Monday, August 3, 2015

Non-Fiction Monday: The Call of the Osprey by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

The Call of the Osprey by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Photographs by William Muñoz. 80 p. Scientists in the Field series. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June, 2015. 9780544232686. (Purchased)

Ospreys are birds of prey that live along rivers and bodies of water because their main prey are fish. They return to the same nest (and mate) year after year. These nests are often high up in dead trees and telephone poles. The human population tends to remove dead trees and telephone poles can be deadly, so conservation folks, power companies and landowners have been cooperatively constructing nesting platforms. Their population was declining during the 1960s due mostly to the spraying of DDT. Scientists at the Montana Osprey Project have been studying the effects of pollution on the osprey population in a large Superfund clean-up sight along the Clark Fork River. This team spends a great deal of time each nesting season observing, counting, tagging fledglings and drawing blood samples. Then, they spend the fall and winter analyzing. 

Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and William Muñoz teamed up to tag along and observe/ record the work of these dedicated wildlife biologists and students. Patent's cogent writing and Muñoz's amazing photos are equally gorgeous and engaging. There is so much packed into these eighty pages. There's an overview of osprey habits and habitats, osprey mating and fledging, and osprey migration. Another chapter relates the effects that mining has on the environment and what a Superfund cleanup is. 

 As usual, the book is gorgeously designed. Plenty of side bars to enhance the narrative. Additionally, pages designed to look like a writer's notebook lay open on double-page spreads and provide biographies of established scientists and budding scientists. An author's note is followed by pages entitled, "To Learn More" and includes books for both adult and young readers and a variety of websites and webcams, as well as four related organizations, sources, acknowledgements, an epilogue and a glossary.

Another must-purchase addition to a stellar series. I'm going to grab my binoculars now and head down to the reservoir for a little birdwatching on this gorgeous summer morning.

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