A Beach for the Birds (book cover)

A Beach for the Birds

Hardcover: Available

Bruce's Twenty-ninth Book
1993 - Houghton
Hardcover ISBN 0-395-64050-4
Personal Note
Awards and Honors

"The brilliant action shots are enough to lure kids into a nature watch of their own."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June 1993

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Awards and Honors

Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children - National Science Teachers Association / Children's Book Council
, 1993

A John Burroughs Nature Book for Young Readers, 1993
The John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers
The John Burroughs Association

Pointer Review, Kirkus Reviews, 1993

Recommended Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 1993

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"When traveling, their light but firm flight is wonderfully sustained, and on hearing and seeing them on such occasions one is tempted to believe them to be the happiest of the happy."
John James Audubon on the Least Tern

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Personal Note

I often got up in the dark to be at the beach with my cameras from sunrise to sunset. I was so engrossed with photographing the tern behavior that I often forgot to stop for lunch. I made up for that after the book was published. It was an honor to attend the John Burroughs awards luncheon at American Museum of Natural History Library, surrounded by the original art of John James Audubon hanging on the walls.

The courting and mating sequence in the book also appeared in a two page spread in Natural History magazine, June 6, 1993. I still can't believe that I was able to capture those moments. I crawled on my stomach with a long and weighty 600 mm lens mounted on my camera. They were distracted enough in what they were doing not to notice me.

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Hint: Choose "open/play" and not "save-to-disk" if asked.

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When watching Least Terns, "you look on with pleasure and are in no haste to depart," wrote John James Audubon. At that time, the early 1800s, there was an abundance of these "swallows of the sea." Today, both Least Terns and their Little Tern "cousins" can be found throughout the world, but they are scarce. Fewer than 150 Least Terns live in Maine. Here and elsewhere they are an endangered species.

Will the species survive? Can Least Terns, the smallest of all terns, live successfully, side by side, with people? Find out as you spend a summer on a Maine beach, a wildlife refuge for families of Least Terns. Experience the same pleasure that Audubon did as you get to know these elegant birds, the Least Terns, close-up.

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Kirkus Reviews
April 1, 1993

Pointer Review
"Inspiring: natural history at its best."

McMillan, Bruce.
A BEACH FOR THE BIRDS Photos by the author
Houghton Mifflin (40 pp.) $15.95 Apr. 1993 ISBN: 0-395-64050-4

In Kennebunk, Maine, endangered least terns find sanctuary on a beach where they can nest undisturbed by nearby vacationers. Since terns must keep their eggs cool by shielding them on hot days, privacy is essential to their survival. McMillan, best known for his award-winning concept books, includes dozens of such fascinating facts as he describes the characteristics and behavior of this graceful sea bird, skillfully relating them to his audience (with unobtrusive comparisons to children playing on the adjacent beach) and providing beautifully composed color photos - as many as four, harmoniously deployed, on each spread - for an evocative visual complement to the informative text. Specific, admirably detailed, lucid, well organized, inspiring: natural history at its best. A handy page of "Least Tern Facts" sums up statistics, range, etc; glossary; bibliography; index. (Nonfiction. 5+)

This copyrighted © review originally appeared in Kirkus Reviews and appears here with permission.

School Library Journal
April 1993

"Encourages a closer look at shore birds and emphasizes the importance of protecting their habitats."

McMillan, Bruce. A Beach for the Birds.
photos by author. 32p. bibliog. glossary. index. CIP.
Houghton. Apr. 1993.
Tr $15.95. ISBN 0-395-64050-4. LC 92-10920.

Gr 3-6 - While the title suggests that many shore birds will be discussed, this book is basically about the endangered Eastern Least Tern. Approaching an older audience than in most of his previous books, McMillan focuses on a particular colony of the birds that nest on the Maine coast. He successfully describes and documents in the numerous photos their behavior and physical characteristics, such as the distinguished black tip on the bill that appears during the summer. Clear explanations of courting and mating are presented, as well as interesting tidbits as to why the tern can drink salt water and easily walk on the sand. Full-color photographs of children fishing and splashing in the water and strolling along the beach parallel those of the Least Terns engaging in similar activities. Such juxtapositioning works better for younger readers. The text here is strong enough to stand alone; the glimpses of human activity distract reader's attention rather than enhancing the information. A Beach for the Birds nonetheless encourages a closer look at shore birds and emphasizes the importance of protecting their habitats. Diane Nunn, Richard E. Byrd Elementary School, Glen Rock, NJ

This copyrighted © review originally appeared in School Library Journal and appears here with permission. www.slj.com

April 1, 1993

"McMillan's photography is superb, as always, and make this more than just another endangered animal book. Amazing shots of birds diving for prey and creating scrapes in the sand for soon-to-be-laid eggs, as well as close-ups of young hatchlings, make this a worthy purchase. Good-quality paper and the surf and sand photos on the endpapers further add to the elegance of the layout. "

Journal Tribune
Biddeford, Maine
June 26, 1983

"Not just an in-depth look at a species of bird - it is also a reminder that the existence of some species is precarious."

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