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Comment: Ex-Library with typical library markings. All pages and cover are intact. Shelf wear on spine, cover and/or edge of pages. Text is NOT obscured or unreadable.
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Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere With Migratory Birds Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; First Edition edition (April 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865475911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865475915
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Did you know that neither temperature nor hunger sparks bird migration? That many species migrate at night? That some birds migrate more than 5,000 miles in a single, uninterrupted flight? "We are such stodgy, rooted creatures," observes the author of this fascinating book. "To think of crossing thousands of miles under our own power is as incomprehensible as jumping the moon. Yet even the tiniest of birds perform such miracles."

For anyone curious about the lives of migratory birds (and, incidentally, those of bird-obsessed humans), this book is a great nest of information. The author has traveled all over the world banding and observing birds and talking to the experts--amateur birders and ornithologists who have made many of the important discoveries about bird biology. From Alaska to Lake Erie to the limestone forests of Jamaica, Weidensaul reaches not only for the scientific particulars but for the universal stories and humanizing, descriptive turns of phrase that keep this book from bogging down in statistics and jargon. By book's end the reader is unable to resist the heart of this compelling story, a plea for the conservation of habitat to keep these miraculous creatures on--or at least circling--the earth. --Maria Dolan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Scientific American

"At whatever moment you read these words, day or night, there are birds aloft in the skies of the Western Hemisphere, migrating." Thus Weidensaul begins his compelling tale, adding shortly afterward what must be a widely shared thought: "That such delicate creatures undertake these epic journeys defies belief." With helpful supporting maps, he describes the migrating habits of many bird species and considers the intriguing question of how they do it. At the end, he focuses on a single bird--a redstart that he hears and sees singing while he sits alongside a stream in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. "What I cannot see, no matter how closely I look, is what drives this small creature, barely heavier than air, to make the journeys that it must make... Its secrets are locked in that tiny packet of brain and muscle and instinct, a few feet away but separated from me by an immense, uncrossable distance. It knows, and I do not." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 32 customer reviews
In other words, it is a book to be appreciated for more than just its content.
Richard E. Hegner
Not only backyard birding enthusiasts, but anyone who has ever had even a passing interest in birds will love this book.
B. Bloodworth
A rewarding book that highlights the increasing problems that face all migratory birds.
Peter Mackey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Richard E. Hegner on April 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have been a birdwatcher for 39 years, and rarely have I encountered a book that I enjoyed as much as this. Unlike another reviewer, I learned a great deal about migration from reading this book--though, truth to tell, the book is as much about population dynamics among Western Hemisphere birds as it is about migration. One of the particular insights I gained from the book is a better realization of the somewhat parochial viewpoint many of us birdwatchers in North America take, considering migrants who spend only a brief part of the year breeding here to be "our birds," when they spend most of their lives either in Latin America or migrating between the two continents. The author has an unusually captivating writing style and most of the book was hard for me to put down; he reminds me of some of the best nature writers I have encountered--Hal Borland, John Burroughs, Loren Eiseley, Pete Dunn, and Thoreau. One of the book's particular strengths is its focus on certain critical locales as well as individual species; the general observations have much more meaning because of these case examples. While the book is most likely to be appreciated best by veteran birdwatchers, I do feel that almost anyone with a natural history bent can find some enjoyment in it. Among the few shortcomings of the book are the lack of illustrations for those unfamiliar with the individual species--something that can be remedied by referring to a field guide as one reads it--as well as the paucity of really good maps. (There are a few scattered maps, but the text makes repeated reference to sites in the Western Hemisphere--especially outside the U.S. and Canada--about whose location I had no idea.Read more ›
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By B. Bloodworth on June 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is absolutely one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. Not only backyard birding enthusiasts, but anyone who has ever had even a passing interest in birds will love this book. Scott writes about birds in an understanding yet scientific manner that lends itself to wonderful readability while providing vast amounts of information. Beginning in Alaska, moving down the hemisphere to the pampas of Argentina, and back again, he takes the reader on a amazing journey that literally follows the paths taken by millions of birds each year. He combines personal field experiences with well assembled accounts of scientific research and ornithological history to paint a vivid picture of the swirling patterns of avian movement across the globe. If you have ever looked twice at a bird passing overhead, I highly reccomend picking up this valuable addition to any naturalist's library.
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Format: Hardcover
This review by Charlotte Seidenberg was published Sunday, May 9, 1999 in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
''So tell me, what is a blackburnian warbler worth, orange and ebony like a jungle tiger?'' Scott Weidensaul asks in ''Living on the Wind: Across the Globe with Migratory Birds." "In the end such measures are pointless," he answers. "We should probably just stand aside and watch with quiet humility as another generation of travelers flies north, compelled by a priceless bravery buried deep in their genes." Though some gloomy scientists predict the end of migrations in our lifetime, Weidensaul says "there's no future in pessimism. Here, at the last possible moment, we have awakened to what we stand to lose -- poised on the brink, but still, perhaps, with time to draw away from the edge." This immensely readable exploration of bird migration by a prolific nature writer and licensed bird bander shows us just what we stand to lose. It's science that reads like adventure with well-drawn characters in vividly described settings. It's about birds and nature, but also about people and the ways they interact with the natural world. It's a cliffhanger with the ending as yet unwritten. The author traveled from one end of the Western Hemisphere to the other pursuing the mysteries of migration: from the western Alaskan breeding grounds of millions of shorebirds with names such as tattler and dunlin and godwit to the Argentine pampas, wintering grounds of the Swainson's hawk, "a bird made of light and shadow, at home in the pale blue bowl of the prairie sky.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Eleodes on February 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Writing with obvious affection for the subject, Scott Weidensaul does an exceptional job of reviewing the complex topic of avian migration. The book is an up-to-date treatment of how, why, and to where birds move (at least in the Western Hemisphere). It is not written as a standard ornithological text (nor was it meant to be one) in that it does not include citations at every fact, but this makes the book flow more smoothly, and references are included at the end. The book is chock full of details, some written as very readable anecdotes about the author's travels and experiences as a birder and bird-bander. His lyrical descriptions of birds and their migratory accomplishments do justice to an incredible biological phenomenon.
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