VANISHING BIRDS: Their Natural History and Conservation by Tim Halliday

VANISHING BIRDS: Their Natural History and Conservation

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A dry but engrossing investigation of the causes of bird extinction, which establishes the intricate mesh of possible factors, individual for each species, before making a small plea for wiser conservation policies in tune with Peter Singer's Animal Liberation attitudes. In addition to introducing foundational evolutionary data--natural extinctions, the import of the feather, continental drift, climatic change--Halliday explains a key biologist's distinction between survival mechanisms which affect adaptability: r-strategy, or short lives and high birth rate, and K-strategy, long lives and low birth rate. Major factors contributing to extinction include foolish or unenforced hunting laws, millinery fashion, deforestation, pesticides in the food chain, and introduced animals. Halliday demonstrates the complex dependencies of these elements and documents the paths to extinction of a few representative species--the Dodo, Solitaire, Great Auk, and Pink-Headed Duck. He also examines other birds in specific regions (North America, New Zealand, Europe, Australia) and emphasizes the significance of a basic biological phenomenon: since 1680, more than 90 percent of the birds that became extinct were island-dwellers. A believer in captive breeding and protected areas, he cites several examples of successful efforts to prevent extinction (such as the Hawaiian Nene) and insists on the need for global cooperation in future conservation endeavors. A fully illustrated, unsentimentalized accounting.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1978
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston