The Kirtland's Warbler: The Story of a Bird's Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It

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9780472118038: The Kirtland's Warbler: The Story of a Bird's Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It

At a time when the world is seeing its species rapidly go extinct, the Kirtland's warbler is not just a survivor, it's a rock star. The Kirtland's warbler is the rarest warbler species in North America and will always be rare because of its persnickety nesting preferences. But when the total population fell below 400 birds in the 1970s and 1980s---driven largely by a loss of habitat and the introduction of a parasite---a small group of dedicated biologists, researchers, and volunteers vowed to save the Kirtland's warbler despite long odds. This is the story of the warbler's survival and gradual recovery, the people and policies that kept it from extinction, and the ongoing challenges that may again jeopardize the bird's future.
In The Kirtland's Warbler, William Rapai explores the bird's fascinating natural history as well as the complex and evolving relationships between the warbler, its environment, its human protectors, and state and federal policies that today threaten to eradicate decades of work done on the species' behalf. Beginning with an account of the warbler's discovery in the mid-nineteenth century and ornithologists' desperate hunt for information on the elusive new species, the book goes on to examine the dramatic events that quickly led to the warbler's precarious status and its eventual emergence as a lightning rod for controversy.
The Kirtland's warbler is often described as a "bird of fire" for its preference for nesting in areas cleared by wildfire. But it also warrants the name for the passion it ignites in humans. Both tragic and uplifting, the story of this intriguing bird is a stirring example of how strong leadership, vision, commitment, sustained effort, and cooperation can come together to protect our natural world.

The Kirtland's Warbler has been named a Michigan Notable Book for 2013 by the Library of Michigan.

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About the Author:

William Rapai is president of Grosse Pointe Audubon Society and has traveled across North America and to Cuba, Iceland, and Thailand to view and research birds. He was an award-winning reporter and editor for the Grand Forks Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Boston Globe. This is his first book.

Review:

"Small, rare, and not often seen without a special effort, Kirtland's warbler has still managed to capture the imaginations of countless people. This story of its close brush with extinction and the struggle to pull it back from the brink reads like an adventure novel, except that it's all true." 
--Kenn Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guides

"Besides exhaustively recounting the human and natural history of an extraordinary bird, Rapai has crafted a rare combination of easily accessible prose, scientific literacy, and human passion, together with the mystery and drama of endangered species management." 
--John Fitzpatrick, Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

"The stories and tales surrounding this rare and mysterious species are almost as captivating as the bird itself. This is an excellent source of current research on the Kirtland's warbler, the successes of the current programs, and the perils and difficulties that still face the bird's population." 
--Greg Miller

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Rapai, William
Published by UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REGIONAL
ISBN 10: 047211803X ISBN 13: 9780472118038
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William Rapai
Published by University of Michigan Press/Regional (2012)
ISBN 10: 047211803X ISBN 13: 9780472118038
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