Thursday, September 6, 2012

bravo Couzens!

Being on something of a forced vacation—and by the time the bills are all in, it'll cost about the same as a trip to Paris. (Bonjour, où est Musee d'Orsay?)—has given me time to dive into my stack of unread books I keep by the bed. 

My friend Kimberly calls them "little bundles of hope" because you hope someday you have the time to read them.

Brisa actually brought the first one to me in the hospital. And the Atlas of Rare Birds is a gem!

Author Dominic Couzens has searched the world over to find 50 rare birds: species in decline, species near extinction and species perhaps, but maybe not, already gone. Beautiful birds, plain birds, well-hidden birds and even one Eurasian duck so "ugly" and uncharismatic that the females of the species seem to prefer mating with males of another species. (The introduced American ruddy duck.)  Talk about a hard luck story.

What makes this book so compelling, so heart-warming and so heart-breaking are the individual stories of each species. Their uniqueness to the world and their unique struggle to stay in it. Most, but not all, live in tiny, remote locations: islands, mountain sides, isolated lakes, etc. Or are so finicky, they can only live in a single, hard to find habitat type. i.e. the 200-year-old trees needed by the Pacific northwest's Northern spotted owl.

Eurasian white-headed duck
In the pages of the "Atlas of Rare Birds" you'll meet such species as the ultramarine lorikeet, Bali myna, marvellous spatuletail, po'ouli, Spix's macaw, Udzungwa forest partridge, long-whiskered owl, noisy scrub-bird, Montserrat oriole and the before mentioned white-headed duck, plus the hundreds of people worldwide racing to save them from extinction. Each is a precious thing. (Full disclosure: The last chapter is about the American ivory-billed woodpecker which I myself have written a book about.)

Atlas of Rare Birds is fascinating. Well-written and researched. And YOU simply do not have to have a heart attack to take the time to read it. So do so.

Bravo, author Couzens!

1 comment:

Marie said...

This sounds like the kind of book I will love...I have to get a copy of it! Glad you are getting some reading done!