Where Have All the Birds Gone?: Nature in Crisis


Product Details

Twenty-First Century Books (Tm)
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.2 X 0.7 inches | 0.9 pounds
Library Binding

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About the Author

Rebecca E. Hirsch is an award- winning children's author with a PhD in plant biology. Her picture books include Plants Can't Sit Still and Night Creatures: Animals That Swoop, Crawl, and Creep while You Sleep. She lives with her husband and three children in State College, Pennsylvania. You can visit her online at rebeccahirsch.com.


"Scientist and naturalist Hirsch uses a clear and straightforward style to describe factors leading to the loss of three billion North American birds since 1970 and the meaning of such a catastrophic loss to the environment. Her sobering description of the wanton and widespread killing of the passenger pigeon, a North American bird numbering in the millions in the last century, provides a historical context of careless extinction. She contrasts this with the response to the death of hundreds of migrating songbirds that flew into skyscraper plate glass windows in 2020 as she describes steps taken to prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy. The chapters flow from topic to topic with a text that is easy to read and understand on many levels, including for those beginning to study environmental issues. Sidebars amplify the information in the narrative, and a wide range of color photographs, maps, and drawings is engaging and illustrates the diversity of individuals working on environmental issues. Not all doom and gloom, specific chapters describe how individuals can make a difference. The glossary and index make this useful for reports, while the bibliography and source notes provide jumping off points for further exploration. VERDICT Recommended as a first purchase for school and public library collections."--starred, School Library Journal

-- (4/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"Hirsch (Where Have All the Bees Gone?, 2020) examines a new environmental crisis in this alarming survey of what's causing bird populations to decline. Billions of birds are lost annually worldwide--billions. Hirsch plumbs science reports to present the leading culprits in nine well-researched and nicely contextualized chapters, kicking things off with the sobering reality that we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, for which humans are to blame. Many readers may be surprised to learn that window strikes (when birds collide with windows) are the leading killer of birds in North America, though according to the book's statistics, outdoor cats are every bit as deadly. Pesticides, habitat loss, introduced plant and animal species, and climate change comprise the other heavy hitters. Coverage of each topic smoothly incorporates history, science, case studies, and/or work being done to address the problem. Maps, photos, and topical boxed asides lend added support to the main text. It's impossible to read this and not recognize the seriousness of the problem, but Hirsch also highlights birds' resilience when given a helping hand, and she devotes the book's final chapter to positive actions readers can take, from planting native gardens and participating in bird-counting events to making Zen wind curtains for bird-friendly windows. Source notes and a further-reading list conclude this compelling resource."--starred, Booklist

-- (3/15/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"Though written for a target audience ages thirteen to seventeen, this book should be read by everyone. There is a major problem in nature, and it up to all of us to learn about the problem, understand that something much be done, and take action. At first, the reader may not understand the importance of birds in our lives. Not only are they beautiful, with lovely and sometimes unique voices, but they are a major force in insect population regulation and plant movement. Humans have a history of decimating bird populations. The author begins this book with a look at the passenger pigeon which, within about a century, went from a population of more than three billion to zero, with the last one dying in captivity in 1914. An eye-opening book by Rachel Carson in the 1950s alerted the world about the dangers of pesticides, especially DDT. Although the chemical had been touted as safe for humans, its use created disastrous conditions for birds, both directly and as part of the natural food chain. Today, birds are killed due to many causes: crashing into lit windows, hunters shooting birds of prey, climate change, and being killed by feline companions that go outside. The dangers for birds never stop, and there is much that should be done. This book identifies many possible ways to control bird endangerment, which can involve us all. Reading this book should be a must for all. Birds as a part of nature must be preserved, and this book is a very good start for learning about the problems they face. Reviewer Rating: 5" -Children's Literature

-- (10/24/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"This pithy book more than fulfills its promise to introduce readers to the importance of birds, the state of avian research, and how they can contribute to birds' well-being.

The text is both graceful and accessible. It begins with how and why passenger pigeons rapidly became extinct and is unsparing in detailing the deaths of thousands of migratory birds in Philadelphia in October 2020. These sobering accounts are balanced by success stories, such as the rebounding of dwindling raptor populations thanks to wildlife protection laws, a raptor sanctuary, and the ban on DDT. However, along with mentioning how critical birds are to the ecosystem, the text clearly states that 40% of bird species worldwide are shrinking in numbers. There is also a sobering chapter about climate change and its impact on seabirds. A full chapter devoted to the threat posed by domesticated cats uses gentle humor and shows compassion in its recommendations to cat owners. Up-to-date research--including interviews with scientists--highlights the urgency of sustainable farming, bird-friendly skyscrapers, and better placement of wind farms. A cutting-edge discovery by an entomologist, further researched by an urban ecologist, shows how selecting native plants over lawns supports caterpillars, the mainstay diet of most baby birds, turning backyards into habitats. The final chapter exhorts readers to follow the recommendations for reversing the trend toward bird extinctions. The excellent layout, informative sidebars, and attractive images are noteworthy.

Well-informed inspiration."--starred, Kirkus Reviews

-- (1/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)