This is a magical book. Beautiful, important, and magical.


It’s showing us what the future won’t look like.


Matt Williams’ (no relation) book has an unfortunately honest title: “Endangered and Disappearing Birds of the Midwest.” He gives us photos of 40 bird species in decline.


These are our species, ours slowly and surely becoming fewer each year. Williams’ photos are testament to loss, and invitation to see.


Hurricane Michael left no doubt of loss when it hit Florida recently. We actually could watch towns disappear. A roar of wind. Here now, gone now. No question.


Birds are disappearing too slowly for their own good. It’s hard to see the losses. We can’t watch it happen. We are supposed to understand.


In the book’s text, Williams, director of conservation programs for The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, explains the how and why of shrinking numbers. 


This shouldn’t be read as a message, because message is like committee, often not the best way to make an impression. Let’s say Williams tells stories of opportunity — to find, see, and enjoy these birds now, while we can.


His photos are seeing is believing. The live bird is even better, exciting, a push to see it again. His photos are encouragement for now and perhaps, if we ever get our act together, a better future.


Indiana University Press gives us a book as well done as its photos. It is handsomely designed, 214 pages hardbound, with large colorful range maps, and beautiful color printing, a substantial book, worthy of its purpose. Price is $29. It is available as an e-book.


Buy this book. Share it. Show it to family, friends, the people you work with. Let children take it to show and tell. Give it to a teacher. Use it in your Sunday school class. Take it to book club.  


Don’t look at the photos once and never open the book again. This is not a book for the dusty future. It is for now. Use the book. Share it. Wear it out.


If we can’t stop the losses at least we should know what we’re losing.




Below, a Herring Gull, a common bird surprisingly in steep decline.