On topics of nature and conservation, adults should sometimes turn their attention to children's books, some of which get to the point quickly and effectively. Bonnie brought home such a book, Fire Birds: Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests by Sneed B. Collard III. The author takes readers to Montana to follow University of Montana biology professor Dick Hutto through forests burned by wildfire to show that our society's ideas about forest fires have often been mistaken.
How can this be? Smokey the Bear told us to prevent forest fires. It turns out, and many of us discovered this in a big way in the 1980s when fire swept through Yellowstone National Park, suppressing small natural fires for decades contributes to hugely destructive fires in the future. Suppression of wildfire also inhibits growth of some plant and wildlife species that need periodic fires. Hutto shows how beneficial fire has been to Montana's birds.
Fire Birds is an attractive and informative book with many photos that let you feel as if you have been to Montana. I especially liked all the photos of woodpeckers, bluebirds, and other species that I want to see when I go to Glacier National Park later this year. (The black-backed woodpecker, western tanager, and mountain bluebird are on the book jacket.) I hope many children and their parents and grandparents find this book at the library.
Collard, Sneed B., III. Fire Birds: Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests. Bucking Horse Books, 2015. 48p. ISBN 9780984446070.