Michigan and the Great Lakes

The Kirtland's Warbler

The Story of a Bird's Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It
William Rapai

The story of the beautiful, gregarious Kirtland's warbler and the people who helped to save it


This book looks at the Kirtland’s warbler and wildlife conservation in a way that no other book has. It looks back on the history of this unique bird, examines the people and policies that kept the warbler from extinction, explores the cult of personality that surrounds it, and examines the challenges of the future—all through the eyes of the people who have acted so passionately on its behalf.

The story of the Kirtland’s warbler is a story of complex relationships between the bird and its environment, the humans who interact with it, and the complex government policies that affect it. And now, just when it appears that the Kirtland’s warbler has recovered for good, a change in its status may send the warbler’s population into a downward spiral once again.

William Rapai is president of Grosse Pointe Audubon Society and has traveled across North America and to Cuba, Iceland, and Thailand to view and research birds. He was an award-winning reporter and editor for the Grand Forks Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Boston Globe. This is his first book.

Praise / Awards

  • "Small, rare, and not often seen without a special effort, Kirtland's Warbler has still managed to capture the imaginations of countless people. This story of its close brush with extinction, and the struggle to pull it back from the brink, reads like an adventure novel, except that it's all true. Bill Rapai has woven a fascinating and memorable account of the bird and of the many people who have worked to rescue it."
    —Kenn Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guides

  • "I loved reading this book and found it a valuable and unique contribution to natural history literature. Besides exhaustively recounting the human and natural history of an extraordinary bird, Rapai has crafted a rare combination of easily accessible prose, scientific literacy, and human passion, together with the mystery and drama of endangered species management. The Kirtland's Warbler is poised to join the Peregrine Falcon as globally significant examples of how scientific understanding, effective management policy, public-private partnerships, and citizen-science can be integrated to recover a species."
    —John Fitzpatrick, Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

  • "This well-told story of the endangered Kirtland's Warbler…is filled with many heroes and much inspiration."

  • "Serious bird watchers, students, and professionals interested in birds will enjoy this book."
    —K.L. Williams, Northwestern State University, Choice

  • Michigan Notable Book Award 2013

News, Reviews, Interviews

Listen: William Rapai discusses The Kirtland's Warbler | Interlochen Public Radio | March 1, 2013

Media Kit

Product Details

  • 5.5 x 8.5.
  • 216pp.
  • 15 B&W photos, 2 maps.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2013
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03576-2

Add to Cart
  • $19.95 U.S.

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  • Kirtland's Warbler, endangered species, eco-tourism, birding, Michigan, fire