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Publisher's Summary

A field scientist and conservationist tracks the elusive Blakiston's fish owl in the forbidding reaches of Eastern Russia.

When he was just a fledgling birdwatcher, Jonathan C. Slaght had a chance encounter with one of the most mysterious birds on Earth. Bigger than any owl he knew, it looked like a small bear with decorative feathers. He snapped a quick photo and shared it with experts. Soon he was on a five-year journey, searching for this enormous, enigmatic creature in the lush, remote forests of Eastern Russia. That first sighting set his calling as a scientist.

Despite a wingspan of six feet and a height of more than two feet, the Blakiston's fish owl is highly elusive. They are easiest to find in winter, when their tracks mark the snowy banks of the rivers where they feed. They are also endangered. And so, as Slaght and his devoted team set out to locate the owls, they aim to craft a conservation plan that helps ensure the species' survival. This quest sends them on all-night monitoring missions in freezing tents, mad dashes across thawing rivers, and free-climbs up rotting trees to check nests for precious eggs. At the heart of Slaght's story are the fish owls themselves: cunning hunters, devoted parents, singers of eerie duets, and survivors in a harsh and shrinking habitat.

©2020 Jonathan C. Slaght (P)2020 Tantor

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What listeners say about Owls of the Eastern Ice

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Years in the making and well worth the wait

A beautifully written (and read) story that is both educational and entertaining. Highly recommend for anyone interested in birds, wildlife conservation, the untold world of field research, or Russian culture.

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Could be better with a professional narrator

I usually enjoy audiobook read by authors, even very monotonous performances, as long as the narrators are articulate enough. This narrator, I don't why, sounds like he has a perpetual cold with a stuffy nose. The book itself is pretty good. I probably will try the book version later.

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Absolutely fabulous!!

This is one of the best books I have ever read. Jonathan Slaght takes us right there along with him from the very beginning of his research. His descriptions are so immediate we can feel the frustration and the joy, laugh with him in his mistakes, and feel the terror and relief of travel in that remote world. The local characters that Slaght brings along with us are just as fascinating as the birds he seeks. His dogged determination and perseverance in the face of such difficult field conditions are so admirable as is his attention to detail both in his research and in the writing of this book. BRAVO!!!

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From the first page the author had me enthralled. His description of the camping, the Russian people, his coworkers, are visuall

This was a fabulous book on what it takes to do conservation work. The patience, determination, and grit that is sometimes what it takes to get data that is necessary for change to occur. Great story, I felt like I was there with the biologists. It was my first understanding of the area called Primordia. Thanks so much for all the work to save those incredible Fish owls!

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Absolutely captivating!

I found this book absolutely captivating and could not stop listening. As a birder, I found the owl research fascinating and informative but it was the wild characters and places that made the story such a page turner.

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Gripping story nominated for national book award

My favorite kind of audiobook is a memoir read by the author. Slaght reads his exquisite work with humility, honesty and a touch of humor. For a scientist who also has the gift of being able to write graceful and compelling prose, the audiobook reveals another of his talents- he entertains us with the voices of the characters he meets in the woods of the Russian Far East along with his fellow scientists. As a conversation biologist, Slaght is a careful and curious observer who is fueled by determination that can be almost blinding. Slaght reminds us that these are the identical attributes you need to write an achingly beautiful book.

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Absolutely Magical

I listen to many books about nature and this was by far the best I have listened to so far. The owls are fascinating and the author's story about finding them has all of the tension and conflict of a well-written novel. The science is interesting; the story and the lessons about conservation are compelling.

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Fantastic read

Easily accessible and enjoyable conservation, natural history, and socioeconomic book about Eastern Russia and its owls. As a biologist, this is my bread and butter but I also appreciate how easily and thoughtful Jonathan was describing his PhD work with fish owls. I also loved the colorful descriptions he provided of the region and its peoples and their customs.

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Enthralling Nature Writing

Jonathan Slaght is a an intrepid researcher, a vivid writer, and an excellent narrator: truly a triple threat.

His account of several winters researching the threatened Blakiston's fish owl in remote Eastern Russia is gripping. Who knew?

I listened to this book because it won the Minnesota Book Award for nonfiction. It far surpassed my expectations, and I heartily recommend it to anyone curious about the natural world and human interaction with it.

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learned a lot. enjoyed. recommend if you care abou

would be good to have maps but not possible with onlyaudio. excellent narrator and author