cover of book

The Kirtland's Warbler: The Story of a Bird's Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It
by William Rapai
University of Michigan Press, 2012
Cloth: 978-0-472-11803-8 | Paper: 978-0-472-03576-2 | eISBN: 978-0-472-02806-1
Library of Congress Classification QL696.P2438R37 2012
Dewey Decimal Classification 598.168


This book looks at the Kirtland’s warbler and wildlife conservation in a way that no other book has. It looks back on the history of this unique bird, examines the people and policies that kept the warbler from extinction, explores the cult of personality that surrounds it, and examines the challenges of the future—all through the eyes of the people who have acted so passionately on its behalf.

The story of the Kirtland’s warbler is a story of complex relationships between the bird and its environment, the humans who interact with it, and the complex government policies that affect it. And now, just when it appears that the Kirtland’s warbler has recovered for good, a change in its status may send the warbler’s population into a downward spiral once again.


William Rapai is president of Grosse Pointe Audubon Society and has traveled across North America and to Cuba, Iceland, and Thailand to view and research birds. He was an award-winning reporter and editor for the Grand Forks Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Boston Globe. This is his first book.


"This well-told story of the endangered Kirtland's Warbler…is filled with many heroes and much inspiration."

— BirdWatching, BirdWatching

"The population recovery of Kirtland’s Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) is one of the most fascinating success stories of an endangered species in the past 60 years. ... By including the human dimension of recovery efforts, this book keeps the reader involved throughout what ends up being a catalogue of management and research accomplishments."
 ---The Auk— Deahn M. Donner, The Auk


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