The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds

Jon Dunn. Basic, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5416-1819-0
Natural history writer Dunn (Orchid Summer) takes readers on a wondrous globe-trotting pilgrimage to seek out hummingbirds as their populations are threatened. He stops in Alaska to check on “the most northerly hummingbirds in the world” whose population is in decline (as are birds at the southernmost tip of South America), and visits Patagonia, Ariz., to see “a species at best scarce in the United States.” Dunn points to climate change, habitat loss, and hunting as reasons “the clock of extinction is ticking loudly for them.” Along the way, Dunn shares odd facts about the birds’ physiognomy and behavior—their tongues are so long “that, when retracted, they coil inside the birds’ heads around their skulls and eyes,” and male Anna’s Hummingbirds court prospective mates by making music with their tails. As in the best nature writing, Dunn paints striking pictures: he describes a bird “clad in an impossibly rich and overpowering imperial purple that, as traces of golden light from the lodge struck his breast, exploded into myriad sparks of palatinate life, each feather coruscating and glittering.” Dunn’s vivid prose, balanced with just the right amount of detail, will captivate birders and non-birders alike. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/11/2021
Release date: 04/20/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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