White Ibis: Wetland Wanderer

Keith L. Bildstein, Author Smithsonian Books $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-56098-223-4
Ornithologist Bildstein, director of research at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pa., presents the results of a ten-year study of the white ibises that breed on Pumpkinseed Island, a tiny parcel of salt marsh off the coast of northeastern South Carolina. In one year, as many as 11,000 pairs of ibises might colonize the island, providing the author with the opportunity to note all aspects of their behavior. While Bildstein includes more charts and scientific data than the average bird-watcher may want, he writes lucidly, and the reader who stays with his book will be rewarded. The painstaking research showed that the ibises, who fly long distances to inland marshes to secure freshwater crayfish for their young, abandon their nesting sites when supplies of this prey are depleted. This observation enabled the author to solve the mystery of why scarlet ibises no longer breed in Trinidad and why the white ibises abandoned Pumpkinseed Island for a year after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. The conclusions underscore the interrelationship of coastal ecosystems and the importance of sustaining them. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
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