Division of Bird Habitat Conservation

Birdscapes: News from International Habitat Conservation Partnerships

The Bookshop

Project Ultra Swan

If you have a child or grandchild who is showing inclinations toward a life spent working with animals, Elinor Osborn’s Project Ultra Swan is a must have for his/her personal library. Ms. Osborn is gifted with the ability to take the work of scientists and translate it into language that children will enjoy reading, or having read to them, over and over again.

In this Scientists in the Field Series book, Ms. Osborn follows 3 years of the trials, tribulations, and successes of the Trumpeter Swan Migration Project, an effort to reestablish an Atlantic Flyway migratory population of trumpeters led initially by a biologist flying an ultralight aircraft. The author doesn’t take the reader up-up-and-away immediately. First he/she has to go to ground school, learning the basics of trumpeter swan biology. Did you know that swans have more vertebrae in their necks than giraffes? That if you asked a trumpeter to stand in a single-car garage doorway, its outstretched wings would reach across the 8-foot opening?

Ms. Osborn recounts the history of the trumpeter’s close call with extinction before introducing the reader to the biologists in charge of the project and the methods they used to train the birds to follow an ultralight. Also a professional photographer, Ms. Osborn fills the books with wonderful images to help tell the story. Maps show historic and current breeding and wintering ranges and the project’s migration routes. A table and three portrait images offer comparisons among North America’s three swans. A list of places to see trumpeter swans and contacts for more information about the project or trumpeters also is provided.

Even if you don’t have kids to share it with, you’ll enjoy this book. Hardcover, 11.5 x 9, 64 pages, 60 color photographs, four maps, one figure. ISBN 0-618-14528-1. Cost is US$16.00. Available in bookstores.

Conozca Sus Patos – Know Your Ducks

You may be familiar with the handy, pocket-sized, waterfowl identification guide entitled Ducks at a Distance. It was published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Southwest Natural and Cultural Heritage Association in the mid 1980s, covers the ducks of North America, and features the signature illustrations of the late Bob Hines. Ducks Unlimited, Inc., recently published a bilingual guide based on this old favorite to help people recognize ducks known to frequent the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America.

Colorful illustrations by Mr. Hines and other talented artists appear on every page of Conozca Sus Patos – Know Your Ducks, along with information about each species’ physical and behavioral characteristics and geographic range. Unlike Ducks at a Distance, this version also dedicates a page each to wetland descriptions, general characteristics of waterbirds, basic duck anatomy, the region covered by this guide, and population monitoring techniques. Local names vary, therefore, only scientific names are given for each species. However, editors Montserrat Carbonell and Julie Garvin thought to include a page that lists the scientific names with a blank line next to each on which you can fill in the local name(s).

This book is also an excellent reference for native Spanish- and English-speaking birders who aspire to learn the bird-related vocabulary of the other language, or improve on it.

Soft cover, 4 x 6.75, Spanish and English, 71 pages, color and black-and-white illustrations, Western Hemisphere map. For ordering and pricing information, contact Montserrat Carbonell, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., One Waterfowl Way, Memphis, Tennessee 38210-2351, USA, (901) 758-3788, mcarbonell@ducks.org.