Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot

Overview

On remote Codfish Island off the southern coast of New Zealand live the last ninety-one kakapo parrots on earth. These trusting, flightless, and beautiful birds—the largest and most unusual parrots on earth—have suffered devastating population loss.

Now, on an island refuge with the last of the species, New Zealand’s National Kakapo Recovery Team is working to restore the kakapo population. With the help of fourteen humans who share a single hut and a passion for saving these ...

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Overview

On remote Codfish Island off the southern coast of New Zealand live the last ninety-one kakapo parrots on earth. These trusting, flightless, and beautiful birds—the largest and most unusual parrots on earth—have suffered devastating population loss.

Now, on an island refuge with the last of the species, New Zealand’s National Kakapo Recovery Team is working to restore the kakapo population. With the help of fourteen humans who share a single hut and a passion for saving these odd ground-dwelling birds, the kakapo are making a comeback in New Zealand.

Follow intrepid animal lovers Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop on a ten-day excursion to witness the exciting events in the life of the kakapo.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Under the careful supervision of forest rangers and volunteers on an island off the New Zealand coast, the nearly extinct, flightless Kakapo parrot is the object of an intensive rescue effort described by this experienced writer-photographer team...As always, the photographer's remarkable and clearly reproduced photographs support and enhance the text. The book's careful design is unobtrusive: The progress of an opening egg sets off page numbers, and fern patterns provide a subtle decoration. Bibliography and a website encourage readers' further explorations. Wonderful."— Kirkus, starred review

"Montgomery’s delight in her subject is contagious, and throughout her enthusiastic text, she nimbly blends scientific and historical facts with immediate, sensory descriptions of fieldwork. Young readers will be fascinated."—Booklist, starred review "Take a parrot. Color it green. Give it soft, fluffy feathers, and whiskers. Give it sumo proportions and take away its power of flight. Make it nocturnal, and have it nest underground. Aha! A kakapo!...Excellent photos and a readable, conversational text provide an intimate look at a concerted effort to save a drastically endangered species unfamiliar to most of the world outside Down Under. Readers who enjoyed this author/photographer team’s The Tarantula Scientist (2007) or Quest for the Tree Kangaroo (2006, both Houghton) will gobble up this tribute to ecological science in action." —School Library Journal, starred review

"More than most books about environmentalism or endangered species, this will encourage kids to consider how hands-on action can genuinely make a difference and how scientific contributions can be made by people who never go near a test tube."—The Bulletin, starred review

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
What's a kakapo? It is a heavy, flightless parrot with moss-green feathers and a smell like that of honey that is on the brink of extinction. Author Montgomery and photographer Bishop have a ten-day pass to visit Codfish Island—just south of New Zealand—to report on the devoted rangers, technical support officers, and volunteers of the National Kakapo Recovery Team, who are attempting to save these unique birds that have dwindled down to a population of only eighty-seven. Since humans and introduced predators have devastated New Zealand's native wildlife, few people are allowed to visit the isolated island; every item taken there must be disinfected. Distressingly, no one knows exactly when the parrots will decide to breed. The writer and photographer share the recovery team's daily life, watch the careful preparation of feed, tracking of the birds by telemetry, and the meticulous weighing and data-keeping of precious eggs when they appear. Each parrot has its own personality; the reporters are privileged to observe several of them closely, to help track a female. They share not only the team's sorrow when one chick and an adult male die unexpectedly, but also their exultation when an egg cracks and a new chick hatches. Bishop's lushly beautiful photographs help readers explore the island's trees, ferns, and mosses as well as other birds and wildlife. Teens hoping for a career in conservation science will surely find this well-designed "Scientists in the Field" volume appealing, as will any reader susceptible to the poignancy of a fascinating species so vulnerable and so irreplaceable. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Take a parrot. Color it green. Give it soft, fluffy feathers, and whiskers. Give it sumo proportions and take away its power of flight. Make it nocturnal, and have it nest underground. Aha! A kakapo! Once millions of these rather affable birds waddled all over New Zealand. Reduced (at present) to fewer than 90, the kakapo have been isolated on Codfish Island (free of feral cats, weasels, and stoats—all introduced species) and are now under the strict, careful guardianship of the New Zealand National Kakapo Recovery Team. Montgomery and Bishop were granted 10 days in which to accompany members of the team (many volunteering their time and efforts) as they radio-tracked the birds night and day in their forest habitat, weighed chicks, watched nesting behavior through hidden cameras, and plowed through gale-force winds and torrential rain to monitor the well-being of their charges. Excellent photos and a readable, conversational text provide an intimate look at a concerted effort to save a drastically endangered species unfamiliar to most of the world outside Down Under. Readers who enjoyed this author/photographer team's The Tarantula Scientist (2007) or Quest for the Tree Kangaroo (2006, both Houghton) will gobble up this tribute to ecological science in action.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Under the careful supervision of forest rangers and volunteers on an island off the New Zealand coast, the nearly extinct, flightless Kakapo parrot is the object of an intensive rescue effort described by this experienced writer-photographer team. Montgomery and Bishop waited five years for the opportunity to visit Codfish Island to document this work. They've hatched a fascinating account of their all-too-short but eventful stay. The author's well-organized narrative includes information about the parrots' habits, their near disappearance and current island habitat and the activities of those who monitor each individual parrot through occasional physical capture and daily radio telemetry observations, watch nests and provide supplemental food. Describing triumph and tragedy, she movingly conveys the magic of the forest and of an accidental encounter with a parrot in the wild. As always, the photographer's remarkable and clearly reproduced photographs support and enhance the text. The book's careful design is unobtrusive: The progress of an opening egg sets off page numbers, and fern patterns provide a subtle decoration. Bibliography and a website encourage readers' further explorations. Wonderful. (Scientists in the Field Series) (map, fundraising plug, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618494170
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/24/2010
  • Series: Scientists in the Field Series
  • Pages: 74
  • Sales rank: 335,332
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery is an author, naturalist, newspaper columnist, scriptwriter, and radio commentator who writes award-winning books for children as well as adults. She lives in Hancock, New Hampshire. Visit her website at symontgomery.com.

Sy Montgomery and photographer Nic Bishop won the Sibert Medal in 2011 for their collaborative work on Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot , another Scientist in the Field title.

Nic Bishop, who holds a doctorate in the biological sciences, is the photographer of many acclaimed books for children. He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.Visit his website at: www.nicbishop.com

Nic Bishop and author Sy Montgomery won the Sibert Medal in 2011 for their collaborative work on Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot , another Scientist in the Field title.

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview with Montgomery, she revealed a few fun anecdotes:

"My companion pig, Christopher Hogwood, age 12, lost 60 pounds on his new diet and now weighs in at a trim 690 pounds."

"My first known act of Eco-Conscience: I was sent home from kindergarten for biting a little boy who had pulled the legs off a daddy longlegs. I would do it again today."

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    1. Hometown:
      Hancock, New Hampshire
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 7, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Frankfurt, Germany
    1. Education:
      Syracuse University: B.A., Newhouse School of Public Communications, 1979; B.A., College of Arts and Sciences, 1979

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