As he did in The Race to Save the Lord God Bird (2004), Hoose explores the tragedy of extinction through a single bird species, but there is hope for survival in this story, and that hope is pinned on understanding the remarkable longevity of a single bird.
B95 is a 4-ounce, robin-sized shorebird, a red knot of the subspecies rufa. Each February he joins a flock that lifts off from Tierra del Fuego and heads for breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, 9,000 miles away. Late in the summer, he begins the return journey. Scientists call him Moonbird because, in the course of his astoundingly long lifetime of nearly 20 years, he has flown the distance to the moon and halfway back. B95 can fly for days without eating or sleeping but eventually must land to refuel and rest. Recent changes, however, at refueling stations along his migratory circuit, most caused by human activity, have reduced the available food. Since 1995, when B95 was captured and banded, the rufa population has collapsed by nearly 80 percent. Scientists want to know why this one bird survives year after year when so many others do not. In a compelling, vividly detailed narrative, Hoose takes readers around the hemisphere, showing them the obstacles rufa red knots face, introducing a global team of scientists and conservationists, and offering insights about what can be done to save them before it’s too late.Meticulously researched and told with inspiring prose and stirring images, this is a gripping, triumphant story of science and survival. (photographs, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)