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Rare birds; the extraordinary tale of the Bermuda petrel and the man who brought it back from extinction.


Rare birds; the extraordinary tale of the Bermuda petrel and the man who brought it back from extinction.

Gehrman, Elizabeth.

Beacon Press


240 pages




In an entertaining and informative style, nonfiction writer Elizabeth Gehrman introduces readers to an extraordinary person and an extraordinary story about Bermuda, biology, and conservation. Naturalist David Windgate was a fourteen-year-old boy as he watched the rediscovery of the last Bermuda petrels, a bird thought as long dead as the dodo. He decided to dedicate his life to saving the species, and he has. Gehrman tells the tale of what happened with great human drama, without sentimentality, and with scientific accuracy. The history of the bird, Bermuda, and Windgate's life are all fascinating and thoroughly intertwined here, and the book will be a pleasure for general readers with an interest in natural history, birds, conservation, Bermuda, or island life. The book's interest is larger than the tale of the Bermuda petrel. In her profile of David Windgate, Gehrman quietly makes two facts clear. The first is that, working alone and mostly without support or recognition, Windgate and a few similar individuals invented modern conservation biology: endangered species can be saved, they can save themselves, the job requires protecting and restoring the lands where they live, and how to do it in practice. (In Windgate's case, he replanted an entire island by hand.) The second is that people with the vision to see what others cannot and the passionate dedication to persist and succeed are by definition eccentric and out of step. A society benefits from them as much or as little as it respects their differences. In this story, the petrel flies again, and Windgate and Bermuda both turn out to be winners.

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Publication:Reference & Research Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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