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Cranes: A Natural History of a Bird in Crisis Hardcover – September 12, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Of the world’s 15 species of cranes, 3 are endangered, 6 are vulnerable to extinction, and 1 is near threatened. How did these tall, magnificent birds end up in such a crisis? Canadian ornithologist Hughes provides answers to this and a myriad of other questions about cranes in this new examination. Cranes are similar in their general natural history, and the opening chapter of the book takes a broad look at crane biology. The author places particular emphasis on crane vocalizations and their dancing displays, both behaviors that are not only evocative but extremely important in crane daily life. The bulk of the book is taken up with a study of the whooping crane, the most endangered of all the species and serving as the example for what is being done to conserve the other cranes. After a historical chapter on the discovery and precipitous decline of the whooping crane, two chapters describe the two-pronged approach scientists have taken for their recovery: A section of profiles of all 15 crane species, including a range map with migratory routes, completes the text. Beautifully illustrated. --Nancy Bent


This book is both a good read and a useful resource for anyone interested in the conservation of some of the world's most beautiful birds. (Birding Business Magazine 2009-12-00)

Hughes provides answers to a myriad of questions about cranes in this new examination.... Beautifully illustrated. (Nancy Bent Booklist 2009-01-01)

Hughes has produced a wonderful....beautifully produced book .. She writes beautifully and has given us a book that should serve as the standard reference work for general readers. (Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay) 2009-10-05)

Cranes is a beautiful book about a beautiful bird and, unfortunately, a threatened one.... In her informative and interesting book, Hughes looks ata the natural history of cranes as well as the decline of Whooping Cranes along with their modest recovery -- including some of those responsible for helping to bring this tenacious bird back from the brink of extinction.... Besides the informative text, there are numerous, beautiful colour photographs throughout the book. Cranes: A Nature History of a Bird in Crisis is an important book and will be of interest to anyone interested in animals, nature or history. (MetroLand North .com 2008-09-00)

Cranes: A Natural History or a Bird in Crisis is a beautiful book about a beautiful bird and, unfortunately, a threatened one. (N. Glenn Perrett Lake Wah-Wash-Kesh Conservation Association 2008-12-00)

An intimate profile of these statuesque waders and a call for conservation. (Science News 2009-01-03)

Anyone interested in cranes, especially the Whooping Crane, will enjoy this book. (Scientific Life (Birdbooker Report 39) 2008-12-22)

Whoop it up for the 15 species of this endangered creature. Stick your neck out, wade right in, and Hughes' full treatment will reward your effort. (Philadelphia Inquirer 2008-12-14)

Eye-catching photographs of 15 crane species ... Hughes uses the whooping crane to tell the story of the human and environmental pressures leading to the decline of the cranes. (Sharon Woofton The Olympian 2009-01-03)

Sumptuous. (Bill Robertson The Star Phoenix 2008-12-13)

[Cranes] is more than a coffee-table book, giving us an opportunity to reflect on the complex ties that bid humans and birds. (Eric Bodman Montreal Gazette 2008-12-15)

An intimate profile of these statues waders and a call for conservation. (Science News 2009-01-03)

Janice Hughes has done an excellent job of conveying the current state of scientific knowledge about cranes in an easily understandable fashion.... Overall, the author succeeds admirably in chronicling the decline and gradual recovery of the Whooping Cranes in North America... Most [of the photographs] are of outstanding quality and they are a splendid and instructive support to a text that is easy to read. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about the biology and conservation of cranes in general and the Whooping Cranes in particular. (Christopher J. Butler Journal of the British Ornithologists' Union 2009-01-00)

Large, beautifully produced [and] has fantastic photography... enjoyable and comprehensive.... Recommended to anyone wishing to learn more about [this] fascinating family. (Grant McCreary 2009-04-00)

At its is well-written, even eloquent, especially in sections discussing the plight of cranes.... If you are interested in the fascinating account of the collapse and gradual recovery of the Whooping Crane in North America, coupled with an overview of cranes generally, then this could be a good book to acquire. (Clive E. Goodwin The Canadian Field-Naturalist, Vol. 121 2009-01-00)

Easily the best account of America's effort to save from extinction the whooping crane, one of our rarest and, arguably, most beautiful birds. Over the years there have been several book-length accounts of these efforts.... None of these is as complete as this book. Additionally, it is the most up-to-date, bringing the story of the whooping crane's recovery program up to the late summer of 2006.... This splendid decorated with over 80 of the most spectacular crane photographs ever assembled in one place. My only regret about this book is that I hadn't written it. (Paul A. Johnsgard, School of Biological Sciences, Great Plains Research Vol. 20 No. 1, Center for Gr 2010-03-00)

Beautifully done. (Lois Cooper Muskoka Today 2008-11-13)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books; First Edition edition (September 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155407343X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554073436
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.9 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,378,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Johnson on October 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Janice Hughes explores the natural history of the 15 species of cranes in the opening chapter. We learn about all aspects of these birds including habitat, distribution, behavior, breeding, and seasonal movements. Her writing is clear, informative, and easy to read. The chapter concludes with the issues of conservation, examining the most significant challenges that cranes are experiencing today throughout the planet.

It is in the second and subsequent chapters that the book really takes off. The author examines the Whooping Crane in detail. This once abundant North American bird was reduced to just a dozen or so survivors in the 1940s. Hughes meticulously researches the hunt for the surviving birds, and the trials and errors that were part of the extraordinary efforts to save them. She captures the personalities, the heros, and the villains in an imaginative and engaging way not usually found in popular science books. The efforts of Operation Migration are highlighted as well. This group patiently teaches young whoopers how to migrate to Florida every autumn using tiny ultralight aircraft to lead the flocks south.

Hughes puts a human face on the Whooping Crane story. The book stars both this beautiful bird and the humans who have helped to rescue it from the brink of extinction. Today, there are more than 500 Whooping Cranes alive in North America. It is a hopeful book and a good read.
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