A naturalist and conservationist with a self-confessed obsession with bird migration shares his love and knowledge.
Kaufman (Flights Against the Sunset: Stories that Reunited a Mother and Son, 2008, etc.), the creator of the Kaufman Field Guide series, focuses on the spring migration through the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie. As the author notes, the boardwalk there, one of the most popular among North American birders, is the center of a 10-day bird festival in May that attracts bird lovers from across the country. Throughout the book, Kaufman displays his deep knowledge of birds, and his descriptions of them, from crows and warblers to bald eagles and waterfowl, are spot-on. The author is deeply concerned about the complex and varied threats to birds, especially the proliferation of wind turbines. He devotes a substantial portion of the text to discussions of the fight to keep wind farms out of the heart of his beloved marsh, a major stopover habitat in North America. He also explores the technological advances in tracking both migrating flocks and individual birds. Though he only focuses on one site in northern Ohio, Kaufman also makes broader points about weather, climate change, patterns of migration, and the awesome endurance of migrating birds and the hazards they face. The narrative also contains elements of memoir, similar to his early book, Kingbird Highway (1997), which followed his adventures as a teenage birder hitchhiking across the country finding and tallying birds. This book makes it clear that the author has retained his youthful enthusiasm. He thrills to be outdoors in all weather, hearing and seeing birds, rejoicing in their presence, and he allows readers to share both his joy and his concerns.
Highly readable and thoroughly enjoyable for all lovers of nature books but will be of greatest interest to active birders.