By Guest Blogger Dudley Carlson
capturing a newly fledged osprey for tagging with a radio transmitter. Invited to watch, the two youngsters become fascinated and begin two years of following the travels of this individual bird as online reports come back from the transmitter.
As he follows the young osprey’s first foray over the open ocean and then traces her progress from Massachusetts down the Atlantic, through a Caribbean hurricane to Colombia and across the mountains to the Amazon and Brazil, where she spends 18 months, Bierregaard inserts information about the life cycle of this amazing raptor and about what scientists are learning for the first time through new technology. Belle’s journey is brought to life through beautiful illustrations in lush colors. Also included is an illustration by one of the children in the story, who was inspired to use ospreys in her art classwork while her brother based his science project on Belle’s travels.
For housebound kids looking for distraction, the SFBBO booklist (https://www.sfbbo.org/kids-bird-book-recommendations.html) includes a number of related titles. Dorothy Hinshaw Patent’s The Call of the Osprey follows scientists in Montana studying ospreys to learn about the impacts of pollution. Carol Lerner’s On the Wing looks at migration as a process, why and how it occurs and why only some birds migrate. And perhaps the best book written about an individual is Philip Hoose’s Moonbird, which follows the migrations of a Rufous Red Knot from the Canadian arctic to southern Argentina and back. Other titles on migration and migrants are also listed.
There is also a live nest cam on Hog Island, Maine (https://explore.org/livecams/ospreys/osprey-nest) that may lead young osprey-watchers to other species. Nest-cams are another great way to spark interest in youngsters and to occupy them when they’re bored with staying indoors. And if they’re curious about the birds out the window, there’s also Cornell’s All About Birds website (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/), a great place to learn more. At the back of Belle’s Journey, Dr. Bierregaard gives other sites where readers may follow ospreys and other birds. But beware! Be prepared to fill requests for binoculars when the holidays or birthdays come around again.
SFBBO member Dudley Carlson, a biologist’s daughter, grew up in a family of birders and was Manager of Youth Services at Princeton (NJ) Public Library for 25 years. She believes that if children enjoy learning about birds and understand how important they are to our environment, then birds, nature and people will have a better chance at a healthy future.
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