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Dunne (Golden Wings) presents an intimate account of a two-month trek-accompanied by photographer wife Linda-following the coming of spring across America's prairie grasslands. Theirs is an odyssey into "the time of beginning" that weaves together spiritual insight, plant biology, geology lessons and American history-and a plethora of bird sightings, from the mating trysts of the increasingly rare lesser prairie chicken to the plight of the threatened mountain plover. Their journey begins in New Jersey and continues to Nebraska, their arrival timed to witness the annual migration of half a million northbound sandhill cranes. Next come Colorado and a primer on how homesteading sodbusters transformed an ocean of vibrant prairie grasses into a devastating dustbowl; New Mexico and the Sixth Annual High Plains Lesser Prairie-Chicken Festival; back through Colorado and the Pawnee National Grasslands for a glimpse of the threatened prairie dog, once (along with bison) among the environmental engineers of the 19th century Western plains; and into South Dakota, home to between 800 and 1,400 free-ranging bison. Dunne's melodic prose and rhapsodic connection with the natural world brilliantly entice "an estranged audience to explore a... now alien environment." Photos. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.