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Birdlife of the Gulf of Mexico
By Joanna Burger
Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Reviewed by Bill Karnofsky

If you were ever looking for a treasure trove of information about the birdlife around and on the Gulf of Mexico, this is THE book. I reside in Florida. Our total west coast borders the Gulf of Mexico.  Any Florida birder or birder who lives in, or travels to, any of the states bordering the Gulf (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas) will value what this book has to offer if they have more than a modicum of interest in the almost 400 species of birds that migrate to or over the Gulf, that winter along the Gulf, and those that are year-round residents. It explains how critical the Gulf is to the survival of not only a lot of individual birds, but of whole species.

This book should be available to, and used by, every individual located in any of the Gulf’s surrounding states, who works for any Federal, State or Local department responsible for the environment, wildlife preservation and protection, as well as civil engineers and builders whose work takes them to the surrounding areas of the Gulf.

The book does not focus on extinction, to the contrary, its purpose is to aid in and encourage sustainability. Without the various healthy environments such as marshes, mudflats, beach sand, and nearby upland forests, not to mention clean water, both fresh and salt, many of the hundreds of species that migrate to and over the gulf, could be put in jeopardy of surviving.

This book is chock full of information about the overall use of the Gulf by the members of the avian world. It reports the current and trending conditions in the various areas surrounding the Gulf. I cannot tell you how much I learned from the in-depth and fascinating information on the thirteen-indicator species selected to be studied as time goes on.  It shed light on the overall health of all the different environments of the Gulf. The author brings together data on each of these thirteen species from as far back as the 1930s and 1940s. Her presentations make it easy to see how the populations have grown, decreased, and even rebounded to previous levels. Of interest to me, one of the many sources of dependable data she uses, is from the Audubon Christmas Counts. Having been on many of these, it is heartening to see just how useful and important the gathering of the data from those counts, over the past 100 years, is being put to good use.





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