Fire Birds: Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests

Sneed B. Collard III. Bucking Horse (Mountain Press Publishing, dist.), $17 (48p) ISBN 978-0-9844460-7-0
Collard explores how a forest devastated by a fire slowly recuperates, focusing on the work of biologist Richard Hutto, who studies the birds that thrive in burned forests. Photographs of birds perched atop blackened tree trunks are striking and intriguing, as is the chronicle of Hutto’s meticulous field work (“Dick discovered that birds don’t just use or visit burned areas. Many birds depend on them”). Individual birds like the hairy woodpecker and mountain bluebird are profiled in sidebars, and a chart lists the birds that most frequently populate new burn areas. While Collard doesn’t suggest that “we should let all fires run amuck,” he challenges the practice of fire suppression, pointing to how the excess dead wood and vegetation have resulted in more extreme fires. The resounding message: forest fires offer an opportunity to learn more about nature’s spectacular resilience. Ages 8–up. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/17/2014
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