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The Kirtland's Warbler: The Story of a Bird's Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It Hardcover – February 8, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Small, rare, and not often seen without a special effort, Kirtland's warbler has still managed to capture the imaginations of countless people. This story of its close brush with extinction and the struggle to pull it back from the brink reads like an adventure novel, except that it's all true." 
--Kenn Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guides

"Besides exhaustively recounting the human and natural history of an extraordinary bird, Rapai has crafted a rare combination of easily accessible prose, scientific literacy, and human passion, together with the mystery and drama of endangered species management." 
--John Fitzpatrick, Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

"The stories and tales surrounding this rare and mysterious species are almost as captivating as the bird itself. This is an excellent source of current research on the Kirtland's warbler, the successes of the current programs, and the perils and difficulties that still face the bird's population." 
--Greg Miller

"Serious bird watchers, students, and professionals interested in birds will enjoy this book." - K.L. Williams, Northwestern State University, Choice


"The population recovery of Kirtland’s Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) is one of the most fascinating success stories of an endangered species in the past 60 years. ... By including the human dimension of recovery efforts, this book keeps the reader involved throughout what ends up being a catalogue of management and research accomplishments."
 ---The Auk (Deahn M. Donner The Auk 2013-04-01)

"This well-told story of the endangered Kirtland's Warbler…is filled with many heroes and much inspiration."
BirdWatching

(BirdWatching BirdWatching 2012-04-19)

About the Author

William Rapai is president of Grosse Pointe Audubon Society and has traveled across North America and to Cuba, Iceland, and Thailand to view and research birds. He was an award-winning reporter and editor for the Grand Forks Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Boston Globe. This is his first book.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REGIONAL; 56090th edition (February 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047211803X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472118038
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,877,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Rapai is president of Grosse Pointe Audubon Society and has traveled across North America and to Cuba, Iceland, and Thailand to view and research birds. He was an award-winning reporter and editor for the Grand Forks Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Boston Globe. This is his first book.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Kirtland's Warbler may be obscure to non-birders, but the fascinating story of the fight to save it from extinction involves a high-profile fire and the co-defendant in one of the most notorious murder cases of the 20th century.

This warbler is a very fussy bird indeed. In order to build its nest, the Kirtland's Warbler insists on a particular amount of land (over 60 acres per bird) hosting a particular species of tree (the jack-pine) at a particular height-range (6.5' to 13') and surrounded by a particular type of undergrowth. Consequently, in the entire US only 13 counties in northern Michigan provide suitable breeding grounds capable of sustaining the bird. Attempts to create more habitat via a controlled burn resulted in the disastrous Mack Lake fire of 1980. And if that wasn't bad enough publicity for the bird, the first person to identify the threat to the Kirtland's Warbler from Brown-headed Cowbirds, which lay eggs in the warbler's nest, was Nathan Leopold. At the tender age of 20, Leopold presented a paper to the American Ornithological Union on the subject a few months before his name would be irrevocably linked to Richard Loeb in the thrill killing of 14-year-old Bobby Franks in 1924.

William Rapai tells these stories and many more in a vigorous, engaging manner, never letting his account turn dry. He's skilled not only at building the larger narrative of how dedicated individuals helped to save this bird, but he's also adept at delivering the smaller stories in individual chapters. Although it may not be a page-turner in the same way that a mystery novel might be, once I started reading this book, I didn't want to put it down.
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Format: Hardcover
Rapai's clear, engaging writing and reporter's discipline make this a very readable account that works on both a micro level -- the details of how this species has been, at least for now, saved -- and on a macro level -- as a view of the complexity of maintaining natural habitat. The effort to save the Kirtland Warbler involves teams in northern Michigan and the Bahamas negotiating with the public, the military, local governments. This could have been dry, but Rapai infuses the story with details ranging from the involvement of a notorious murderer in the early days of research to a catastrophic fire set by the Forest Service to clear habitat in Michigan, one which cost human lives and destroyed a small town. A great piece of reporting and environmental advocacy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of hearing Bill Rapai speak about this book at a local Audubon meeting shortly after its publication. I had put the book on a pile of "to reads", hoping to get to it soon. The story he told at the meeting was so engaging that I immediately came home and started the book.

Avid birders and Michiganders are a natural audience for this book, but even if you're a more general nature lover you'll enjoy the story of this fascinating little bird. What I found really interesting is how much hard work it takes from many dedicated people to protect a single species.

Now I'm more stoked than ever to see a Kirtland's Warbler. My chance is coming -- it's warbler migration time on the south shores of Lake Erie!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read the book since I summer in the Kirtland's Warblers breeding range in Michigan and am also in the Kirtland's Warbler Audubon Society club. The book was interesting as a great review of what it takes to work on saving an endangered species. The author included an interplay between the scientific and natural forces affecting the extinction outcome. A great historic and educational reference as well as easy to read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kirtland's Warbler is one of the rarest birds nesting in the U.S. and was close to extinction. This book describes how dedicated ornithologists and conservationists helped bring it back from the brink. The work was difficult due to lack of knowledge and mistakes were made. In the end however the effort has been successful and can serve as a model for work with other species.
The author tells the story well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though I have never seen a Kirtland's Warbler, I'm glad this book introduced me to this fascinating species. The author engagingly details the history of the bird and the many issues surrounding saving it from extinction. I particularly enjoyed reading about the ups, downs, obstacles, and successes of the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team. This is a great behind-the-scenes look at conservation in action.
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