An Arctic ecologist introduces a dozen bird species that take advantage of the food available in the brief but bountiful summer to nest and raise their young in the far north.
After a brief introduction and description of bird measurements, as well as the feathers, bills and feet that distinguish them, the author presents her examples, from cliff-dwelling thick-billed murres to tundra-hopping snow buntings. She includes ducks, a loon, swan, hawk and owl, a member of the grouse family called a ptarmigan and the ubiquitous raven. Each species gets a spread: A detailed, layered painting showing the bird (or birds) in a bit of its Arctic habitat sits opposite the text. As the title indicates, it reads like a field guide. A general description is followed by neatly organized facts: where to see them, what they eat, how they sound, nests, eggs, chicks and winter habitat. Length and wingspan are given in centimeters. Where a traditional field guide might provide a Latin name, the author uses Inuktitut, recognizing that these are birds of the Inuit world. The writer also introduces (and defines) other interesting but probably unfamiliar words such as “polynyas,” sea-ice openings where common eiders winter, and “cygnets,” baby swans. She warns against disturbing nests.
Interesting for bird lovers whose homes are in temperate climes as well, especially those who might see some of these intriguing Arctic nesters in winter. (Nonfiction. 8-15)