The Last of the Curlews, by Fred Bodsworth (originally published 1955; various editions)
Once, immense flocks of Eskimo curlews “darkened the sky” as they followed their migration routes. Slaughtered by hunters, the bird is now believed to be extinct. Fred Bodsworth’s 1955 novel, Last of the Curlews, imagines a lone Eskimo curlew’s long migration from the Canadian Arctic to South America, his unlikely finding of a mate, and their tragic journey north with the spring. Written too late to protect the Eskimo curlew, Last of the Curlews reminds us of what we’ve already lost and of our continuing responsibility to protect endangered species.
Order Limicolae. Family Scopopacidae…. Numenius borealis, Eskimo curlew… excessive shooting on its migrations and in its winter home in South America was doubtless one of the chief causes of its destruction… I cannot believe that it was overtaken by any great catastrophe at sea which could annihilate it; it was strong of wing and could escape from or avoid severe storms; and its migration period was so extended that no one storm could wipe it out. There is no evidence of disease or failure of food supply. No, there was only one cause, slaughter by human beings, slaughter in Labrador and New England in summer and fall, slaughter in South America in winter and slaughter, worst of all, from Texas to Canada in the spring. They were so confiding, so full of sympathy for their fallen companions, that in closely packed ranks they fell, easy victims of the carnage. The gentle birds ran the gantlet all along the line and no one lifted a finger to protect them until it was too late… – from Last of the Curlews, by Fred Bodsworth