I had somehow missed Marjorie Valentine' Adams 2005 memoirs, Bird-Witched: How Birds Can Change a Life (Austin: University of Texas Press), when it first came out even though the Foreword is by a good acquaintance, Chuck Sexton, the biologist at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge where we do our field work.
It is a marvelous book, replete with anecdotes about Texas birding--and birding here is just about as good as anywhere north of the tropics. Anyone interested in birding, or in nature conservation in general, should take a look at it. I also have to thank her family for giving us access to her famous documentary film, "What Good is a Warbler?"co-directed with her late husband, Red Adams who, unforutnately, passed away while the book was in production. The film deserves even more recognition than it has received--which is a lot.
Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book are the chapters on our endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) and the efforts to develop the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Finding the details of the bird's winter habitat in Mesoamerica is a wonderful story of luck and perserverance. Being trapped there when the Chiapas revolt broke out just adds to the fun.
The book goes into some detail about the conservation plans for this bird and seven other endangered species in the Balcones Canyonlands which led the formation of the Preserve and the Refuge. It really drives home the old point that trreating habitat well, and protecting species while they are still relatively abundant, is a lot less expensive proposition than allowing it to fall under the purview of the Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, preventive conservation continues to be hard to sell to the US Congress and State Legislatures and the Democrats are little better than the Republicans.