Chu, Miyoko

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Chu, Miyoko


Born in NY; married Mark Chao; children: two. Education: Yale University, B.A.; University of California, Santa Cruz, certificate in science communication; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.


Home—Ithaca, NY. Office—Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer and ornithologist. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, ornithologist, staff writer, and editor of BirdScope newsletter.


Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds, Walker (New York, NY), 2006.

Assistant editor, Living Bird magazine.


Miyoko Chu is a nonfiction author and ornithologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Tracing her love of birds from a childhood hobby of raising pigeons, Chu pursued her interest through college, where she spent summers working on bird research in Nebraska and California.

Chu's first book, Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds, details the seasonal migration of American songbirds. It is an "excellent overview of a compelling subject," commented Henry T. Armistead in the Library Journal. Chu "writes engagingly" on the topic, Armistead remarked, and provides a "lucid interpretation" of the scientific research that has been conducted on bird migration. Beginning with springtime movements, Chu follows the migrating birds through all four seasons as they depart the Yucatan Peninsula and begin a nonstop, high-energy trip across the Gulf of Mexico. She reports on their nesting and reproductive habits during the summer, their return trip in the fall, and their behavior in wintering habitats. She details the technology and methods scientists use to track and monitor the birds, and describes the sometimes great lengths that researchers must go to in order to keep tabs on their feathered subjects. Chu also relates a large selection of facts and figures in her narrative. For example, a black-poll warbler utilizes its own body fat with such great efficiency during its long flight across the ocean that an equivalent amount of gasoline would amount to mileage of more than 720,000 miles to the gallon. She also reports more unfortunate statistics, such as the fact that more than half of all yellow warblers die during migration each year. For aspiring birders, she provides lists of locations where birds can best be observed during the phases of their migration cycle, and includes information on nonspecialist scientific efforts for birders who want to contribute their knowledge to the canon of bird-watching lore and data.

A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Chu's first book a "captivating debut." Booklist contributor Nancy Bent called Songbird Journeys an "impressive introduction to the study of birds on the move." James F. McCarty, reviewing the book in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, named it "the most enjoyable blend of birding lore and ornithological knowledge I have read in thirty years of bird-watching." In this one volume, McCarty con- cluded, readers "can savor more avian pleasure than what's found on an entire shelf of standard birding books."



Booklist, February 1, 2006, Nancy Bent, review of Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds, p. 13.

Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 5, 2006, James F. McCarty, "Stories and Facts Dovetail in Good Read," review of Songbird Journeys.

Library Journal, February 15, 2006, review of Songbird Journeys, p. 142.

Publishers Weekly, January 2, 2006, review of Songbird Journeys, p. 47.


Cornell Lab of Ornithology Web site, (April 14, 2006)., (April 14, 2006), biography of Miyoko Chu.