The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk

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By Jan Thornhill
Publisher Groundwood Books
The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk
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For hundreds of thousands of years Great Auks thrived in the icy seas of the North Atlantic, bobbing on the waves, diving for fish and struggling up onto rocky shores to mate and hatch their fluffy chicks. But by 1844, not a single one of these magnificent birds was alive.In this stunningly illustrated nonfiction picture book, awardwinning author and illustrator Jan Thornhill tells the tragic story of these birds that weighed as much as a sack of potatoes and stood as tall as a preteens waist. Their demise came about in part because of their anatomy. They could swim swiftly underwater, but their small wings meant they couldnt fly and their feet were so far back on their bodies, they couldnt walk very well. Still the birds managed to escape their predators much of the time until humans became seafarers.Great Auks were pursued first by Vikings, then by Inuit, Beothuk and finally European hunters. Their numbers rapidly dwindled. They became collectors items their skins were stuffed for museums, to be displayed along with their beautiful eggs. (There are some amazing stories about these stuffed auks one was stolen from a German museum during WWII by Russian soldiers; another was flown to Iceland and given a redcarpet welcome at the airport.)Although undeniably tragic, the final demise of the Great Auk led to the birth of the conservation movement. Laws were eventually passed to prevent the killing of birds during the nesting season, and similar laws were later extended to other wildlife species.

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3702 words3,702 words
44 pages44 pages
Lexile 1130LLexile 1130L
Grade 4 to 7Grade 4 to 7
Age 9-12Age 9-12
Published 2016Published 2016

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