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Feeding Wild Birds in America: Culture, Commerce and Conservation

Bird enthusiasts will be tickled at holiday gifts of Feeding Wild Birds in America ($27.95). You, however, may have to endure their know-it-all-ness — unless you checkmate them by buying yourself a copy in self-defense.
    The 320-page flexbound is a cornucopia of knowledge. Fourteen chapters chronicle our evolving cultural history vis-à-vis birds over the last century and a half. Especially useful and entertaining is the history of home-cooked recipes for bird food, including some that will be fun to try. While learning about advocates and entrepreneurs of birds and birding — including President Theodore Roosevelt — you’ll also learn a good deal of American cultural history.
    Seventy-six color and three black-and-white photos, plus three maps and two tables, make the book as attractive as it is informative. Along with the expected pretty birds are ephemera of birding: replicas of cartoons, posters and ads that make the history come to life. Another treat are feature sections printed on colored paper. They’re a narrative as well as a visual delight at breaking up white pages with color and break history with novel stories such as Squirrel Battles and Hemp, the Devil’s Birdseed.
    Barker, the author of this week’s feature story, is a Chesapeake neighbor, making her home in Shady Side.
    Meet Barker at these book signings: Friday, Nov. 27, 10am-1pm, Wild Bird Center of Annapolis; Thursday, December 10, 8:30-11pm, Annapolis Bookstore.