Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2009 | Reviews

Listen - Leaving the High Ground

By UIAA Staff

A colorful new book celebrates the feathered visitors that enliven our world and our lives. A companion piece to the author's earlier work about common Midwestern birds, this new volume celebrates rare visitors such as the surf scoter, the greater prairie-chicken, and the lark sparrow that brighten Iowa scenes with their fleeting beauty.

Stunning watercolor depictions accompany text that describes the birds' life cycles, calls, appearance, habitat, food, and migration patterns. In the "Recommended Reading" section, Overcott also offers a thorough guide to online resources, other books, journals, and bird-related organizations that are useful for beginning to experienced birders. She also shares some alarming facts: BirdLife International's 2006 report shows that more than a fifth of all species worldwide face extinction, while in the U.S. — according to the National Audubon Society — 25 percent of native species are suffering significant decline.

Perhaps one day — unless we heed conservationists' advice — all birds will be uncommon.

"[The] sudden bursts of bubbling spring songs reach our ears less frequently than they did only a couple of decades ago."