Monday, October 17, 2011

"Bird-keeping and Birdcages: A History" Sonia Roberts

A quaint little book, “Bird-keeping and Birdcages: A History” was published in 1972, and is probably more interesting for its black and white illustrations and photos than for its historical research. Excluding the first chapter which deals with “The Ancient World” and travels from biblical times to the medieval age in about five pages and the second “Renaissance Exoticism and After” which has some titbit information on western European countries, Sonia Roberts' book mainly deals with British history and the rise of its bird fancy - and is more assured of its facts when it does so -, especially concerning small species such as canaries and, later, budgies.The rest of the world and its “simple societies” are taken care of with a mention on the first page.

However, this book provides a series of interesting vignettes on bird-keeping from Ancient Egypt to our days and is the only book I know of that also addresses the evolution of bird-cages and aviaries and understands that they can be important cultural and artistic objects on their own.

I do wish someone would write a revised and updated version of this History, taking into account archaeological and documentary evidence from the last forty years. After all, I feel Roberts makes an interesting point when she states: “it is reasonable to claim that caged birds were man’s first true pets, for although the dog and cat predate the cage bird as companions of man, they were originally co-opted as assistants in hunting and vermin control respectively”.
Are you there Tim Birkhead, Marina Belozerskaya and Louise Robbins?


Neal said...

The BIGGER the cage the better for any bird type, however, the smaller the bird the closer the bars need to be. Finches need to have 1/4″ to 1/2″ between each bar. The larger parrots need to have stronger bars that are about 1″ to 1.5″. Most bird cages come with a wire grate for the bottom of the cage.

Anonymous said...

great review!! excellent info. i now know what the book covers, what its strengths and weaknesses are. is it true that this is the only source of its type on bird cage history?