Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2010


Published in Great Plains Research 20.1 (Spring 2010): 137-38.


Copyright 2010 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


Janice Hughes’s research has mostly involved evolutionary studies of cuckoo-like birds. Thus I would not have expected her to produce what is easily the best account of America’s effort to save from extinction the whooping crane, one of our rarest and, arguably, most beautiful birds. Over the years there have been several book-length accounts of these efforts, by authors such as Robert Doughty, J.J. McCoy, Faith McNulty, and Jerome Pratt. None of these is as complete, as well written, or as compelling as this book. Additionally, it is the most up-to-date, bringing the story of the whooping crane’s recovery program up to the late summer of 2006. By then there were some 146 individuals in captivity, and 354 wild birds—a remarkable number considering that in 1941 only 16 birds existed in the world.