Taking the reader from the mountains of Appalachia to a coffee plantation near Bogotá, Colombia, this investigation into the plight of the cerulean warbler – a tiny migratory songbird – describes its struggle to survive in ever-shrinking bands of suitable habitat. This elusive creature – a favorite among bird watchers and the fastest-declining warbler species in the United States – has lost three percent of its total population each year since 1966. This precipitous decline means that today there are 80 percent fewer ceruleans than 40 years ago, and their numbers continue to drop because of threats including deforestation, global warming, and mountaintop-removal coal mining. With scientific rigor and a sense of wonder, Fallon charts their path across more than 2000 miles and shows how the fate of a creature weighing less than an ounce is vitally linked to that of our own.
Katie Fallon has had nonfiction pieces in a variety of magazines and journals, including Appalachian Heritage, Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing, and River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. Her essay “Lost,” published in The Fourth River, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2008. She teaches creative writing at West Virginia University. She lives in Morgantown, West Virginia.
" [...] At the end of the Curious George episode, after they've succeeded in getting a book store to carry the Cerulean Warbler book, the owner of the store says that "[the book] made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me give half the proceeds to The Warbler Foundation". Trite, maybe, but I can honestly make that claim about the book reviewed here. Cerulean Blues made me laugh and cry, and even moved me to make a donation (but to an actual organization) and look into further ways that I can help this imperiled bird. And that – even beyond being entertaining, informative, and beautifully written – is the true value of this book. I think anyone, whether or not they particularly like birds, would enjoy this book. But those that do like birds, especially the enchanting Cerulean Warbler, or are concerned about bird conservation in general need to read Cerulean Blues."
- Grant McCreary (07-05-2012), read the full review at The Birder's Library
"Tracks not just the bird's globe-hurtling journeys, but the passion and determination of the people in two hemisphere who are trying to save it."
– Scott Weidensaul, Pulitzer Prize nominee and author, Living on the Wind and Return to Wild America
"This book is a pleasure to read, and will open the eyes of many to the life of a small creature fighting an enormous fight."
– David Gessner, author, Return of the Osprey and Soaring with Fidel
"Cerulean Blues first catches a reader's eye and ear as a fetching little piece about a fetching little creature of the treetops [...] The beauty of this slender volume [...] is that it tries to reach a deeper personal level than that of the usual narrow-niche bird book."
– Donald A. Carr
"Cerulean Blues is many things. It's a fine work of nature writing that has its roots in American transcendentalism [...] It's a twenty-first century ecological manifesto, a plea for help in saving a small warbler."
– Cheryl B. Torsney, ConnotationPress.com
"Katie Fallon is a wonderful storyteller, nailing all the details in every memory that add to the flavor but also the relevance of each account. Images are skillfully placed where they make the biggest impact."
– The Tusculum Review