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Birds, Scythes and Combines


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Table of Contents

Introduction; Acknowledgements; 1. The agricultural background; 2. The farmland birds; 3. Arable farming systems: high farming and before; 4. Enclosure; 5. Some thoughts on hedges; 6. Drainage; 7. Weeds, weeding and pesticides; 8. Arable farming systems: after 1945; 9. Grassland and stock; 10. Winter food resources; 11. Labour, machines and buildings; 12. Exploitation; 13. Conclusions; Appendix 1; Appendix 2; Bibliography and references; Index.

Promotional Information

First published in 2003, this book accounts the impact of changes in farming methods on the bird populations of British farmland over the past 250 years.

About the Author

Michael Shrubb is a retired farmer with a lifelong interest in birds which he has been studying since the late 1950s.


'... a fascinating and timely book ... Michael Shrubb ... has a virtually unrivalled knowledge of his subject ...'. British Trust for Ornithology '... both a pleasure and a sorrow to read ... the author is to be congratulated on putting forward some interesting ideas ... Where this book really wins is that it is written by an 'ornithological farmer' who has seen at first hand the effects that the dramatic changes in agricultural practices have had on wildlife in the second half of the last century'. Ibis 'Michael Shrubb has done all the hard work of trawling through the literature and has produced a book that is comprehensive and highly readable ... Birds, Scythes and Combines will provide a valuable reference.' British Wildlife 'A fascinating study.' Scientific and Medical Network Review 'The author is a farmer with an extensive knowledge of birds and conservation. He not only provides an excellent account of the past and present status of our farmland birds, but describes the history of farming and rural land use in Britain. Birds, Scythes and Combines is thus an important social as well as ecological document.' Birdwatch '... we should all read this book and take stock of what is happening in the fields around us.' Sherkin Comment '... provides the most comprehensive review of the relationship between British farming and birds yet written ... mass of interesting historical and contemporary detail ... eminently readable'. The Agricultural History Review

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