Flight Paths: A Journal of Hope, Heartbreak, and Miracles with New York's Bird People
By Darryl McGrath
In the late 1970's, the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon were heading toward extinction, victims of the combined threats of DDT, habitat loss, and lax regulation. Flight Paths tells the story of how a small group of New York biologists raced against nature's clock to bring these two beloved birds back from the brink in record-setting numbers.
In a narrative that reads like a suspense tale, Darryl McGrath documents both rescue projects in never-before-published detail. At Cornell University, a team of scientists worked to crack the problem of how to breed peregrine falcons in captivity and restore them to the wild. Meanwhile, two young, untested biologists tackled the overwhelming assignment of rebuilding the bald eagle population from the state's last nesting pair, one of whom (the female) was sterile.
McGrath interweaves this dramatic retelling with contemporary accounts of four at-risk species: the short-eared owl, the common loon, and Bicknell's thrush, and the piping plover. She worked alongside biologists as they studied these elusive subjects in the Northeast's most remote regions, and the result s a story that combines as it i a call to action for threatened birds.
Readers are taken to a snow-covered meadow as an owl hunts her prey, a loon family's secluded pond, an eagle nest above the Hudson River, and a mountaintop at dusk in search of Bicknell's thrush, one of the planet's rarest birds. Combining a little-known chapter in New York's natural history with a deeply personal account of a lifelong devotion to birds, Flight Paths is not only a story of our rapidly changing environment and a tribute to some of New York's most heroic biologists, but also a captivating read for anyone who has every thrilled to the sight of a rare bird.