Friday, 26 June 2015

Old Blue: the Rarest Bird in the World

Old Blue: the Rarest Bird in the World (1993, revised edition. 2014) Mary Taylor, Scholastic NZ, 32 pages, paperback, $19.50
ISBN 978 1 77543 237 1

The black robin had become the rarest bird in the world. Only a miracle could save it from extinction.”

Old Blue was first published in 1993. Now a beautifully-presented redesigned and updated edition allows a new generation to appreciate this award-winning picture book and its unlikely hero and heroine. The hero is Don Merton of the NZ Wildlife Service (supported, as Stewart makes clear, by colleagues and Chatham Islanders) who led the effort to save the black robin. At their lowest ebb only five black robins survive but one of them is the indomitable Old Blue.
With detailed text and sumptuous illustrations, Stewart shows the marvellous success story of how these tiny birds were preserved from extinction by transferring the birds to Mangere Island and carrying out a complex swapping of eggs to foster-nests.  This inspiring true story concludes with a timely reminder of the threat of extinction facing many other New Zealand species.

Trevor Agnew

This review was first published on 14th March 2015 in Your Weekend magazine.

No comments: