Photographer Deutsch teams up with the American Bird Conservancy and noted ornithologists in a collection of full-color photographs and essays that explore the wonder of all things avian.
A love for birds comes through clearly in this comprehensive collection. Deutsch’s plentiful, stunning photography showcases various winged beauties of the Americas, including Colombia and Ecuador’s dramatic-looking, violet-tailed sylph; the yellow Canada warbler; and the United States’ bald eagle with its impressive wingspan. This hefty guide is both a happy celebration of birds and a warning about their potential future destruction; in a foreword by Jonathan Franzen, the novelist and amateur birder warns that many birds depend on multiple habitats, so their survival depends on land conservation in more than one location. (The book opens with Margaret Atwood’s previously unpublished poem “Fatal Light Awareness,” in which the speaker mourns the death of a thrush that flew into a window.) However, an upbeat introduction, “Birds Are Amazing” by American Bird Conservancy president Michael J. Parr, reveals how the New Caledonian Crow smartly uses tools in the wild to extract grubs from rotten wood. In “The Power of Birds,” John W. Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, eloquently describes a 1970s recording of the beautiful but haunting song of a Hawaiian bird—the sole survivor of its species. In an informative essay, “Migration,” naturalists Kenn Kaufman and Kimberly Kaufman delve into how flight patterns connect the Americas. And Peter P. Marra, the director of the Migratory Bird Center at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, offers compelling, up-to-date scientific tidbits in “Migratory Connectivity,” such as the fact that flight-tracking devices can now weigh as little as 3.4 grams. In another essay, Clare Nielsen, communications VP at the American Bird Conservancy, details how black-pepper vines make wonderful habitats for birds in Guatemala. Overall, the book is brimming with bird facts, and that information can be shocking at times, particularly regarding endangered species.
A rich, gorgeously presented resource for schools and libraries.