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Space for Birds

~ Patterns and Parallels of Beauty and Flight

A new hardcover publication, available September 17th, 2024

The lives and habitats of two majestic bird species are shared through striking space, aerial, and surface photographs to artfully convey the fragile elegance of life on Earth.

Includes foreword by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay

New perspectives can inspire us to think differently about our place in the universe. The first photos of Earth from space showed the home of all known life as a small “blue marble” in a vast darkness and are thought by many to have inspired the environmental movement. For Dr. Roberta L. Bondar, the first female Canadian astronaut and the world’s first neurologist in space, the rare perspective she enjoyed aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery enhanced her reverence for the world we share with non-human life – especially birds, the only animals also able to obtain similar vantages and travel vast distances across the globe.

In Space for Birds: Patterns and Parallels of Beauty and Flight, Bondar, also an accomplished professional nature and landscape photographer, focuses her lens on two species: the endangered Whooping Crane, which migrates from its boreal nesting grounds in Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park to the seaside abundance of its winter habitat in Texas; and the Lesser Flamingo, which is seen in dazzling pink flocks on and above East African Rift Valley soda lakes. Photos from the International Space Station convey the continental scale of these birds’ travels, and Bondar’s aerial and surface photos, accompanied by insights both scientific and personal, offer intimate glimpses of their daily lives and unique behaviours. While these birds lead different lives on opposite sides of the globe, they share, with each other and with us, an imperative to survive and a reliance on Earth’s fragile ecosystems.

About the Author

Aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-42 in 1992, she conducted experiments in the first International Microgravity Laboratory, a precursor to the International Space Station. Trained by NASA’s Earth Observations team, she also photographed the Earth while circling it 129 times. Dr. Bondar later became an honors student in Professional Nature Photography. For her Passionate Vision project, she photographed with medium and large format film cameras, all of Canada’s forty-one National Parks and Reserves and Marine Parks as they existed at the turn of the millennium, followed by global arid landscapes and their World Heritage Sites. Private, corporate, and institutional collections in Canada, the USA, and the UK hold Dr. Bondar’s fine art photographic prints. She is the author of several best-selling books featuring her writing and photography. 

Dr. Bondar’s distinctions are diverse and include: Companion of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and into the International Women’s Forum’s Hall of Fame, many honorary doctorates from Canadian and American Universities, a former Chancellor of Trent University, six Canadian schools in her name, a Specially Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and her own star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.


“A gorgeous photo essay by Roberta Bondar, first female Canadian astronaut: two migratory birds, Whooping Crane and Lesser Flamingo, and what their necessary habitats look like. In one word, stunning!” 

Margaret Atwood (@MargaretAtwood on X), Writer

Embark on a breathtaking photographic journey combining brilliant writing with awe-inspiring images as Dr. Bondar chronicles the mounting environmental challenges facing two struggling species.

Steve Perry, Widlife Photographer, Author, Educator

A fascinating and beautifully illustrated book that zooms in and out between an astronaut’s orbital perspective, some unique and fragile environments and the elegant birds that live and breed there.” 

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Scientist, Astronaut, Explorer, Author

“You are the only person I’ve read able to integrate the beauty of poetry with lovely precision of science. I really like reading it. This will not only be a good “coffee table” book but a perfect teaching tool.”

Dr. Marian McGee, Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa, Canada

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