Another winner from Weidensaul that belongs in every birder’s library.



Bird researcher and writer Weidensaul unpacks the state of bird migration research and conservation efforts.

Bird migration is a wonder, a natural force that pushes small, fragile creatures to fly immense distances with both speed and tenacity. In his latest contribution to the subject, the Pulitzer Prize finalist provides a wide-ranging investigation into migration, including the success stories as well as current problems and those on the horizon: climate change, which “is reshaping every single thing about migration”; habitat loss and forest fragmentation, “a serious danger to…migrant songbirds”; rat infestation; and hunting—especially after “wild meat became a status symbol rather than a mere source of protein.” As in many of his previous books, Weidensaul is a peerless guide, sharing his intoxicating passion and decadeslong experience with countless bird species all over the world. Another pleasing aspect of the narrative is the author’s fine-line descriptions of the often remote landscapes through which he has traveled and the vest-pocket character portraits of his birding comrades. Each of the chapters covers one or more species and locales—e.g., frigatebirds in the Galápagos, Amur falcons in China and Mongolia, whimbrels on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, more than 160 species of birds in Denali National Park—but the author also ventures into other areas, such as a bird’s “magnetic orientation” ability and the “genetic road map” that allows them to embark on a successful migration. Of course, significant problems abound: the disappearance of birds’ habitat preferences and favored diets; the traditional trapping of songbirds in the Mediterranean for consumption (according to one estimate in 2016, “trappers were killing between 1.3 million and 3.2 million birds annually in Cyprus, making this small island one of the worst places…for this slaughter”); and the disorientation of urban lights. As the author notes, because of the variety and number of routes, habitats, and species, their protection will require a vigorous global approach.

Another winner from Weidensaul that belongs in every birder’s library.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-393-60890-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how ``fruit comes from flowers,'' from winter's snow-covered buds through pollination and growth to ripening and harvest. Like the text, the illustrations are admirably clear and attractive, including the larger-than-life depiction of the parts of the flower at different stages. An excellent contribution to the solidly useful ``Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science'' series. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020055-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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