Pecking order

Contribution of early bird breeders to ornithology

source: Tim Radford Guardian
August 23 2002 p9

Tim Birkhead, an animal behaviour professor from Sheffield University, England, has been awarded a three-year grant by the Leverhulme Trust to study the contribution of early European bird breeders to ornithology. This topic has tended to be neglected in the UK, since attitudes to keeping birds tend to be negative, yet contributions from amateur breeders have been very important for conservation and breeding programmes to help endangered species such as many parrots. Goldfinches were especially valued during the Middle Ages, and chaffinches were popular cage birds. Birds were caught in the Middle Ages because they looked good, sang well, or were good to eat, Birkhead notes.