Cover Image: Wings Over Water

Wings Over Water

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Member Reviews

I received an arc of this title from NetGalley for an honest review. An excellent coffee table book this would make. This book has pictures and information about the wetlands that have been protected and the birds that inhabit them. Gorgeous book!
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Wings Over Water: The Vital Magic of North America’s Prairie Wetlands by Wetlands LLC is a companion book to the internationally distributed IMAX film of the same name. Wings Over Water celebrates the prairie wetlands of North America and the birds that live and breed in this critical habitat. Covering 300,000 square miles stretching from Canada through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa, the prairie wetlands are one of Earth’s most important, yet little-known, ecosystems. More than half of all North American migratory waterfowl and 96 species of songbirds breed and nest there, and more than 60 percent of the continent’s ducks are hatched there. Wings Over Water immerses readers in this awe-inspiring, essential region, using more than 300 breathtaking photos and inspiring essays from some of North America’s foremost conservationists to shine a spotlight on these critical breeding grounds and the need to protect them.

Wings Over Water is a lovely collection of personal reflections, information, and photographs about the American wetlands and the birds that stop there in their yearly migrations. This would be a great coffee table book for those interested in the topic to flip through and enjoy, or to read before or after seeing the movie. I did enjoy the images, and think there is some valuable information and engaging thoughts shared here. I did like the information on the importance of the environment and conservation, but felt that hunting was a little to glorified here. Yes, hunting can help conservation efforts in specific circumstances, and can be beneficial to people and the environment alike when handled with respect and thoughtfulness, but I think this was a little to focused on the topic than I would have hoped for in a book full of stunning bird focused photography.
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Every day provides an opportunity for learning and the past few days of reading Wings Over Water have provided just that. Wings Over Water is a companion book to the IMAX film released earlier this year of the same name. It's about the plains wetlands of North America and the birds and other wildlife that call it home. This area is not only important for the birds who nest there but also because it provides "clean water, and sufficient grasslands to keep our continent healthy." Like the Amazon and the Everglades, these heartland wetlands are environmentally vital. And, that is something I didn't know. The area includes: Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana and part of the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

Wings Over Water is a beautifully photographed and informative coffee table book that includes personal reflections about the wetlands, a lovely haibun as well as information regarding the different environmental and conservation groups that have worked for over a century to keep these wetlands and others like them safe.

The photographs taken by remote electronics and photographers, some in blinds, are stunning. Many capture birds in flight, taking off, or landing. As well, the landscape is shown in breathtaking images of sunset or just showing its vastness and make all of those jokes about flyover states pretty ridiculous since we can now see how beautiful they are.

It can be easy to just page through the colorful photographs but the text provides equally mind-boggling stuff like: “in the past 50 years over 3 billion birds have vanished from North America.” Noting the number and location is pretty sobering. “. . .seven out of ten birds that migrate over North America rely on prairie wetlands during part of their life cycle.” The importance of the wetlands cannot be over-emphasized, but it seems like they suffer from a huge PR issue that perhaps the movie and book can help to alleviate. Of course, getting the people who need to read the words in this book to actually read them and not just flip while concentrating on the pictures might be a challenge.

While many of us may never have the opportunity to visit this area, the pictures and information do a great deal to bring it to life and the work that is being done to conserve the area. I learned a lot and have definitely had my interest piqued enough to learn more.

I will note that there is an effort to establish a link between hunters and conservation which didn’t sit well with me probably in the same way that while one gives Teddy Roosevelt his due because he established hundreds of parks, reserves and conservation areas and may have aided in recovery of some species, turkeys for instance, he was also a voracious hunter. The hunters role in conservation seems self-serving rather than for the benefit of the species.

A beautiful book and I’m looking forward to seeing the film.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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What a wonderful companion book to the Wings Over Water IMAX film!   The photographs are absolutely stunning, of course, but the text is just as compelling.   The behind-the-scenes filming information is interesting, but just as fascinating are the articles on conservation, history, and geography.   I really enjoyed learning about so many other topics along with the study of all the animals who depend on the prairie wetlands.   

This would be great to read before seeing the film, but would also be a nice souvenir to remember it by.  Additionally, anyone interested in birdwatching, conservation, nature films, or just armchair traveling would be thrilled to get a copy of this!

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!
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This book is really a survey of the issue and major players involved in preserving America's wetlands, from Canada to Mexico. For one who knows nothing of either, like myself, I found it helpful and informative--and the photography spectacular. The pictures were the main draw for me, and on that front, the book absolutely succeeds!

It also makes me very curious to see the movie. I had flashbacks of my growing-up years, going to Seattle's Pacific Science Center and seeing IMAX movies--or watching them in class (many narrated by Peter Coyote). #childofthe80sand90s :D Michael Keaton is an intriguing choice of narrator; I'll admit most of my familiarity with him stems from "Much Ado About Nothing," so there is a level of amusement there re: a show a far cry from narration on fowl! :D

The movie is as yet unreleased, but once it lands, I'll certainly consider it. A visit to my local IMAX may be in order!

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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Wings Over Water is a delightful, photography rich, coffee table style book to go along with a forthcoming IMAX documentary of the same name. Both book and movie feature North America’s vital prairie wetlands habitat. I requested an early digital copy of this book through NetGalley because I visited Tall Grass Prairie Preserve outside Emporia, KS last year and learned how little of the once abundance prairie ecosystem remains. I wanted to learn more about the prairie and the prairie wetlands ecosystems, and this book was educational. 

The book and documentary were created to document the role the American prairie wetlands plays in the larger North American ecosystem and to encourage prairie wetlands awareness, conservation, and preservation.  The book promotes prairie conservation organizations including Ducks Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited Canada, National Audubon Society, and the Wetlands America Trust.  The prairie wetlands are critical for cleaning and replenishing water in North American aquifers as well as providing breeding habitat for a wide range of wildlife including the majority of North American waterbirds. The habitat has been greatly reduced for farming and is further threatened by climate change. 

The book is about 115 pages of content with beautiful bird and prairie photos on almost every page along with short essays on topics such as the importance of the prairie habitat, the making of the documentary, conservation of the prairie and birds, and information about the breeding waterfowl of the prairie. Each essay is short, but informative, with no background information required. I learned about the history and mission of the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation who sponsored the film as well as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act that creates a legal framework and conservation alliance between government and conservation organizations. The book discusses working with farmers and hunters to realize conservation goals and wetland restoration that are long-term beneficial for everyone. The film follows three bird species on the prairie so there are more photos of Mallard Ducks, Sandhill Cranes, and Yellow Warblers, but other prairie birds and wildlife are also included, though there is a strong focus on ducks. 

The book succeeded in making me want to see the film, but the book itself is a beautiful addition to a bird, conservation, or nature photo library. It is an educational book designed for a broad audience, particularly those who are not familiar with bird conservation in North America. I would recommend a print copy to fully enjoy the photos though the digital copy viewed well through the NetGalley app on my iPad Pro. Thank you to NetGalley and Girl Friday Productions for giving me an opportunity to review this book before publication.
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When I think of wetlands, I always think of land on the coasts, not midwestern prairie land. Apparently, though, the prairie wetlands are extremely important to not only water birds, but others birds as well, as well as many other wild creatures. This book is a companion to an IMAX film with the same title. It has lots of beautiful bird photos, but the selection is not as diverse as one would think, considering all the birds that visit and live in the prairie wetlands. There are also many pictures of the photographers who made the movie, and how they disguised their presence to get good shots. In addition, there is information about the beginning of wetlands conservation and how it has progressed over the years.
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A very thin accompaniment to the IMAX 3-D film released in selected theaters in January 2022. The film is narrated by actor Michael Keaton, who also provides an introduction to the book – a few paragraphs remembering his boyhood watching ducks and geese on migration, and his eagerness to participate in the film project because “after all, I know something about birds.” Presumably this is because he starred in a film about an actor playing a superhero called Birdman, and because he is an avid hunter.

The book comprises a few chapters authored by representatives of the organizations that supported the film: Ducks Unlimited, the National Audubon Society, the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, and a former official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Each of these chapters reads like a PR piece for the organizations themselves, touting their accomplishments, and fund-raising for the protection of prairie wetlands from Canada to Mexico. There is a little bit of background information on the importance of these habitats (repeatedly referred to as “America’s Amazon”), particularly for waterfowl, and the drastic reduction in acreage due to agriculture and development – and these are large-scale, vitally important achievements. Another chapter is devoted to the making of the film, which consists mostly of pictures of men in the water with a lot of camera equipment, showcasing the photographers and filmmakers who shot the lush and beautiful images of these places and the birds (and other creatures) who live there. Pains are taken to identify the birds both by common names and Latin taxonomic terms, though the common names are not capitalized per standard ornithological usage. Oddly, landscape photos are not identified as to locale, so a given image might be anywhere from Canada to Iowa. The film is said to focus on three prairie bird species: Sandhill Cranes, Yellow Warblers, and the nearly ubiquitous Mallard, but this book gives little substantive information on the birds or prairie ecology.

What is not explicit but apparent is the strongly pro-hunting stance of the organizations supporting the film and this book. Theodore Roosevelt is lionized as a pioneer conservationist, and is also the man boasting a nearly 300-species kill list from a single African safari, including 11 bird species like cranes, storks, ostrich, and bustards. Ducks Unlimited has always been about preserving habitat to ensure plenty of waterfowl for hunters. The McGraw Foundation has sponsored projects to recruit and encourage Hispanic hunters, and to promote the benefits of trapping to government officials. Its chapter concludes with a bald, unexplicated statement that “To those who do not hunt, the idea that people can respect or love the animals they hunt is contradictory, perhaps even hypocritical.” That hint of hostility (or defensiveness?) is revealing, and no effort is made to even address it. 

Wings Over Water is probably a gorgeous, dramatic film. The book’s photos are lovely, and should surprise and delight readers and viewers with the splendors of these underappreciated and priceless regions. It may inspire readers to contribute to projects and groups that work to protect and expand them – an admirable goal. But the text is superficial and largely self-serving, adding little value or depth of information.
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Wings Over Water is a companion book to the Imax film of the same name. I haven’t seen the film, but now I want to! The photography in this book is outstanding, but there’s a lot more to it than that. 

The book underscores the importance of protecting and restoring prairie wetlands, not just as a year-round habitat of these beautiful birds (and other animals) but also as important stopping grounds for birds during migration. 

It also covers how the film came to be made. Several organizations teamed up to produce it, reminding us that it’s important for hunters and conservationists to work together to protect environments that are valuable to both groups. It makes you think about the patience, dedication, and skill of the camerapeople and the rest of the crew. The book also talks about the history of conservation, through both government action and private organizations.

It would make a good coffee table book or a nice gift. It comes out in April 2022. Thank you to NetGalley, Girl Friday Productions, and Flashpoint Books for my copy.
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3.5 Stars. This book was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a coffee table book featuring brief descriptions and lots and lots of pictures. It wasn't quite that. Wings Over Water is a companion book to an IMAX film that's coming out soon (no release date yet on IMDB). This means that the intro was written by Michael Keaton because he narrates the film and in addition to information about conservation there is a lot of information about making the film. The photography was absolutely amazing, but I wish there was more of it. I get that they wanted to include a lot of information, but a book about an IMAX film should be focusing on the imagery. That being said, I did not need there to be so many pictures of the production team. One or two shots of showing how the photographers were able to conceal themselves to get the shots would be cool, but the random pictures of things like snow on a production member's beard and the editing bay were odd. I also found the formatting / design of the book to be very confusing. On some pages the text was just text on a blank page, on some pages there was text over an image, on some pages there was text in box over an image. The layout of the main sections of text was also bizarre because one page would end mid sentence and then there would be 3 pages of photos (some of which had accompanying text) and then we would reach the conclusion of the sentence. There were several times I had to flip back to restart the paragraph / sentence when I finally got to the page continuing the writing. The book did provide some decent information on the wetlands and the need for conservation, but I wish they would have gone more in depth on some of these topics as much of the information felt very surface level. I honestly don't know who this book is for other than people involved with the film. I have close family friends who hunt ducks but I can't see them buying this book, and with the focus being so much on the film I don't see it being a coffee table book that a random consumer will pick up. Overall the photos were worth flipping through the book, but it wasn't what I'd hoped it would be.
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This is a beautiful book which covers wetland conservation of birds and enviromental spaces in North America .by the Wetland Management council, giving over 50 year  of service  to the protection of   the North American Wetlands.
Beautiful photos and a wonderful table top book to pick up and browse, or to read until from cover to cover, fascinating information and photographs.
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“Approximately seven out of ten birds that migrate over North America rely on prairie wetlands during part of their life cycle”

This book was my introduction to America’s prairie wetlands, which span “parts of five states - Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa - and three Canadian provinces - Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.” 

“This book and the IMAX 3D movie Wings Over Water are aimed at awakening the continent and the world to the need to protect the prairie wetlands, North America’s greatest ecological asset. The prairies are key to abundant birds, clean water, and sufficient grasslands to keep our continent healthy. Without them, we face a future of depleted water resources, decreased water quality, ruinous flooding, and a greatly diminished ability to sequester carbon. The implications for the continent’s bird populations are even more bleak.”

The film runs for 44 minutes, a fraction of the over 220 hours of footage that was shot. Although a number of birds are included in this book, the film focuses on three: mallards, sandhill cranes and yellow warblers. It doesn’t hurt that it’s being narrated by Michael Keaton.

I’ve done this backwards, reading the companion book prior to seeing the film. I expect I will appreciate the behind the scenes information more once I’ve watched the film. 

I’m hoping the facts about the birds and their life cycles that I was keen to learn from this book will be presented on screen. There were a few, just not as many as I would have liked. My favourite fun fact was that yellow warblers weigh “less than three sheets of paper”.

I adored the photos in this book and had trouble choosing a favourite.

When I was growing up, the only times I experienced IMAX was at the IMAX Theatre at Dreamworld in Queensland when my family did the theme park hop while we were on holiday. I was always mesmerised by them and still remember one scene where my stomach did the first drop of a rollercoaster lurch as the camera suddenly dipped into a gaping canyon. I couldn’t get enough. 

I haven’t seen an IMAX film for years but definitely want to find a way to watch Wings Over Water. If this book is any indication, the cinematography is going to be breathtaking. Don’t believe me? Check out the trailer!

You may also want to have a wander around the film’s website.

“Marvel at the richness of this northern kingdom for wildlife. Then find your own place in the movement to save the stunning prairie wetlands of North America.”

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Girl Friday Productions and Flashpoint for the opportunity to read this book. I’m rounding up from 4.5 stars.
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