can feel it: a stirring in his bones and feathers. It’s time. Today is the day
he will once again cast himself into the air, spiral upward into the clouds,
and bank into the wind.
wears a black band on his lower right leg and an orange flag on his upper left,
bearing the laser inscription B95. Scientists call him the Moonbird because, in
the course of his astoundingly long lifetime, this gritty, four-ounce
marathoner has flown the distance to the moon and halfway back!
a robin-sized shorebird, a red knot of the subspecies rufa. Each
February he joins a flock that lifts off from Tierra del Fuego, headed for
breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, nine thousand miles away. Late in the
summer, he begins the return journey.
can fly for days without eating or sleeping, but eventually he must descend to
refuel and rest. However, recent changes at ancient refueling stations along
his migratory circuit, changes caused mostly by human activity, have reduced
the food available and made it harder for the birds to reach. And so, since
1995, when B95 was first captured and banded, the worldwide rufa population
has collapsed by nearly 80 percent. Most perish somewhere along the great
hemispheric circuit, but the Moonbird wings on. He has been seen as recently as
November 2011, which makes him nearly twenty years old. Shaking their heads,
scientists ask themselves: How can this one bird make it year after year when
so many others fall?
Book Award–winning author Phillip Hoose takes us around the hemisphere with the
world’s most celebrated shorebird, showing the obstacles rufa red knots
face, introducing a worldwide team of scientists and conservationists trying to
save them, and offering insights about what we can do to help shorebirds before
it’s too late. With inspiring prose and thorough research, Hoose explores
the tragedy of extinction through the triumph of a single bird. Moonbird is
one The Washington Post’s Best Kids Books of 2012.
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