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Waiting for a Warbler


Waiting for a Warbler



North American songbird populations have declined by 3 billion since 1970. In this story, a family transforms their yard to make a refuge for birds.


Owen’s family has planted native shrubs, trees, and perennials around their house, providing food and habitat for the birds Owen loves. He hopes to see a rare Cerulean warbler—perhaps the same one that visited last year.


In early April, as Owen and his sister search the hickories, oaks, and dogwoods for returning birds, a huge group of birds leaves the misty mountain slopes of the Yucatan peninsula for the 600-mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico to their summer nesting grounds. One of them is a Cerulean warbler. He will lose more than half his body weight even if the journey goes well. Aloft over the vast ocean, the birds encourage each other with squeaky chirps that say, “We are still alive. We can do this.”


Owen’s family watches televised reports of a great storm over the Gulf of Mexico, fearing what it may mean for migrating songbirds. In alternating spreads, we wait and hope with Owen, then struggle through the storm with the warbler.


This moving story with its hopeful ending appeals to us to preserve the things we love. The back- matter includes a North American bird migration map, birding information for kids, and guidance for how native plantings can transform yards into bird and wildlife habitat.

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