CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2006
Another animal group has been added to the growing list of titles in the “Firefly Animal Rescue” series. The birds of prey in focus here include several species of eagles, peregrine falcons, California condors, burrowing owls and vultures. While these birds are admired for their special hunting adaptations, their speed and/or size, they have also been targeted throughout history for their image as killers. The result has been dramatic population declines due to poisoning, habitat and prey loss, and hunting. This book addresses these issues and highlights some of the work of scientists who are attempting to restore and stabilize raptor populations around the world.
A feature that sets the tone for all the books in this series is the time line page (The Story So Far) that traces the problems and solutions. The devastating effects of DDT, for example, came to light in the 1940s, and it was not until 1974 that captive-bred peregrine falcons were ready for release in Canada. In other parts of the world, use of chemicals continues to impact these top-of-the-food-chain predators; some calls for bans have yet to be answered. Another intriguing aspect of the books is the inclusion of profiles of individuals at work on recovery programs. These range from a US veterinary microbiologist investigating vulture die-offs in Pakistan, to an Alberta rancher monitoring burrowing owls that nest on his land. Accounts of each specie's struggles and successes are written in engaging language accessible to a middle grade audience and include top-quality dramatic photographs of both lifestyle and recovery operations. Readers may be surprised at the innovative methods used to track and document the birds' lives: critically endangered condor chicks are fed by life-sized condor puppets to avoid human imprinting, and the condors wear numbers and radio transmitters upon release to alert researchers about where they go, what they eat, even what other birds they associate with.
Living in BC, Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.