On remote Codfish Island off the southern coast of New Zealand live the last ninety-one kakapo parrots on earth. These trusting, flightless, and beautiful birdsthe largest and most unusual parrots on earthhave suffered devastating population loss.
Now, on an island refuge with the last of the species, New Zealand’s National Kakapo Recovery Team is working to restore the kakapo population. With the help of fourteen humans who share a single hut and a passion for saving these odd ground-dwelling birds, the kakapo are making a comeback in New Zealand.
Follow intrepid animal lovers Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop on a ten-day excursion to witness the exciting events in the life of the kakapo.
What's a kakapo? It is a heavy, flightless parrot with moss-green feathers and a smell like that of honey that is on the brink of extinction. Author Montgomery and photographer Bishop have a ten-day pass to visit Codfish Islandjust south of New Zealandto report on the devoted rangers, technical support officers, and volunteers of the National Kakapo Recovery Team, who are attempting to save these unique birds that have dwindled down to a population of only eighty-seven. Since humans and introduced predators have devastated New Zealand's native wildlife, few people are allowed to visit the isolated island; every item taken there must be disinfected. Distressingly, no one knows exactly when the parrots will decide to breed. The writer and photographer share the recovery team's daily life, watch the careful preparation of feed, tracking of the birds by telemetry, and the meticulous weighing and data-keeping of precious eggs when they appear. Each parrot has its own personality; the reporters are privileged to observe several of them closely, to help track a female. They share not only the team's sorrow when one chick and an adult male die unexpectedly, but also their exultation when an egg cracks and a new chick hatches. Bishop's lushly beautiful photographs help readers explore the island's trees, ferns, and mosses as well as other birds and wildlife. Teens hoping for a career in conservation science will surely find this well-designed "Scientists in the Field" volume appealing, as will any reader susceptible to the poignancy of a fascinating species so vulnerable and so irreplaceable. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft