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Fire Birds

by by Sneed B. Collard III

Publishers Weekly Collard explores how a forest devastated by a fire slowly recuperates, focusing on the work of biologist Richard Hutto, who studies the birds that thrive in burned forests. Photographs of birds perched atop blackened tree trunks are striking and intriguing, as is the chronicle of Hutto's meticulous field work ("Dick discovered that birds don't just use or visit burned areas. Many birds depend on them"). Individual birds like the hairy woodpecker and mountain bluebird are profiled in sidebars, and a chart lists the birds that most frequently populate new burn areas. While Collard doesn't suggest that "we should let all fires run amuck," he challenges the practice of fire suppression, pointing to how the excess dead wood and vegetation have resulted in more extreme fires. The resounding message: forest fires offer an opportunity to learn more about nature's spectacular resilience. Ages 8-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Blame it on Smokey the Bear and his "Only you can prevent forest fires!" campaign. We know today that the long-held U.S. Forest Service fire suppression policy led to a build-up of large amounts of dead wood and leaves, which, coupled with warmer temperatures and drier forests, has been responsible for some of the extreme fires witnessed in recent years. Adding to that information are the discoveries made by scientists studying these devastated areas, who have learned that various species flock to them and, in some cases, prefer them. In particular, Collard follows the work of Richard Hutto, a Montana ornithologist, who has been monitoring birds in charred landscapes since 1988. The book is both a look at the benefits of these potentially dangerous events of nature and an exploration of ecosystems that thrive in their wake. Wood-boring beetles that detect the infrared radiation emitted by fires arrive to lay eggs, and woodpeckers come to feast on the beetle larvae and nest. With a steady supply of food and fewer predators, avian young survive in greater numbers, and so it goes. The author also discusses private vs. public policy in response to forest fires and the questions surrounding the efficacy of salvage logging. Large print, glossy pages, and numerous full-page, up-close color photos of bird species add up to a handsome volume. VERDICT A book that will leave readers asking questions and challenging assumptions-and with a keener appreciation of our environment. A first purchase for most libraries.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Collard sets out to debunk the misconception that forest fires leave nothing but desolation in their wakes in this straightforward, informative book about bird life in the forest after a major burn. Opening on an ornithologist conducting field research, the text highlights numerous bird species that thrive in burned forests. Woodpeckers in particular seek out the wealth of beetle grubs in burned trees, and the cavities their nests leave behind are excellent, ready-made dwellings for other animals. Full-color photos of birds in charred trees and scientists in the field are interspersed among pages of large-print, clearly written text describing not only bird life but also the scientists' research process and the complicated ecology of managing forests after wildfires. Collard asserts that the majority of approaches to forest management everything from spending millions of dollars to prevent naturally occurring forest fires to turning swaths of forest into tree farms after a burn are not ecologically sound. Though some minor editing fumbles are irksome, the clear focus on ecology and critical-thinking skills is a plus.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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