Looking something like a parrot crossed with a football, there are just over a hundred Kakapo alive today. With honey scented feathers, the heaviest of all the parrots lives in burrows on the ground and cannot fly or speak, but they make a variety of vocalizations like purring, booming, and clicking. In Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop travel to a remote island off of New Zealand to chronicle the desperate battle volunteers and scientists are waging to protect the tiny population and try to find some way to find a future with a more stable Kakapo population.
The story of the Kakapo is partly the story of the world and how even the small things that we don’t see or realize can lead to destruction, and how sometimes even all of us together working are powerless to repair the damage. New Zealand, set apart from Australia, was a land of birds, big, little, and strange, most of them flightless, with few predators and few mammals. Until the Maori, and later the Europeans, came and brought hoards of alien organisms that relatively quickly drove one native species after another to extinction. Now rats to rabbits to rabid livestock and pets, over-run the largest parts of the two islands, forcing scientists turn to ever more remote islands to create sanctuaries where native species can be safe.
On Codfish Island, all of the drama, tragedy, triumph and sacrifice play out during the short 10 day stay Montgomery and Bishop were allowed on this protected island. Bishop’s photographs are a stunning glimpse into a world few are able to visit, and Montgomery’s text will bring the experience to life, with all its highs and lows. Read Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot to gain a glimpse of these amazing creatures and those who struggle tirelessly to save them.
In 2011 this wonderful book won the Sibert Medal for best informational book published in 2010. You can find more information on the Kakapo at http://www.kakaporecovery.org.nz/index.php The author and photographer have also teamed up for other Scientists in the Field books. I wrote this up for a book talk for my earth day visit to the fourth graders.