The Children's Book Compass

Fascinating Seabirds

Posted on: April 17, 2011

Seabird in the Forest: The Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet by Joan Dunning.  (2011)  Pages not numbered. Boyds Mills Press.  Grades 3-7.  Nonfiction.

Dunning hooked my interest on the first page of her detailed account of the life cycle of a marbled murrelet.  The ocean from the coast of Northern California into Alaska is the home of this small bird.  It floats and dives among the giant kelp pursuing tiny silver fish.  “The location of the nesting place of the marbled murrelet was the last of any bird in all of North America to be discovered.”  That nesting place was found high in the canopy of the coastal Redwoods, miles from the ocean.  The small bird raises it young 320 feet above the forest floor in these high trees.  Dunning tells the story of how the parents who mate for life raise their single chick over one month.  The author includes fascinating facts.  “Although a murrelet is only as big as a robin, it lays an egg that is nearly as big as a chicken’s.”  The adult bird “might fly a hundred mile round trip to deliver just one small fish to its chick.  Dunning also describes the ecosystem of the canopy in the redwood trees with animals and plants thriving high above the ground.  Sidebars add additional information and details to the story of how the chick survives finally flying to the ocean to begin the cycle again.  The paintings are detailed with varied perspectives that add to the information in the narrative.  The endpapers feature more facts about the Redwoods and the biologists who study them.  The back matter lists sources and web sites for future exploration.  Team this book with Redwoods by Jason Chin.

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