A conversation with a seabird biologist launched me into a book on marine birds and wind farms. During an interview with Iain Stenhouse from the Biodiversity Research Institute, I learned about a group of scientists doing an ambitious study of Atlantic seabirds. The group was trying to learn where birds lived and traveled in the wide blue waters off the U.S. Atlantic coast. Finding answers was urgent. These same waters were being eyed for offshore wind farms. Keeping the ocean safe for birds means constructing wind farms away from the places birds use. The more I learned, the more I knew I wanted to tell this story.
The scientists were studying the birds and their habitat in different ways. I chose to focus on their efforts to track birds using satellite tags. The scientists were generous with their time, granting me repeated interviews, inviting me aboard night-time capture missions, and letting me observe surgery while they implanted tags. Although several birds were under study, the star of the book became a daredevil known as the northern gannet. I’m very proud of the book that resulted.
I think it is important to inspire kids with solutions. We hear a lot of bad news about big environmental problems. Sometimes, solving these problems can feel like a lost cause. But that simply isn’t true. And that is why I love writing about scientists and conservationists who are hard at work solving big problems. I love to inspire readers and show them that with hard work, dedication, and cutting-edge science, we can find solutions.
Rebecca E. Hirsch is a scientist and the award-winning author of over four dozen nonfiction books for young readers. Birds vs. Blades? Offshore Wind Power and the Race to Protect Seabirds is a Junior Library Guild Selection. For more details, visit www.rebeccahirsch.com.