Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review - Rare Bird by Maria Ruth

The story of the marbled murrelet is a mysterious one.  With so many people have explored, investigated, and observed the natural world, we struggle when a genuine mystery finds itself on our doorstep.  For a long time the nesting habits and life cycle of the marble murrelet were unknown and discovered almost by accident.  Actually, entirely by accident.  The book traces through several different themes and questions about man's role in the natural world and the future of the natural world.

The struggles of the Marbled Murrelet are almost entirely man-made.  Even the natural predators of the fog lark (what many loggers call the bird) have benefited from contact with the human world.  The Corvid species of the world have managed to adapt and even expand their ranges due to the influence around the continent.  Why are Corvids (Jays, Ravens, etc) flourishing while birds like the Marbled Murrelet struggle for survival?

So I'm not going to answer those questions because Ruth's narration and her own insertion into the story of this bird are more useful engines for that discussion.  I'll wrap up with this with a heavy endorsement of Ruth's book.  Her journey into the fog-laden world of this bird is mixed with humorous anecdotes and reflection. I would encourage anyone who wants to expand beyond listing and think about following the life, evolution, and environment of the birds they see.  Its good reading for your bird book list!

File:Marbled murrelet breeding plumage.jpg
The Marbled Murrelet by the USGS

2013 List: 81
American Oystercatcher

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