Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kakapo Rescue

The Kakapo (kar-ka-poe), the reader finds out in the latest volume of Houghton Mifflin's Scientists in the Field series, is an extremely unusual bird that not only faces constant threats from predators because it is a flightless parrot, but also that its enormous population losses are either directly or indirectly attributable to man. This beautiful bird faced dangers from predators and mankind alike because of its nature: it is very friendly, and a sad fact is that it was once so plentiful that it was a food source for polynesian settlers. Other settlers brought not only predators that thought these [flightless!] birds were a delicious, enticing food -- their feathers smell like honey -- but animals whose hooves destroyed the soil where their food grew. There are now less than 100 of the birds left. So what can be done?
Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop waited years for permission to travel to Codfish Island, the remote location where the remaining kakapo have been moved and are watched over by New Zealand's National Kakapo Recovery Team. Readers will see not only the extreme measures these dedicated scientists take to ensure that they are not passing any germs or foreign substances to the birds or chicks as well as a sense of the rewards they get from their work. This is a book that made me cry several times, and one that would be useful to encourage support for conservation. As with all of the other books in the series, there are suggestions for further reading and an index.

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