Springtime would not be complete without a trip to Cape May in hopes of spotting robin-sized and colored shorebirds called Red Knots, from the subspecies rufa, as they forage intensely for horseshoe crab eggs. They are gathering much-needed food along their migration flight north in May.

When I think of tales and books about the incredible journeys that Red Knots take during migration, the story about the over-20-year-old Red Knot known as B95 comes to mind. He was captured and tagged in 1995 and spotted off and on for years, through 2014. His story is captured in the children’s book, Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose. Red Knot B95 truly earned the book’s title since, over the course of his life, he flew the distance to the moon and halfway back! One round trip to migrate from the tip of South America to the Arctic to nest and raise young, and then return to South America, is 20,000 miles! His story is of special interest since the rufa Red Knot populations have collapsed by nearly 80 percent. B95’s longevity and persistence provoke wonder, inspiration, and hope for this species.

Another special children’s book, Red Knot: A Shorebird’s Incredible Journey by Nancy Carol Willis, is an exceptionally beautifully illustrated story that brings to life an imagined female rufa simply named “Red Knot.” The story unfolds in the middle of summer in Tierra del Fuego, the southern tip of South America, where “Red Knot” is gathering strength and extra fat by eating tiny clams. She begins her journey in mid-February with 100 others heading north. With each stop along the way, “Red Knot” encounters numerous challenges, including bad weather, fatigue, various predators, and food shortages, all of which build interest and excitement in young readers to learn more. Will she make it to the Arctic in time to begin her own family? Excellent information about banding, a glossary, a timeline of her journey, some history, and conservation information are shared at the end.

Both of these books are available at your local library or can be purchased online.

Heidi Shiver, Bird Town Pennsylvania President and PA Audubon Council Executive Committee Member

Cover artwork for Red Knot: A Shorebird’s Incredible Journey. Used by permission of the author-artist, Nancy Carol Willis. You can find the book here.