Intellectual Snobbery Is for the Birds
How Birdkeepers and Bullfinch Sperm Taught an Ornithologist Something New About Evolution
Birdkeepers are almost universally scorned by anyone else interested in birds. Biologists and birdwatchers alike are generally opposed to the idea of birds being kept in captivity. But during a lifetime of admiring and studying birds, birdkeepers have helped me push the field forward and taught me something along the way: Sometimes seemingly irreconcilable worlds can collide, with wonderful results.
Some estimates suggest that during the 19th century, every second household in Britain raised “cage birds.” In an era before radio, TV, or social media, the creatures provided company, entertainment, and …