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Prairie Birds

Prairie Birds
Paul A. Johnsgard
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001
QL683 .G68 J633 2001

For anyone who has ever thrilled to a cloud of blackbirds or a solitary falcon against the prairie sky, Paul Johnsgard has written a book that will both inspire and inform.

One of America's preeminent ornithologists, Johnsgard blends science, nature, and personal observations to tell the life histories of thirty-three grassland birds. Writing with precision and passion, he draws from his own observations to convey the magic of prairie birds, taking readers hawk watching at Scotts Bluff or beside a prairie river on a spring evening with song sparrows in the willow thickets and cranes at the water's edge.

In graceful prose, Johnsgard provides an overview of the hsitory, current status, and uncertain future of prairie birds, from falcons amd shore-birds to larks and sparrows. Some are intercontinental migrants that winter in South America, others sedentary species or short-distance travelers that may frequent the grasslands of Mexico. Johnsgard describes each species - its features, habits, habitats, migratory patterns, and breeding season ecology - with the knowledge and flair that have made his books indispensable for birders of every level of experience.

More than a book on avifauna, Prairie Birds is a compelling portrait of the native grasslands of the Great Plains, which constitute nearly a fifth of the North American Continent and are the most imperiled of the terrestrial ecosystems. He tells how birds evolved along with this "ancient sea of grass" over aeons and also warns of the effects of human interference on the future of grasslands and birds alike, as grazing, burning, and agriculture threaten the native grasses on which many birds depend for survival.

The book features forty-seven drawings by the author, including graphic keys to birdsongs, and fifteen maps. Appendixes provide an annotated list of more than 100 prairie preserves, bird checklists for primary refuges and sanctuaries, and a list of all birds and plants mentioned in the text. A list of more than 600 citations makes this a definitive reference as well as a pleasurable read.

Prairie Birds is an essential book for readers everywhere who love birds and are concerned about their future. It invites us to stop and listen for the song of the pipit or longspur and illustrates the fragile beauty of birds in America's grasslands.

Quoted from dust jacket.