Logo IMG
HOME > ON THE BOOKSHELF > March-April 2002 > Bookshelf Detail


The Sadness of Marshes: An Excerpt from The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes

Click to Enlarge Image

In the evening, returned to the river, I enter a good blind with a wire-mesh roof strewn lightly with sticks, where I listen for a while to the spring redwings and a solitary cardinal, setting up his territory from a perch in an old cottonwood by the water. Soon a horn note comes downwind from a sky losing its light, and within minutes, the first thousand cranes are circling the river woods and gliding down into cropland and meadow, from where they will make the short flight to the channels. Soon the legions come straight in, many thousands at a time, filling the river dusk with yelps and beating wings; the birds are still falling as the darkness comes, falling among black limbs of old broken cottonwoods, falling until bar and shallow are shrouded in shifting shapes, the nearest scarcely fifty feet away. Already some are quiet. They drink from the silver glitter of the braid as evening deer step out from the night willow and move in peaceful silhouette among them.

From The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes
Peter Matthiessen
Paintings and drawings by Robert Bateman
North Point Press, $27.50


Connect With Us:

    Pinterest Icon Google+ Icon Twitter Icon Facebook Icon Sm

Pizza Lunch Podcasts

African Penguins"Penguins are 10 times older than humans and have been here for a very, very long time," said Daniel Ksepka, Ph.D., a North Carolina State University research assistant professor. Dr. Ksepka researches the evolution of penguins and how they came to inhabit the African continent.

Because penguins have been around for over 60 million years, their fossil record is extensive. Fossils that Dr. Ksepka and his colleagues have discovered provide clues about migration patterns and the diversity of penguin species.

Click the Title to view all of our Pizza Lunch Podcasts!

Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!

  • Sigma Xi SmartBrief:

    A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.

  • American Scientist Update

  • An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns, Science Observers and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.

  • Scientists' Nightstand

  • News of book reviews published in American Scientist and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.

    To sign up for automatic emails of the American Scientist Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an online profile, then sign up in the My AmSci area.


Subscribe to American Scientist