I am thrilled today to offer an excerpt from Kathleen Kaska's marvelous book about Robert Porter Allen, one of our environmental heroes. Kathleen has offered to give away one copy of her book - she will choose the winner randomly from those who leave comments. Check out Kathleen's links, too - especially her blog. I've been reading it since it began. Good stuff! ~ Sheila
The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane:
The Robert Porter Allen Story
by Kathleen Kaska
|Whooping cranes who currently
on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
in Texas. Photo courtesy of Mike Sloat.
It was April 17, 1948 in the early hours of a muggy Texas morning on the Gulf Coast. The sun at last burned away the thick fog that had settled over Blackjack Peninsula. The world’s last flock of wild whooping cranes had spent the winter feeding on blue crab and killifish in the vast salt flats they called home. During the night, all three members of the Slough Family had moved to feed on higher ground about two miles away from their usual haunt. The cool, crisp winter was giving way to a warm balmy spring, the days were growing longer, and territorial boundaries were no longer defended. Restlessness had spread throughout the flock.
As Robert Porter Allen drove along East Shore Road near Carlos Field in his government issued beat-to-hell pickup, he spotted the four cranes now spiraling a thousand feet above the marsh. He pulled his truck over to the roadside and watched, hoping to witness, for the first time, a migration takeoff. One adult crane pulled away from the family and flew northward, whooping as it rose on an air current. When the others lagged behind, the crane returned, the family regrouped, circled a few times and landed in the cordgrass in the shallows of San Antonio Bay. It was Allen’s second year at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. He had learned to read the nuances of his subjects almost as well as they read the changing of the seasons.
In the days preceding, twenty-four cranes left for their summer home somewhere in Western Canada, possibly as far north as the Arctic Circle. This annual event, which had been occurring for at least 10,000 years, might be one of the last unless Allen could accomplish what no one else had.
Read about what prompted Kaska to write the book at On Writing About Robert Porter Allen and Whooping Cranes
Kathleen Kaska, writer of fiction, nonfiction, stage plays, and travel articles has just completed her most challenging endeavor. The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane, a true story set in the 1940s and 50s, is about Audubon ornithologist Robert Porter Allen whose mission was to journey into the Canadian wilderness to save the last flock of whooping cranes before development wiped out their nesting site, sending them into extinction. Published by University Press of Florida and released in 2012, the book has been nominated for the George Perkins Marsh Award for environmental history. Kaska also writes the award-wining Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series and the Classic Triviography Mystery Series.
Want to learn more about the whooping crane, check out the following websites?