PERSONAL: Born in CA; children: three sons. Education: Graduated from Stanford University.
ADDRESSES: Home—Washington, DC. Office—National Public Radio, Science Desk, 635 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20001.
CAREER: During early career, worked as a journalist for newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, and Salisbury Evening Post; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA, former science journalism fellow; National Public Radio, Washington, DC, science correspondent and substitute news program host, 1990–. Guest lecturer at universities, including Princeton University, Yale University, and University of Utah.
AWARDS, HONORS: Science Writing Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2005.
Condor: To the Brink and Back—The Life and Times of One Giant Bird, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: When John Nielsen was a boy growing up in Ventura County, California, condors were a fairly common site. Years later, after becoming a science journalist reporting on endangered species around the world, Nielsen decided to write about the endangered California condor. By the late 1980s, the species had diminished in numbers to only a couple dozen birds, and it was on the verge of extinction. While biologists debated whether the condors could best be protected in captivity or the wild, the numbers continued to dwindle until only twenty-seven were left. The situation became so perilous that the last wild condors were trapped and sheltered in facilities where they could be safely bred. By the time Nielsen published his book on the subject, Condor: To the Brink and Back—The Life and Times of One Giant Bird, about two hundred condors had been raised and some were released back into the wild. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author seems to be most interested in describing the field work scientists conducted while studying the condor, as well as how they worked with the birds in captivity, writing that Nielsen "is most entranced by the hazards and pleasures of working with these birds." Library Journal contributor Henry T. Armistead concluded that Condor is a "dramatic conservation tale," while in Booklist Nancy Bent declared, "This is popular science writing at its peak."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Audubon, January-February, 2006, Todd Neale, review of Condor: To the Brink and Back—The Life and Times of One Giant Bird, p. 74.
Booklist, December 15, 2005, Nancy Bent, review of Condor, p. 10.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2005, review of Condor, p. 1176.
Library Journal, December 1, 2005, Henry T. Armistead, review of Condor, p. 167.
Publishers Weekly, November 7, 2005, review of Condor, p. 64.
National Public Radio Web site, http://www.npr.org/ (March 13, 2006), biography of John Nielsen.