In Yellowlegs John Janovy again displays his rare talent for making the scientific accessible and the personal universal. The result is a an extraordinary parable of man and technology. It is also an intensely personal account of one man's journey toward an understanding of himself, of his fellow man, and perhaps most important, of the secrets of a single sandpiper–a Tringa flavipes, or lesser yellowlegs.
We fly with Janovy's Yellowlegs from its nesting grounds in the Canadian north to South America and back. And along the way we join a slightly crazed biologist who leaves his university position, withdraws his life savings from the bank, and decides to follow the bird on its odyssey. Starting on the sand flats of Nebraska, and progressing across Kansas and down to the Gulf of Mexico (with a brief stop in Oklahoma jail), our migratory route brings us into contact not only with the wild creatures of the American West, but with the people–a few of whom are pretty wild themselves–with whom Janovy talks, drinks, and debates.
Seldom has the life of a wild creature been so intimately and vividly described. Seldom have hard science and mysticism been more successfully and lyrically combined. There can be little question that Yellowlegs will take its place a classic of nature writing at its best.
John Janovy is a professor of biology at the University of Nebraska and the author of the highly acclaimed Keith County Journal (St. Martin's, 1978), as well as dozens of professional publications. When not following sandpipers, he lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.