December 26, 2001


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.  John B. Dunning Jr. has turned his teenage hobby into
an adult profession, consulting on birding issues across the nation and now
contributing to a best-selling book.

The Purdue University forestry and natural resources assistant professor
recently co-edited the "Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior" (Knopf; $35)
with author and illustrator David Allen Sibley. The book has five
introductory chapters reviewing basic bird biology, behavior, feeding and
conservation issues. The rest of the book provides specialized information
with illustrations of 80 North American bird families, covering 700 species.

Dunning says the focus on conservation is part of what makes this effort
different from other bird books. Each bird family's chapter has a section on

For example, he says, "Blue jays are associated with woodland edges.
Urbanization has increased the number of wooded edges and increased the
number of blue jays, which rob nests and prey on other species."

Species that traditionally nest deep in forests are being forced to nest
closer to the woods' edges because urbanization decreases the amount of
large forests, Dunning says.

"Because deep forest species never lived near predatory birds like blue
jays, they are vulnerable and not adapted to blue jays' predatory tactics."

These birds don't hide or camouflage their nests the way an adapted species
would, so they "suffer population decline as urbanization increases."

Dunning says the book allows people to expand their interests beyond
traditional bird identification.

"People get interested in birds to identify them," he says, "but they see
birds doing all sorts of things: using colors, signals and sounds. This book
explains these behaviors. For example, the book goes into how gulls eat
rather than simply stating what they eat."

Experienced birders should enjoy the book because of the large amount of
information, and new birders find the text easy to use, Dunning says.

"Birding accommodates all levels of interest. Some people travel thousands
of miles around the world to watch birds, while others can participate from
their back yard."

Writer: Theresa Lawton, (765) 494-8402 or (765) 494-2722,

Source: John Dunning Jr., (765) 494-3565, home: (765) 538-2214,

Jeanne Norberg, Director, Purdue News Service
(765) 494-2084; [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Pager: 423-8662; Home: 449-4986
Fax: (765) 494-0401
Beth Forbes, Ag News Coordinator
Ag Communications Service
(765) 494-2722
Fax: (765) 496-1117

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