Migration Mysteries

Adventures, Disasters, and Epiphanies in a Life with Birds

978-1-64843-183-8 Cloth
6.12 x 9.25 x 0 in
400 pp. 61 photos. 6 figures. 7 maps. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 02/28/2024


  • Cloth $42.00

Research scientist John H. Rappole’s lifelong journey has been in search of one thing—finding out why birds migrate. The developer and chief proponent of the “dispersal theory” of bird migration, Rappole takes readers on a tour of the decades-long discovery process that led him to propose a counter to the still–widely accepted “northern home,” or weather-based theory of migration. Migration Mysteries: Adventures, Disasters, and Epiphanies in a Life with Birds starts with Rappole’s early field work and follows through all of the subsequent twists and turns of his career and life.

In a delightfully approachable style, Rappole introduces the people, places, quandaries, and dangers he encountered during the years he spent in Mexico, Central America, and the United States studying the migration patterns of birds. His account also serves as a wake-up call for conservation as, Rappole observes, the habitats for migratory birds are disappearing year by year.

Cast as the author’s “swan song” on the topic of bird migration, this lively account of Rappole’s life’s work will delight birders, researchers, and general readers alike. Offered as both a follow-up to his recent, more theoretical work, Bird Migration: A New Understanding, and as a kind of valedictory message to colleagues, friends, supporters, and interested onlookers, Migration Mysteries is more than just what the author describes as “a biography of an idea,” it is also an entertaining and informative portrait of the life and work of one of America’s most influential wildlife biologists.

W. L. Moody Jr. Natural History Series

Published by Texas A&M University Press