Rare Birds: The Extraordinary Tale of the Bermuda Petrel and the Man Who Brought It Back from Extinction

Elizabeth Gehrman. Beacon, $26.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8070-1076-1
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Nature and travel journalist Gehrman shares the quirky tale of an eccentric Bermudan “born naturalist,” David Wingate, who nearly singlehandedly saved the cahow—otherwise known as the Bermuda petrel—thought to have been extinct since the 1600s. These astounding, shrieking birds fly “almost continuously for the first two to five years of their lives,” prefer stormy nights, mate for life, lay only one egg a season, and travel thousands of miles to forage for krill. Wingate, an equally rare bird, was a nature lover and birder from an early age. He was 15 years old when, in 1951, his local reputation earned him an invitation to the expedition that unwittingly rediscovered the cahow “clinging to survival on a few barren rocks in the only place on earth it calls home.” He spent his entire 50-year career nurturing the birds, and in the process of creating a habitat for them, restored a deforested island, Nonsuch, to an approximation of its native state. Gehrman’s story is bittersweet; the revived cahows may now be threatened by climate change, and Wingate has found his bureaucratically enforced retirement from his work difficult. However, Wingate’s single-minded passion and his ability to foster the birds, habitat, and Bermudans’ environmental awareness should make readers wish for more “rare birds.” (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2012
Release date: 10/09/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-0-8070-1078-5
Open Ebook - 142 pages - 978-0-8070-1077-8
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