“A heart-stopping saga of the rescue from the very brink of extinction of one of the grandest of all birds.”—Thomas Lovejoy, president of the Amazon Biodiversity Center.
RETURN OF THE CONDOR is the riveting account of one of the most dramatic attempts to save a species from extinction in the history of modern conservation. Features a new Afterword by the author.
With the condor’s population down to only twenty-two birds in the 1980s and their very survival in doubt, the condor recovery team flouted conventional wisdom and pursued a controversial strategy to pull the bird back from the brink of extinction. Thus began the ongoing, decades-long program to reestablish America’s largest bird in its ancient home in Western skies.
Award-winning science writer John Moir takes readers into the backcountry to get to know the recovery program scientists as well as some of the individual condors. These are stories of peril, uncertainty, and controversy. Woven throughout these tales of heartbreak and triumph is the extraordinary dedication of the humans who have sometimes risked their lives for this charismatic, intelligent, and social bird.
Despite the program’s remarkable successes, the condor’s narrative is still unfolding with a number of challenges remaining. This includes the dilemma of lead poisoning among free-flying condors that is a major obstacle to the bird’s recovery.
The new Afterword presents a compelling examination of the progress and continuing adversity facing the condor recovery effort since the first edition of the book was published.
Finalist for the William Saroyan International Writing Prize
from the Stanford University Libraries
Honorable Mention from the National Association of Science Writers
John Moir is an environmental journalist who has been reporting on the condor’s story for more than 20 years. Moir has written for the New York Times, Smithsonian, Washington Post,Audubon, and many other publications. He is the author of two nonfiction books, has contributed to four anthologies, and has received more than two dozen writing awards.
“Audubon himself would be delighted to read John Moir’s exciting and authoritative account of the difficult, politically fraught but ultimately rewarding effort to save the largest of all the living birds, a great shadow in the sky above the Western range. I certainly was.”
“Return of the Condor is an account of cutting-edge conservation biology, but it is also an eminently human story. John Moir’s focus is on the problematic intersection between science and scientists, between bird lovers and the great bird itself. The subject matter—complex and controversial, ultimately heartwarming—demands a skilled and sympathetic writer, and Moir’s chronicle is thoroughly successful in this regard.”
“Moir deftly chronicles the efforts of the dedicated biologists . . . who work to save the California condor from extinction.”
“With eloquence and insight, John Moir chronicles the effort to save this spectacular bird. His book is a remarkable testament to what a few dedicated individuals can accomplish.”
“Moir, whose prize-winning story for Birding magazine grew into this book, tells of the salvation of the condor.”
“A heart-stopping saga of the rescue from the very brink of extinction of one of the grandest of all birds. Starting with page one, I was captured by Return of the Condor. America is the richer for the success of those who fought against all odds . . . and this tale is one all should read.”
“John Moir’s dramatic account of bringing the condor back from the brink of extinction is a reminder of the fragility of life on our planet and of the capacity of one species, humans, to protect or extinguish all others. Return of the Condor is a powerful tribute to the scientists, politicians, hunters, environmentalists, and concerned citizens who ultimately found a way to work together to ensure the survival of one of the most remarkable species on Earth.”
“The story grips our attention as a good novel does and will be enjoyed by birders, environmentalists, and curious laymen alike.”
“Pulling the California condor back from the brink of extinction has been difficult, and expensive. But this fine book by John Moir makes abundantly clear why preserving magnificent beings like our once-more wild condors is one of twenty-first-century society’s more important obligations.”
“A riveting, readable story of a bird’s rescue.”
“John Moir has written an uplifting and well-researched tale that takes us on the condor’s roller-coaster ride to recovery. Equally exhilarating and heartbreaking, this important story brings complex issues into clear focus and lets us understand—with both heart and mind—why we need to save this intelligent and majestic bird.”