SCIENCES

The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds

Basic Books. Apr. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781541618190. $30. NAT HIST
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Natural history writer Dunn (Orchid Summer) has been drawn to hummingbirds since childhood. With this latest work, he has written an engaging history of the species while also shedding insight into why people, such as John James Audubon and Henry David Thoreau, have been astonished by them. Over a number of years, Dunn traveled from the Arctic Circle to the southern tip of South America in order to observe, discover, and learn more about hummingbirds, a unique and colorful species only found in the Americas. This inviting narrative describes the author’s search for the rare Mangrove Hummingbird in Costa Rica, as well as others threatened with habitat loss in Cuba and Mexico. Along the way, he also details the rise and fall of the fake Harlequin Hummingbird, and the history of bird fraud. Notably, the author takes care to consider the place of hummingbirds in the history, literature, and cultures of their locales. Dunn writes passionately about climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, and unchecked development—all the work of humans—on hummingbird populations. For Dunn, mankind is inextricably linked to hummingbirds and their fate.
VERDICT An essential book for bird watchers, especially hummingbird lovers, as well as anyone interested in natural history.

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