A captivating drama from the frontlines of the race to save birds set against the devastating loss of one third of the avian population.
Three years ago, headlines delivered shocking news: nearly three billion birds in North America have vanished over the past fifty years. No species has been spared, from the most delicate jeweled hummingbirds to scrappy black crows, from a rainbow of warblers to common birds such as owls and sparrows.
In a desperate race against time, scientists, conservationists, birders, wildlife officers, and philanthropists are scrambling to halt the collapse of species with bold, experimental, and sometimes risky rescue missions. High in the mountains of Hawaii, biologists are about to release clouds of laboratory-bred mosquitos in a last-ditch attempt to save Hawaii’s remaining native forest birds. In Central Florida, researchers have found a way to hatch Florida Grasshopper Sparrows in captivity to rebuild a species down to its last two dozen birds. In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a team is using artificial intelligence to save the California Spotted Owl. In North Carolina, a scientist is experimenting with genomics borrowed from human medicine to bring the long-extinct Passenger Pigeon back to life.
For the past year, veteran journalists Anders and Beverly Gyllenhaal traveled more than 25,000 miles across the Americas, chronicling costly experiments, contentious politics, and new technologies to save our beloved birds from the brink of extinction. Through this compelling drama, A Wing and a Prayer offers hope and an urgent call to action: Birds are dying at an unprecedented pace. But there are encouraging breakthroughs across the hemisphere and still time to change course, if we act quickly.
Anders Gyllenhaal was an investigative reporter at The Miami Herald and executive editor at The News & Observer, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis), and The Herald. He alsoserved as the editorial vice president for the McClatchy Company’s thirty newsrooms and 2,000 journalists. He served on the Pulitzer Prize board for nine years.
Beverly Gyllenhaal was a reporter, features writer, and food editor at The News & Observer and The Miami Herald. She coauthored a syndicated column that appeared in 100 newspapers around the US and produced three books with nearly half a million copies in print.