Phil Hoose: Moonbird…and Beyond

“Many knew that Red Knots were facing adversity, but no one knew that there was this one, bionic-seeming survivor of everything that could be thrown at him.”

-Phil Hoose

With decades at The Nature Conservancy and ten books under his belt, renowned author and conservationist, Phil Hoose, has just released his newest effort. Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with B95 is an epic saga that chronicles the miraculous survival of a four-ounce shorebird in the face of seemingly overwhelming adversity.

Phil’s Moonbird is already receiving critical acclaim. Birder and National Book Award-winner, Jonathan Franzen, opined… “This is a compellingly told story of a remarkable individual bird, and of how greatly his world has changed in just two decades.”

Phil’s passion for the environment, writing and helping the underdogs began years ago. After studying at Indiana University and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, he joined the Conservancy’s staff as a conservation planner in 1977. He was then the state director of the New Hampshire Chapter of the Conservancy in the early 1980s before helping to establish the organization’s Canada Program, for which he has worked ever since.

Today Phil’s work centers in the Great Bear Rainforest, supporting First Nation youth education initiatives.  

Putting his Passion into Words

Phil has worked part-time for the Conservancy in recent years, which has given him time to develop a career as an author. In 2004, His The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, documenting the Ivory-billed Woodpecker’s tragic slide toward extinction, received the 2005 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for non-fiction. 

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, about a courageous but unheralded teenaged Civil Rights activist, won the 2009 National Book Award in the Books for Young Readers category. It is the first and only non-fiction title ever to have claimed the prize. 

His Hey Little Ant, co-authored with his daughter Hannah Hoose, has sold more than one million copies and now appears in ten languages.  

Keeping with the Conservancy

In his 35th year with the Conservancy, Phil was recently asked why he has stayed so long. 

“I know what you mean,” he said. “35 years is more than half my life and even longer than my dad worked at his job. I guess there are a couple of reasons. The main thing is what we do—our widget. I can’t think of anything better to do than protecting habitats for the creatures of the earth. I get to learn so much, travel to such amazing places, and meet terrific people.” 

And the other reason?  

“The Conservancy has always supported my need to write. It’s never been viewed as a conflict or a distraction, but rather respected as evidence of a varied and creative life. Moonbird is probably the best example of all. From the beginning, there was excitement among the staff and trustees and members who knew about the project. Many knew that Red Knots were facing adversity, but no one knew that there was this one, bionic-seeming survivor of everything that could be thrown at him. To get to share such a story with so many who care so much and respond so strongly…well, where else would I rather work?”

Phil lives in Maine with his wife Sandi Ste.George. His daughters, Hannah, a public grade school teacher, and Ruby, a community health counselor, have fledged.   


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