Bird migration’s robust history – and fragile future

Barbara Spindel in The Christian Science Monitor:

One can’t help but feel a sense of wonder reading about the bar-tailed godwit, a bird the size of a football, whose winter migration can take it from Alaska to New Zealand in one marathon flight across the Pacific Ocean. The ornithologists who’ve helped us understand the phenomenon of migration inspire wonder as well. Their ingenuity and zeal are at the heart of Rebecca Heisman’s delightful debut, “Flight Paths: How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration.”

Heisman, a science writer who spent five years working for the American Ornithological Society, begins with an overview of the seasonal movement of birds. Some don’t migrate at all, while others are categorized as either short-, medium-, or long-distance travelers. “Flight Paths” focuses on the latter, birds that, once the urge to migrate is triggered, travel for improbably extended stretches, “chasing booms in the availability of insects and other key foods and the right conditions to nest and raise babies.”

More here.