Beauty of waterbirds captured in new book

Mon Jan 4, 2010 1:10pm EST
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By Steve James

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - For the first 45 years of his life, Ted Cross was oblivious to the birds around him.

Then, for unknown reasons, he became obsessed with them.

For the past four decades, Cross has pursued his passion for photographing waterbirds across four continents -- from Snowy Egrets, which were close to extinction because their plumes fetched high prices from hat makers, to Red Knots that fly 8,000 miles from Patagonia to northern Canada to nest, to that symbol of America, the bald eagle.

His photo safaris have taken him to the Arctic Circle, Far East Siberia, isolated south Pacific islands and, nearer to home, Green Island, Texas.

The results are included in a coffee-table book called "Waterbirds."

Cross, 85, ex-editor of the Harvard Law Review, adviser to the Johnson and Nixon administrations on anti-poverty programs, a governor of the American Stock Exchange and author of books on the economics of blacks in America, talked to Reuters about the one thing that truly took over his life.

Q: Were you interested in birds growing up?

A: "I went all those years and I'm just amazed looking back because now it's almost a disease with me. It's so important in my life. Back then I had no interest whatsoever so it's one of those mysterious things of why things happen.   Continued...

<p>A Great Egret is seen in this undated handout photograph taken by Theodore "Ted" Cross. REUTERS/Theodore Cross/Handout</p>