Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95

Moonbird:  A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
by Phillip Hoose
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012.  148 pgs. Nonfiction.

      Rufa red knots are robin-sized shorebirds whose survival is threatened by habitat destruction and degradation along the over 18,000 miles of their migratory path. Nothing new there, but the red knots are particularly sturdy little birds whose migratory adaptations and patterns exemplify the extraordinary complexity and interrelatedness of nature. The knots know, as the days shorten in the Southern Hemisphere, that it is time to fly north. Storing fat for the journey, he can eat fourteen times his own weight. His stomach enlarges to accommodate the increase in food, and he becomes so fat he can barely achieve liftoff. As he leaves, his gizzard, liver, and gut shrivel, as do his leg muscles so that he doesn't have weight he doesn't need during flight. The red knot's story is told by researchers who briefly capture and band birds at each of their refueling stations; one bird in particular--B95--stands out. Dubbed the Moonbird because he has traveled as far as the moon and halfway back during his nearly twenty years of migration, B95 has outlasted predators, storms, dwindling food supplies, and any number of unnamed hazards to live, breed, and stand as one of the most enduring of Mother Nature's creatures. Moonbird . . . is a remarkable book filled with information about birds, and about how that information is compiled. Any young (or old) nature-lover will find much instruction and delight in this well-written text.

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