There are only a small number of bird families that are so memorable that you can easily remember exactly when and where you have seen them - and the Crane family is one of these. If you've never seen a crane of any type then seriously think about visiting France or Spain this winter and if you go to the right place you will see maybe 10,000 Common Cranes which spend the winter in huge flocks. Whether they are in huge numbers or just in a tiny flock, for me they are just magical.
This book is a Canadian production written by Janice Hughes of Lakehead University in Ontario. There are 15 species in the Crane family and it is a truly universal group that can be found in all the main continents around the world and each is described briefly with a distribution map and two pages of general information. There is also a lengthy chapter looking into crane
But despite its title, this book is really about the Whooping Crane which breeds in a remote part of Canada and then migrates to the Texas coastline for the winter. No less than 154 pages are devoted to telling the story of how the species declined over the centuries to recover dramatically with a huge amount of help from conservationists. Historical photographs illustrating how it became fashionable for ladies to wear the feather of a Whooping Crane on their hats mirror the way that in Europe the Little Egret was plundered. Unlike the Little Egret, the Whooping Crane was also a favourite target for sports hunters.
It is a well-known story, and the recovery of the Whooping Crane is well-documented elsewhere. In 1941 there were only about 20 of the birds left, but over time, with protection of the nesting sites and wintering grounds - and with the introduction of hand-reared birds, the population gradually came back from the brink of extinction. Now it is possible to see well over one hundred Whooping Cranes in a day at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
This book is illustrated with many photographs - most of which are of good quality. If you are interested in the amazing recovery of the Whooping Crane you will enjoy it. If you bought this book thinking that it was all about the world's cranes you may be disappointed. For anyone looking for the latter I can thoroughly recommend another relatively new book - The Magic of Cranes by Carl-Albrecht von Treuenfels, published by Abrams.