A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds

Scott Weidensaul. Norton, $32 (432p) ISBN 978-0-393-60890-8
“In the past two decades we’ve realized how badly we have underestimated the simple physical abilities of birds,” suggests naturalist Weidensaul (Living on the Wind) in this remarkable look at global bird migration. “The world is changing around us,” he writes, and migrating birds are “our best and most compelling window” into those changes. To understand the “complexity of migratory ecology,” Weidensaul takes readers to Alaska’s Denali National Park, where he catches and tags thrushes; coastal Jiangsu Province in China, a critical way station for migratory shorebirds; and Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean “at the nexus of great migratory flyways connecting central Europe to Africa and the Middle East” that’s notorious for illegal bird trapping. Along the way, Weidensaul describes tracking technology, such as outdated radiotelemetry, and geolocators that weigh “barely half a gram.” He notes with urgency the consequences of climate change and urban development on migration patterns (brightly lit skyscrapers disorient migrating birds) while maintaining a sense of wonder about the birds’ efforts and abilities: “a migratory bird’s ability to traverse thousands of miles is perhaps the greatest physiological feat of all.” Bird enthusiasts and fans of nature writing shouldn’t miss this. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/31/2020
Release date: 03/30/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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