Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Numenia and the Hurricane

Numenia and the Hurricane: Inspired by a True Migration Story

I’ll start by saying this is a book I would have loved to have written. We were living in Rockport, TX during Hurricane Harvey. While my family and pets evacuated, many birds could not, and I learned how hard it was for birds to survive a storm. When we returned to the devastated area, it was heartbreaking to see the avian carnage. Pelicans had been slammed against the jetties and seawalls, where their carcasses decayed. Many of the migratory birds left but native birds didn't know to go and died. Thankfully, hummingbirds had not started their fall migration and were fine, although people had to step in to feed them as most plants were defoliated. For three months we didn’t see even a grackle or a dove. But slowly, the birds returned. Numenia and the Hurricane is a somewhat different hurricane story and one with a happier ending.

During a hurricane, strong winds blow birds off their path, often leading them to new places or wearing them out so that they don't have to stamina to follow their original path.

Inspired by the true story of Hope, a whimbrel being tracked by scientists, Halliday tells the harrowing tale of a lone whimbrel, separated from her sisters during their southward migration from the Arctic. Lyrical lines of text help us to feel for the poor bird as she is tossed and turned, battered by the strong winds. Readers learn that Numenia preservers for 27 hours, alone, until finally, somehow, with good natural instincts but plenty of wrong turns, she makes it to the US Virgin Islands, tired and hungry, but safe with her sisters. 

Hope with her tracking device. 
Photo Credit: Barry Truitt.

As explained in the end notes, Numeria’s story is based on a bird named Hope, caught in Tropical Storm Gert and blown way off course in 2011. Hope was tracked by researchers for several years, allowing them to marvel at the whimbrel’s stamina and fortitude during many courageous migration journeys. Like Numeria’s story, her journey was amazing but one that many birds face each year during their journey between winter and summer habitats. The Whimbrel’s range is rather limited, but they travel each year between Canada and the Eastern and Southern US coasts, as well as into the Caribbean.

Halliday’s art is visually stunning and allows the reader to feel like they are inside the hurrican bouncing along with Numenia. Interesting perspective and angles give us a birds-eye view of the danger and confusion this small bird faces. With great illustrations and text, this is a great choice for read-aloud. Halliday is an accomplished birder and naturalist and I hope this is the first of many bird books we’ll see from her.

Click on the tab for BOOKS ABOUT BIRDS for a list of all books mentioned in the blog posts.

FTC Notice: The author provided me with an electronic copy of the book to review.

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