book review

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose

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Nature completely captivates me and my little family.

We’re out in nature all the time plus we live a mile away from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. When we’re not in nature often times we’re reading about nature. With that in mind, today’s book is a “must read!”


As I watched this book win the YALSA award and The Robert F. Sibert Award, I knew I wanted to get my hands on this book. The wait has been long but finally our library had a copy available and I must say that it is one of the most captivating books I’ve read in a long-time.

Meet a bird known as a rufa red knot, named B-95 aka Moonbird. Scientists call him Moonbird because in his lifetime this robin sized shore bird has flown the distance to the moon and halfway back again.


Each February he joins a flock that lifts off from Tierra del Fuego at the Tip of South America, headed for breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, nine thousand miles away. Late in the summer Moonbird begins the return journey to Tierra del Fuego.


Is what makes this story so remarkable is author Phillip Hoose, a nature conservationist as well as a multi-award winning author, follows B-95 for the course of an entire year.  But what also makes this story amazing is that B-95 was originally tagged on February 20th 1995 by Canadian researcher Dr. Baker in Tierra del Fuego.  Moonbirds black band read B-95 hence his name.

What is the likelihood that researchers would find B-95 again ? Pretty slim I think. Out of thousands of bird B-95 was captured again on November 17th 2001. In 2003 B-95 was found yet again. Clearly he was a survivor and an extraordinary pilot who could navigate his way back year after year.


In 2003 there was something else that was being noted by scientists, half of the adult rufa birds had died between 2000 and 2002 but here was B95, 11 years old and still completing the annual marathon migration. What scientists were looking at was a Superbird.

By the time researchers saw B95 again six years later on November 8th 2007 they simply could not believe it and knew they truly held a super athlete in their hands.

“To watch the light of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years….is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” Rachel Carson

Confronting B-95 and all rufa red knot shore birds is the distraction of their stopping places known as stepping-stones. With a worldwide team of scientist and conservationists, Phillip Hoose follows  B-95 through all of the stepping stone stops during the annual migration.

From the book :

Shorebird stepping-stones are being littered with trash, crowded with much bigger creatures, machines, raced over, dug up, polluted, poisoned, and otherwise degraded so that the bird’s needs cannot be met. “

The sad truth is that nearly half of the worlds shore bird species are declining, making shorebirds the most endangered migratory birds of all.

Phillip Hoose has created a legacy journey using inspiring prose, stunning images, and asking poignant questions about extinction through the life of one little rufa red knot, named Moonbird.

As of May 16th 2013, B-95 was spotted again on Delaware Bay. You can read more about it here.

Moonbird Delaware Bay banner


Very Recently on August 5th,2013 B-95 was spotted in Canada on the Mingan archipelago in Quebec. B-95 has made it through another breeding season at 21 years of age.


photo by Cristophe Buidin

Today’s photos are from the gallery at the Moonbird Fund.

A Little Bit More About Phillip House:

The widely acclaimed author of books, essays, stories, songs, and articles, including the National Book Award winning book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Towawrd Justice and his new book Moonbird. 

A graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Hoose has been a staff member of The Nature Conservancy since 1977, dedicated to preserving the plants, animals and natural communities of the Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.

A songwriter and performing musician, Phillip Hoose is a founding member of the Children’s Music Network and a member of the band Chipped Enamel. He lives in Portland, Maine.

He has a plethora of information on his book Moonbird. Drop by and have a look and listen to what’s been happening with him and this now famous bird.

**Some of these links are affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may get a very small commission.
This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!

Something To Do:

We were so greatly inspired by this book. It has given us an awareness of the ruff red knot, a bird we didn’t even know existed before reading Moonbird.

What other birds may live around us that we don’t even know about ?


Our days of late have been spent trying to identify the bird species in our area. For our bird walk we take along the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, a pair of binoculars, and a blank page notebook to write down our observations. We have taken several bird walks finding many birds. We’ve also begun to identify their birdsong.

We use an app called Bird Jam. There are so many apps our there both for bird identification and birdsong, but I really want to note something important about the way we’ve gone about this. We listen to the different bird songs from the app. We play a game called, “Name that Birdsong.” One person is the director picking the birdsong and everyone else tries and guesses which bird it belongs to. When we’re on a bird walk or “in the field” we are carrying our field guide and just watching and listening. We never take devices into nature. Currently there is much discussion about the effects bird call apps is having out in nature on the birds and the confusion it’s causing. When in nature we go au natural.

Bird Jam App

Bird Tagging

Interested in the rufa red knot and other migratory birds? The Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences has a program where school children, university students, and adults can learn banding techniques bringing a better understanding of each bird species local ecosystem. It also involves people in the conservation and protection of these birds and their habitats. This program has been going for over 40 years bringing over 25,000 young people to Manomet for the Fall & Spring migrations to see the birds up close to learn about their habitats. Manomet is in the North Eastern United States. For more information you can find them here.

Discover what happened to the Rufa Red Knot Population

Follow the rufa red knot through its migration path of 2008. Each student creates an education tool to bring public awareness to the plight of this shorebird. B-95 is featured in this program with parts of the website being animated.  You can find them here.

One is never too old nor too young to make a difference. I hope you enjoy discovering more about the birds around you and especially the Rufa Red Knot. This is just a spectacular book which inspires all of us to be conservators of our precious planet.

Speaking of nature, it’s not too late to still sign up for the At Home Summer Nature Camp eCurriculum! Summer may be coming to a close but there still time to enjoy the outdoors and nature play in your own backyard!

At Home Summer Camp ecurriculum

The At Home Summer Nature Camp is a creative, affordable alternative to pricey summer camp, this 8-week eCurriculum is packed with ideas and inspiration to keep your kids engaged and happy all summer long. In one easy-to-follow PDF, you receive eight kid-approved themes, each including ideas and tutorials for: outdoor activities, indoor projects, arts & crafts, recipes, field trips, books & media, and more. Every weekly theme is packed with summer nature fun your family can have right in your own backyard.

Jump Into a Book is very proud and excited to be one of the many “Camp Counselors” and bringing fun, enjoyment, and family activity to your upcoming summer.

If you haven’t grabbed your e-Curriculum yet I highly recommend hopping on board and “jumping” into the fun :) Click the link below for details and ordering information. Welcome to Nature Summer Camp!

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6 thoughts on “Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose

  1. Wonderful and inspiring post Valerie. I love that there are true surprises in nature still. It boggles your mind to think that diversity in nature and sheer strength of these creatures. I am so glad to have found this.. i must read this to DD! Thanks for sharing:)

  2. What a fascinating bird and book and I enjoyed reading about the Rufa Red Knot bird and I have been to the Delaware Bay area and I only remember Horseshoe crabs, and now I can remember the birds that also go there- Great job and great book.

  3. What a great story. I’m glad you’ve got so into bird-walking. In the UK we’ve had a strong tradition of being bird mad for over 100 years, when someone set up the British Trust for Ornithology. They run the UK’s bird-ringing scheme and manage a website where anyone can report a ringed bird that they’ve seen or found – anywhere in the world, for any participating ringing scheme in the world!
    We’re learning so much about brids as a result – the oldest bird we have in the Uk is a Shearwater now aged over 57 years old!

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