Reviewed by Claudia Fetters
retired biology and earth science teacher
This book provides an interesting overview of the hard work and struggles of a group of conservationists from New Zealand and their attempts to preserve a nearly extinct bird species. The book is easy to read and beautifully illustrated, providing children a real insight into the work biologists do. It's highly recommended for biology and ecology students and classrooms.
The book begins with the story of a rare, ground-dwelling parrot that was nearly forced to extinction in New Zealand by invasive animals that destroyed its habitat and ate the birds. In 1951, there were only 51 remaining birds. In recent years those that survived were moved to a remote island free of the invasive animals. Efforts have begun to increase the numbers of these rare birds, which reproduce only rarely. There are currently only 38 females living on the island.
The author and photographer of this book spent 10 days during a breeding season living on the island with the scientists and volunteers; the book is the story of that time and the types of work that the scientists do there. During that time 10 eggs were laid. Some eggs failed to hatch, some of the chicks died, and some survived. Photographs show much of the work being done as well as rare photographs of the birds themselves.
The book explains how the area is protected from disease and predators, the birds' mating rituals, the high-tech monitoring of the nests, and the tracking of the mature birds. Feeding protocols and disease prevention are also discussed. The book is written in a conversational style that makes it engaging and easy to read. It's fully indexed, and detailed references are provided.
Review posted on 10/22/2010