Join Village Books and the North Cascades Institute as we welcome Olympia-based writer Maria Mudd Ruth for her new book, Rare Bird. Part naturalist detective story, part environmental inquiry, this vibrant narrative celebrates the fascinating world of an endangered seabird that depends on the contested old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest for its survival. “This chunky little seabird stole my heart.” So confesses Ruth, a veteran nature writer who gets swept up in the strange story of the marbled murrelet. This winged curiosity flies like a little brown bullet at up to 100 miles an hour and lives most of its life offshore—only seen near land during breeding season, when the female lays a single egg high on a mossy tree limb in ancient coastal forests.
Ruth traces the bird’s history from tribal legends to sightings in 1778 during Captain Cook’s third voyage to attempts by naturalists who, for almost 200 years, failed to piece together clues to the whereabouts of the bird’s nest. She adventures to coastal meadows before dawn and the ocean at midnight in an effort to spot this mysterious bird firsthand, and interviews all the major players in the attendant conservation drama: timber company executives, fishing fleet operators, and the so-called cowboy scientists devoted to saving the marbled murrelet from extinction.
Maria Mudd Ruth has written more than a dozen books on natural history topics for children, young adults, and adults. She first encountered the marbled murrelet in 1999 while living in Virginia. She moved her family to Southern California in 2001 to be closer to murrelet habitat while researching and writing Rare Bird. In 2006 she moved her family again, this time to Olympia, WA, where she is happily pursuing the mystery of clouds for her next book. Visitwww.mariaruthbooks.com for more.