CENTRAL PARK IN THE DARK by Marie Winn

CENTRAL PARK IN THE DARK

More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife

KIRKUS REVIEW

Even blanketed in darkness, Manhattan’s crown jewel teems with fascinating wildlife.

So says Winn, though she admits that as a youngster she was terrified of Central Park after dark. Now, on balmy summer nights, the fearless author and her merry band of “night people” (including a man dressed as Dracula) can be found traversing the park’s leafy, serpentine pathways, armed with flashlights. They have rapturously observed moths rallying around a sap-dripping tree, rodents scampering through the underbrush and various owls on the wing. (The text devotes particular attention, compassion and emotion to these nocturnal fliers.) For Central Park’s “bioblitz,” a daylong census of all living things in specific areas of the park, Winn’s group intrepidly ensnared bats with a net to identify species and habitat. Inviting readers to share her love for animals in their natural habitat, the author mingles personal observations with a plethora of factual information: the echolocation abilities used by bats, distinguishing details of owls, etc. She also includes meticulously detailed notes sent to her by fellow explorers and a posthumous homage to nature-walk “accomplice” Charles Kennedy. Pale Male and Lola, the two hawks perched high above Fifth Avenue chronicled in Winn’s previous book (Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park, 1998), make cameo appearances here. Her group turned its attention to insects at the Parks Department’s “Bug Night”; an entomologist pushing a portable generator to power his black light showed them a host of colorfully winged wonders (mostly moths) fluttering over the Ramble. Though she chronicles a few unsettling encounters with questionable characters lurking in the shadows, Winn does her best to mitigate our instinctive fear of after-dark jaunts in the urban jungle by showing what a breathtaking array of insects and animals it harbors.

Exuberantly illuminates Central Park’s vibrant, 843-acre nocturnal world.

Pub Date: June 17th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-374-12011-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2008




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