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Chasing the Ghost Birds: Saving Swans and Cranes from Extinction
     

Chasing the Ghost Birds: Saving Swans and Cranes from Extinction

by David Sakrison
 
You might think that a book about bird conservation would be dull and boring. This one is not.
Chasing the Ghost Birds is filled with interesting characters and exciting adventures:
• Close encounters of the moose kind while gathering trumpeter swan eggs in Alaska
• A historic trip across Siberia by private plane, to visit Siberian crane

Overview

You might think that a book about bird conservation would be dull and boring. This one is not.
Chasing the Ghost Birds is filled with interesting characters and exciting adventures:
• Close encounters of the moose kind while gathering trumpeter swan eggs in Alaska
• A historic trip across Siberia by private plane, to visit Siberian crane nesting sites
• Dancing with whooping cranes, and a female crane with very particular tastes in (human) men
• Using a military-surplus ambulance to lead crane chicks on migration across Arizona
• Fending off eagle attacks during the first ultralight-led crane migrations
• Attempting to lead Siberian crane chicks on a 5,500-mile migration behind a hang glider
• Three people dressed in sacks, carrying a cardboard box, trying to capture a wayward "whooper" and more.

In 1946, fewer than 20 wild whooping cranes remained on the planet. Saving the species from extinction has been described as "the wildlife conservation equivalent of putting a man on the moon." Chasing the Ghost Birds tells the whoopers' story from the first federal protection of the species, through struggles to breed the birds in captivity, unsuccessful efforts at cross-fostering, and early migration experiments in Idaho and New Mexico, up to the ongoing Wisconsin-to-Florida ultralight-led migrations. The book traces the trumpeter swans' return, from cross fostering and hand-raising, to successful reintroduction in the Midwest Flyway. And it recounts the 30-year international struggle to save the elusive and endangered Siberian cranes.

The 283-page paperback includes illustrations, maps, andblack & white and color photographs. If your interests include birds, wildlife, conservation, wilderness travel, or outdoor adventures, Chasing the Ghost

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Discoveries
Sakrison documents the work of three important swan- and crane-conservation projects.

Until very recently, trumpeter swans and whooping cranes stood at extinction's door; Siberian cranes do so today. Despite humans having revered the birds for eons-for their size and fidelity and crazy-wild soft-shoe-they also hunted the birds mercilessly (for such products as feathered hats and powder puffs) and methodically, if cluelessly, went about destroying their habitats, not just by altering the terrain, but by filling it with lead from errant shots. Starting about 25 years ago, a dedicated band of swan and crane enthusiasts began toiling long and hard to increase the wild populations of swans and cranes. Sakrison chronicles the field days of projects reintroducing trumpeter swans to the Midwest and whooping cranes to the Eastern United States, and efforts underway to protect the critically threatened Siberian crane in Russia.

He presents these stories as old-fashioned, yeomanly campfire tales, investing them with gradually increasing drama, meanwhile providing significant historical information as well as strange incidentals, as in the image of a fieldworker, decked out in a flowing white crane-mimicking burka, using a hand puppet to teach a chick to forage. He draws intelligent and sympathetic portraits of the players, makes skirmishes into the ornithological literature that lay readers will understand and appreciate, and serves up the nit and grit of fieldwork and the logistics of the recovery efforts without throwing sand in the reader's eyes. He wisely avoids bringing on the stringed music when chronicling the inspiring moments, such as ultra-lights guiding young cranes ontheir first migrations; the simple description is wonderfully cheering. Perhaps most impressively, Sakrison succeeds in conveying the empathy, patience and dedication of the recovery team members, taking to their roles as teachers and parents as veritably as if they had feathers of their own.

A solid, thoroughgoing and affecting work, and an estimable addition to avian history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780979279904
Publisher:
Watson Street Press
Publication date:
10/28/2008
Pages:
283
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
3 Months

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