BIrd's nest on library shelf

Rebecca E. Hirsch—Where Have All the Birds Gone? Nature in Crisis



Rebecca E. Hirsch
Twenty-First Century Books, March 1, 2022
Hardcover, $37.32, eBook $8.49
ISBN-10: ‎1728431778, ISBN-13: 978-1728431772
Interest Level: Grades 8-12

Hirsch reports:

In October 2019, I swallowed the staggering news that 30 percent of all birds in the United States and Canada had disappeared in just 50 years. The news, based on a report in Science, felt like a gut punch. I would be turning 50 soon. Those birds had vanished in my lifetime.

Rebecca E. Hirsch

Rebecca E. Hirsch

The following month, I caught up with an editor at a conference. We had recently collaborated on Where Have All the Bees Gone? Pollinators in Crisis, a book for teens about the disappearance of wild bees. She asked if I had any new young adult book ideas. I filled her in on the report on North American birds. I suggested we do a book on it: what was causing birds to disappear and how could young readers help? She loved the idea. We both agreed time was of the essence. I promised to send her a full proposal in early 2020.

But when Covid hit, children's publishing came to a standstill. Publishers hit the brakes on new book projects as they waited to see what would happen with school closures. Editors and other industry professionals adjusted to working from home, and routine paperwork slowed to a crawl. At the time, I did not have an agent. And so, every month, I emailed my editor to check on the status of the book. She assured me that that my book would go forward. After a four-month delay, we finally ironed out a basic deal over email.

I began researching the book before I even signed a contract. I knew the fall migration was fast approaching, and I wanted to get out into the field to do some research. I just trusted that a contract would arrive eventually. I finally signed it in October of 2020.

My advice to new writers is to nurture your professional relationships. Trust is one of your most important assets as a writer. Work with editors you trust, and be trustworthy yourself. Through good and bad times, good relationships can help you carry through.

Contact info: -

NASW members: will your book be published soon? Take advantage of this opportunity for shameless self-promotion. Submit your report for Advance Copy.

Tell your fellow NASW members how you came up with the idea for your book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. Include what you wish you had known before you began working on your book, or had done differently.


Review Advance Copy archives at

Thinking of writing a book? If you are a NASW member, you may access a list of more than 150 books and online resources to help you create your book proposal, find an agent and funding sources, negotiate your contract, learn about self-publishing, publicize and market your book, and more at

Send book info and questions about book publishing to Lynne Lamberg, NASW book editor,

Follow @LynneLamberg on Twitter for news about science/medical books and writing.

Hero image by PublicDomainArchive from Pixabay.

February 23, 2022

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit for information on submitting your report.

Publication of NASW author reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of any publication or the ideas, values, or material contained within or espoused by authors or their books. We hope this column stimulates productive discussions on important topics now and in the future as both science and societies progress. We welcome your discussion in the comments section below.

BWF Climate Change and Human Health Seed Grants

Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications

Advertise with NASW