... gripping ... The success of A World on the Wing in navigating that challenge rivals the astonishing feats of the birds [Weidensaul] chronicles ... Those feats and the jaw-dropping science behind them form the heart of the book ... Since the days when he first wrote about the subject, Weidensaul by his own account has steadily been drawn from the role of observer to participant in the hands-on science of migration. This allows him to give us portraits of the scientists and concerned community members alongside whom he has manned the barricades, trying to understand the losses in bird populations and stem them ... Along with the conservation success stories, this constitutes the most hopeful aspect of the book: that better technology and the metadata of the Information Age have made new insights possible and created the opportunity for effective, targeted solutions to the ills plaguing our migratory birds ... All of this ecological focus, written accessibly without sacrificing an iota of the science, still might have made for some dry reading, if not for Weidensaul’s knack for evocative passages and immersive scenes ... At its best, A World on the Wing brims with spectacle ... The passion Weidensaul brings to these scenes is personal ... As the birds flit through these pages, but with ever less frequency through our lives, we can only hope that birders and non-birders alike take inspiration and a call to action from A World on the Wing. This is the kind of book we’ve been waiting for.
There is no one better at dressing the natural-history stage than Mr. Weidensaul. His prose is front-loaded with visual, aural and olfactory information that place the reader at his side, wherever he goes ... Mr. Weidensaul takes us to places we’ll likely never go, then deftly steps back to let us experience the scene. In an era when travel, for most, has sputtered to a stop, A World on the Wing is a bracing tonic. The author slips in facts and figures so painlessly, so richly embedded in emotional context, that you can absorb and truly appreciate their import. Soon you begin to understand that the life cycles of many birds demand that they routinely traverse half of the globe or more ... But the book is more than a celebration of astonishing avian feats. Chapter after chapter reveal the giant leaps in knowledge that occur when miniaturization and GPS technology are applied to the legs and backs of birds ... a paean to the beauty of data, viewed in masses, and to citizen science taking ornithology by storm ... Mr. Weidensaul offers the astonishment of birds’ travels, deep concern for their populations and hope for their future in well-measured, beautifully realized doses.
The book is packed with these awesome tales ... As much as the book is upbeat and celebratory, Weidensaul is fearless in describing the acute challenges that face the birds he loves ... a superb globe-trotting survey of avian restlessness that reaches one core conclusion. Migrants may seem like here-today-gone-tomorrow nomads but they are really inhabitants of a single place and one living system, on which they and humans depend equally: the entire Earth.