Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Saving Birds: Heroes Around the World

Saving Birds: Heroes Around the World

Stephen W. Kress, Pete Salmansohn
For ages 10 to 13
Tilbury House, 2002   ISBN: 978-0884482376

Black Robins, hornbills, black cranes, lesser kestrels, quetzals, and common mures, are all species of birds which have been rescued from possible extinction by remarkable people who care about the future of these wonderful animals. Protecting and increasing the numbers of these birds has been very hard work and on occasion has required that the scientists and their helpers perform what amounts to a miracle or two. At one time there were five black robins left in the world.

Thankfully Don Merton and a team of helpers got on the job and by 1999 the number was up to 250, a remarkable achievement attributable to the resourcefulness of the scientists and the cooperation of two hard working female black robins. In Chiapas, Mexico, a pair of puppeteers tells a story about a beautiful quetzal called Rainbow. Through their story they teach school children about the need to protect the quetzal and its environment. Despite a difficult political situation, several groups of scientists have also managed to recruit children to help them protect and study the lesser kestrel in Israel. Ingenuity has played an enormous part in the protection and recovery of the Sarawak hornbill and the common mure. Hornbills have beautiful plumage, prized by local tribal peoples. Luckily Liz Bennet and her companions noticed the white turkey feathers look very much like those used by the tribal people. A little paint and you couldn’t tell the difference. Deception has also been used in California where common mures have been cajoled to return to an old breeding ground by the clever use of mirrors, decoys and sound recordings. In China a different tack was taken to save the black crane and its environment.

A dedicated group of environmentalists raised small amounts of money. These were used to help build an infrastructure that would benefit both the people living near the wetlands, and the cranes which call that area home. In the classroom children could discuss how they would go about protecting an endangered species that they know about.