Synopses & Reviews
Each spring, formations of sandhill cranes crisscross the skies along Nebraskaandrsquo;s Platte River in one of the last great migratory spectacles on the North American continent. From across the globe, tens of thousands of visitors gather to witness a land transformed, andldquo;wild with birds.andrdquo; But the central Platte River system is witness to even more than this wondrous annual event. It is also an abiding source of natural, agricultural, and economic life in three states as an icon of western history and as a place of wonder. In This River Beneath the Sky, Doreen Pfost seamlessly blends memoir and nature writing, tracking the Platte River valley for one calendar year, ushering readers through its diverse and changing landscape and the plants, animals, and humans that call the ecosystem home.
From serving as a tour guide for visitors who come to see the sandhill crane migration to monitoring the population count on a bluebird trail, from exploring the human settlements surrounding the Platte River to wading the river with biologists, Pfost immerses herself in the rhythm and life of the area. Along with Pfostandrsquo;s personal experiences of the river, she explores the riverandrsquo;s history, the land- and water-use choices that were made decades ago and their repercussions that must now be mitigated if cranesandmdash;and other speciesandmdash;are to survive and flourish, and the legislative and scientific efforts to preserve the diverse species and their essential habitat.
and#8220;In keeping with his long and fascinating series of books about birds, Paul Johnsgard captures the drama of the greatest gathering of cranes on earthand#8212;the flocking in early spring of more than a half million sandhill cranes along the Platte River, Nebraska. This charming volume transmits that special magic when the cranes, springtime, and the river all meet on the Great Plains in the heart of North America.and#8221;and#8212;George Archibald, cofounder of the International Crane Foundation
Nature writer, communications consultant, and tour guide Pfostspotlights Nebraska’s Platte River valley. She waxes poetic in 12 essays (cycling from March to March) about her experiences, whichinclude, among other things, being there for spectacular Sandhill crane migrations, monitoring bluebird populations, exploring lifearound the Platte River--plant, animal and human--and relating the river’s history. In tune with the life of the river, she looks at therepercussions of decades-old decisions about land-and-water use choices as well as legislative and scientific efforts to preserve species and habitats.Annotation ©2016 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
"No one is better qualified than Johnsgard to discuss cranes both as objects of scientific study and as ancient, magical creatures. His lyrical description of the sandhills' spectacular spring staging in the Platte river valley will captivate all readers, particularly those unfamiliar with cranes."and#8212;Cynthia Knight, Library Journal Starred Review
"Johnsgard's books carry a personal touch that goes well beyond the science and lets us see a bit of the man himself.and#160;What Sandhill and Whooping Cranes does is allow him a chance to pause and look back in his rearview mirror, acknowledging a wide circle of friends young and old who he treasures and with whom he has shared the experience of cranes, sunsets and wild things over these many years."and#8212;Michael Forsberg, Prairie Fire
"Sandhill and Whooping Cranes: Ancient Voices Over America's Wetlands comes from an author who has spent nearly half a century observing cranes throughout the United States. . . . The author's own ink drawings accompanies a natural history and detailed guide to crane-viewing sites around the U.S. and Canada, making this a pick for any birding collection!"and#8212;James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review
"Libraries and individuals who own Johnsgard's Crane Music must get this update. Those that do not have either work must get both. . . . The author has returned to the birds that captured his heart, providing eloquent descriptions of the revered and elegant species of cranes."and#8212;C. G. Heister, Choice
"This charming, informative book has clearly been written by someone who truly understands and appreciates the magnificence of cranes."and#8212;Janice M. Hughes, Great Plains Research
andldquo;Doreen Pfostandrsquo;s personal homage to Nebraskaandrsquo;s Platte River is a powerful collection of twelve essays encompassing a year, bounded by its spring crane migration. They reveal a Willa Catherandndash;like affection for the place and its people and an Aldo Leopoldandndash;like capacity to describe its wildlife, especially the iconic sandhill cranes.andrdquo;andmdash;Paul A. Johnsgard, author of Seasons of the Tallgrass Prairie: A Nebraska Year
andldquo;This articulate and compelling account of the history of crane country in Nebraska follows the seasons over a landscape that hosts in spring the planetandrsquo;s greatest gathering of cranes. Doreen Pfost elegantly weaves together the story of these magnificent ambassadors for things wild and free in a part of our planet that humans have transformed in recent centuries, but where ancient wildlife spectacles still happen.andrdquo;andmdash;George Archibald, cofounder of the International Crane Foundationand#160;
Driving west from Lincoln to Grand Island, Nebraska, Paul A. Johnsgard remarks, is like driving backward in time. and#8220;I suspect,and#8221; he says, and#8220;that the migrating cranes of a preand#8211;ice age period some ten million years ago would fully understand every nuance of the crane conversation going on today along the Platte.and#8221;
and#160;Johnsgard has spent nearly a half century observing cranes, from a yearly foray to Nebraskaand#8217;s Platte River valley to see the spring migration, to pilgrimages to the birdsand#8217; wintering grounds in Arizona and nesting territory in Alaska. In this book he draws from his own extensive experience as well as the latest science to offer a richly detailed and deeply felt account of the ecology of sandhill and whooping cranes and the wetlands in which they live.
Incorporating current information on changing migration patterns, population trends, and breeding ranges, Johnsgard explains the life cycle of the crane, as well as the significance of these species to our natural world. He also writes frankly of the uncertain future of these majestic birds, as cranes and their habitats face the effects of climate change and increasing human population pressures. Illustrated with the authorand#8217;s own ink drawings and containing a detailed guide to crane-viewing sites in the United States and Canada, this book is at once an invaluable reference and an eloquent testimony to how much these birds truly mean.
About the Author
Paul A. Johnsgard is Foundation Regents Professor Emeritus in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraskaand#8211;Lincoln. He is the author of more than fifty books on natural history, including Crane Music: A Natural History of American Cranes and Those of the Gray Wind: The Sandhill Cranes, both available in Bison Books editions.