This meticulously researched and photographed account follows three University of Montana scientists and their interdisciplinary work with osprey: fish-catching birds with gigantic nests and a family that functions with teamwork and cooperation. Today the osprey is studied to monitor the effects of mercury on living things. The osprey hunts in a very small area around its large nest and so scientists can pinpoint where mercury is coming from. In Missoula, Montana, the scientists have been following ospreys for six years, collecting data on the amount of contaminants found on their feathers and in their blood. The rivers and streams in Western Montana are still suffering effects from inappropriate mining activities performed more than a hundred years ago. This man-made pollution is still dangerous to people and to wildlife.
Gr 5-8—Patent's lucid prose and Munoz's clear color photos work together to document the efforts of the Montana Osprey Project, which studies the negative effects of toxic metals released into the environment during mining operations on these raptors. The book follows three scientists—Erick Greene, Heiko Langner, and Rob Domenech—as they study established pairs during the nesting season. They band osprey chicks, take blood samples and feather clippings for chemical analysis, fit birds with electronic transmitters to follow their wanderings, scoop silt from riverbeds to check for pollutants, and focus two webcams on osprey nests to check on parenting skills and chick development. The trio also talk with wildlife biology students and cooperate with locals who are fascinated by ospreys. Sidebars abound on a wide variety of topics, many pertaining to the ospreys: their biology, food, nesting behaviors, and migration patterns. Others include biographical background on the three scientists, an article on a young student and her experiments on fish in metal-contaminated waters, and information about the use of mercury in mining operations and the dangers that baling twine poses to nest building ospreys. An extensive author's note describes Patent's experience with some very far-flung pollution. VERDICT An exciting addition to a stellar series.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NYCopyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.