Conservationist Aldo Leopold gave a series of talks in the 1930s on WHA. Unfortunately, we don’t have the recordings but we do have the transcripts. UW professor emeritus Stan Temple shares one of Leopold’s talks from December 1933 on the importance of winter bird feeding. He also tells us why that message was important then and now.
December 1, 1933
Feeding Winter Birds on the Farm
One of the pleasures which is denied the landless multitudes of the cities, but which is accessible to every farmer, is the opportunity to see and live with wild birds. Winter is the time to see birds at close range. The whole bird world, if you want it to, will perform for you daily under your very window-sill. The price of the show is a little forethought and a few handfuls of food.
It is necessary, of course, to keep the yard free of cats. Too many dogs or squirrels are likewise undesirable.
The winter bird show has a deeper meaning than mere entertainment. Winter feeding is the most effective kind of conservation. One feeding station is worth a dozen sermons on the love of nature. As in other conservation work, skill, intelligence, and sustained effort are needed. There is no better way to teach a boy or girl the futility of good resolutions unbacked by persistence and brain work. Try it – for the sake of the birds, the boy, and the better farm life.
Your woodlot is, in fact, an historical document which faithfully records your personal philosophy. Let it tell a story of tolerance toward living things, and of skill in the greatest of all arts – how to use the earth without making it ugly.