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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


How Birds Help Our Gardens: Ohio Classic Available for Preorder

May 13, 2009

WOOSTER, Ohio € Red Bird, Green Bird: How Birds Help Us Grow Healthy Gardens€ a retitled, completely reset edition of the 1912 classic Some Ohio Birds by Harry A. Gossard and Scott G. Harry€ is available for preorder from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).


It details the ecological and economic impacts of 91 common species € the insect pests and weed seeds they eat, the good they do farmers and gardeners, how we can help them, and more€ and describes their abundance nearly 100 years ago.

It should interest both birdwatchers and farmers and gardeners, especially organic ones.

The Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES) (now OARDC), which Gossard and Harry worked for at the time, published the original version.

The new edition has 92 pages, is six by nine inches in size, and will be officially released June 15.

Preorder by June 8 at $12 per copy, a $2 savings that includes free shipping. Write to CommTech, OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691. Make checks payable to OARDC. Expect delivery by June 22.

Call (330) 263-3780 or e-mail for more information.

See the cover, table of contents, editors note and excerpts at

“The place of birds in nature is entirely unique Gossard and Harry write. “Each species performs a service which no other can so well accomplish; each is structurally modified for the particular work nature demands of it.

“A country without birds, they note, “would become a desolate waste, unable to support life.

The chapters (also retitled) and their sections:

Green Land, Green Backs: How Birds Affect Us, How We Affect Birds: the balance in nature; the destruction of forests; as destroyers of insects; their planting of seeds; as destroyers of rodents and noxious animals; as destroyers of weed seeds; as consumers of grain, valuable insects, fruits, buds, eggs and young of other birds.

“More Birds, More Green: How to Attract Birds and Help Them Thrive: water, seed and suet; winter cleanup; planting trees and shrubs for food; planting shelter belts for winter; nesting boxes and devices; drinking fountains and baths; protection from enemies; bird legislation; Audubon societies.

Birds in Ohio in 1912: Their Economic and Ecological Characteristics: 31 groups of birds  including the wrens, thrushes, swallows, flycatchers, chickadees, woodpeckers, waterfowl, hawks and eagles, sparrows and finches, and blackbirds and their relatives € and accounts of 91 species, such as the eastern bluebird, northern cardinal, eastern meadowlark, American robin, American kestrel and ruby-throated hummingbird.

The account of the eastern bluebird, for example, includes the following description of its diet:

“Seventy-six percent consists of insects and other small animal forms; 24 percent is of vegetable substances, taken mostly in winter. Of the whole food, beetles constitute 28 percent, grasshoppers 22 percent and caterpillars 11 percent. Its only offense is the eating of a few beneficial beetles, amounting to 8 percent of its food for the entire year.

“Their mode of locomotion, together with their structural fitness for their natural functions, make birds a very important economic factor in the animal kingdom the authors write, “especially from the standpoint of their usefulness to man.

Ohio State University Extension is the co-publisher.

OARDC ( and OSU Extension ( are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio States College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

They teamed up in 1999 to publish When Passenger Pigeons Flew in the Killbuck Valley: The Birds of Wayne County, Ohio, 1896, a reset, retitled edition of a century-old OAES report by a then-young Harry C. Oberholser, who went on to a stellar career in ornithology.

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Kurt Knebusch