The Great Auk is one of the world's most famous extinct birds. It was undoubtedly a most curious creature: a flightless bird with tiny wings, it stood upright like a human, and sported an enormous beak. On land, the Great Auk was clumsy and awkward, but it was perfectly adapted for swift andefficient movement in the sea, where it spent the large part of the year. In its heyday, it populated the North Atlantic, from Western Europe across to North America, and was a familiar sight to islanders and coastal dwellers when, each May, it would climb ashore for the short breeding season. Yetby the mid-nineteenth century sightings of the bird were but rare occurrences, and just a few decades later even the most assiduous Victorian explorers could not find it. So what happened to the Great Auk? What - or who - caused it to disappear from the northern oceans? Jeremy A. Gaskell draws oneyewitness accounts spanning some four centuries to relate the tale of the Great Auk's extinction. He tells how the Great Auk was hunted by sailors, coastal dwellers, and merchants for its ample flesh, its eggs, and its soft down. He shows how the fate of the Great Auk was inextricably bound up withthe prevailing social, economic, and political conditions of the late 18th century. It was also a result of widespread scientific misapprehensions about the nature and geographical range of this mysterious seabird. The disappearance of the Great Auk had a considerable impact on the publicimagination of the late 19th Century. Specimens of the birds or their eggs soon began to fetch astronomical prices among collectors. Charles Kingsley used the last Great Auk as a character in The Water Babies. It became the stuff of legend. More importantly, its plight keenly interested a number ofgreat Victorian ornithologists, men like John Wolley, Alfred Newton, and John James Audubon. Later, these self-same men were to cause some of the very first legislation on seabird protection to come into place. As a result this is also the story of the beginnings of bird conservation. Thisintriguing book takes the reader on a tour of some of the wildest and coldest places on earth, in its attempt to uncover the history of the last days of the Great Auk. We travel with Audubon to Labrador, sail to the remote Scottish island of St Kilda, experience the hardship of life in the coloniesof Newfoundland, and follow the peregrinations of intrepid naturalists as they put to sea in search of the very last of the Great Auks. The text is enhanced by numerous maps, photographs, and line drawings, and includes a fine original colour frontispiece by Jan Wilczur.
I was the great auk, a bird. Here is my story. We were a bit like the penguin. Like penguins, we were black and white. The blackness covered our heads and stretched down our backs. The white covered our chests. Many of us had a white patch on our face above our eye. White stripes raced across our strong black bills. Oh we were proud of those bills. They were over four inches long (11 centimetres) and they curved down a bit at the end. Deep white grooves cut across them, up to seven on the top and as many as twelve on the bottom! At least that's how they looked in winter. In summer the stripes were fewer. Find out more about the great auk, what they looked like, how they lived, and how they became extinct in this short 15-minute book. Ages 8 and up. All measurements in American and metric. Reading level: 2.9 LearningIsland.com believes in the value of children practicing reading for 15 minutes every day. Our 15-Minute Books give children lots of fun, exciting choices to read, from classic stories, to mysteries, to books of knowledge. Many books are appropriate for hi-lo readers. Open the world of reading to a child by having them read for 15 minutes a day.
WINNER OF THE EDGE HILL SHORT STORY PRIZE 2016 SHORTLISTED FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES/PFD YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD 2016 'Greengrass is undoubtedly that rare thing, a genuinely new and assured voice in prose. Her work is precise, properly moving, quirky and heartfelt' A. L. Kennedy The twelve stories in this startling collection range over centuries and across the world. There are stories about those who are lonely, or estranged, or out of time. There are hauntings, both literal and metaphorical; and acts of cruelty and neglect but also of penance. Some stories concern themselves with the present, and the mundane circumstances in which people find themselves: a woman who feels stuck in her life imagines herself in different jobs - as a lighthouse keeper in Wales, or as a guard against polar bears in a research station in the Arctic. Some stories concern themselves with the past: a sixteenth-century alchemist and doctor, whose arrogance blinds him to people's dissatisfaction with their lives until he experiences it himself. Finally, in the title story, a sailor gives his account - violent, occasionally funny and certainly tragic - of the decline of the Great Auk.
A book for professional and amateur ornithologists, students in ecology and animal behaviour. The Arctic is one of the world's last great wildernesses: a place of outstanding beauty, history and extraordinary wildlife in which seabirds form an important component of a rich, marine environment. Like many other remote regions, it is under threat from human activities, but to protect it we need to understand it. That understanding can come only through scientific research and the central threat of this book is to examine how such research is actually done. It describes the business of conducting biological studies on seabirds in remote parts of eastern Canada. Several themes are engagingly interwoven: the sheer beauty of the Arctic environment, the intriguing biology of its wildlife, and the discovery and exploitation of enormous seabird colonies, including the destruction of the Great Auk. Tim Birkhead describes in personal detail the different facets of research and brings to life both the difficulties and the excitement of working in the Arctic. What is it like setting up a camp for four months on a remote and uninhabited island not far from the North Pole? How does it feel to commute daily by inflatable boat amidst icebergs to study-areas located on towering cliffs, set between ice-blue glaciers? What do you do when a Polar bear decides that you have invaded its Arctic home? Why are the seabird colonies in the high Arctic so enormous? What do we know about lifestyle of the extinct Great Auk? In 1992 Canada's legendary cod fishery was finally destroyed - what are the consequences of this for other wildlife? These are just a few of the questions dealt with in this book. Our future as a species depends upon science and the understanding it brings of the world we live in. The work of scientists often appears obscure, but in this book, Tim Birkhead has used his experience of seven summers in the Arctic to write an accessible and straightforward account of how research is actually done in the field. The text is enriched by David Quinn's illustrations, and by numerous photographs in both black and white, and colour.
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For hundreds of thousands of years Great Auks thrived in the icy seas of the North Atlantic, bobbing on the waves, diving for fish and struggling up onto rocky shores to mate and hatch their fluffy chicks. But by 1844, not a single one of these magnificent birds was alive. In this stunningly illustrated non-fiction picture book, award-winning author and illustrator Jan Thornhill tells the tragic story of these birds that “weighed as much as a sack of potatoes and stood as tall as a preteen’s waist.” Their demise came about in part because of their anatomy. They could swim swiftly underwater, but their small wings meant they couldn’t fly and their feet were so far back on their bodies, they couldn’t walk very well. Still the birds managed to escape their predators much of the time … until humans became seafarers. Great Auks were pursued first by Vikings, then by Inuit, Beothuk and finally European hunters. Their numbers rapidly dwindled. They became collectors’ items — their skins were stuffed for museums, to be displayed along with their beautiful eggs. (There are some amazing stories about these stuffed auks — one was stolen from a German museum during WWII by Russian soldiers; another was flown to Iceland and given a red-carpet welcome at the airport.) Although undeniably tragic, the final demise of the Great Auk led to the birth of the conservation movement. Laws were eventually passed to prevent the killing of birds during the nesting season, and similar laws were later extended to other wildlife species.