and accessories, and with the use of efficient mail order facilities are accessible to everyone. One of the best ways of discovering what is available and how to use it is to read one of the catalogues produced by such firms.
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