cover image Great Plains Birds

Great Plains Birds

Larkin Powell. Univ. of Nebraska, $16.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-4962-0418-9

Powell (Cursed with Wings), a University of Nebraska–Lincoln conservation biology professor, looks at the Great Plains’ avian inhabitants in this valuable work. He credits his interest in them to a long-ago visit with his father to Kearney, Neb., to see the migration of sandhill cranes. Powell evocatively writes that, stretching as far as he and his father “could see were birds—big birds—standing knee-deep in the braided river.” Even more spectacularly, as the sun began to rise, the birds all launched into the air. Powell then launches into his survey, discussing the species common to the area with straightforward descriptions (“golden eagles have solid dark wings”; “the upland sandpiper is a shorebird, but it is not found near water”) that eschew academese. He then describes the grasslands that provide habitats for birds, yet have been threatened by the expansion of agriculture and by widespread tree plantings. To safeguard the area’s birds, he counsels, government agencies must be attentive to how climate change affects remaining bird habitats, and be quicker to act than in the past. After this environmental discussion, Powell concludes with a brief guide to choice birdwatching sites in the northern and southern plains. This informative book will be both a practical resource and enjoyable reading for nature lovers. (Nov.)