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Endangered Animals Theme Unit
A Letter from Laysan



A Letter from Laysan
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.97

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    birds-boobies, brine, dibblers, frigate, purple-blue, shearwaters, northwest, lagoon, wherever, tricky, reading, interesting, rarest, doing, works, nearly
     content words:    Wildlife Service, Laysan Island, Hawaiian Islands, Hawaiian Island


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A Letter from Laysan
By Mary Lynn Bushong
  

1     "Mac," said Mom, "you got a letter from Liz. It's postmarked Hawaii."
 
2     Mac almost grabbed the letter from his Mom. He loved getting letters from his sister Liz. She got to see many different places with the Fish and Wildlife Service, and he loved the stories she told. He began reading.
 
3     Dear Mac,
We arrived on Laysan Island today. You may not know that it is one of the Hawaiian Islands. It is nearly 800 miles northwest of Honolulu by boat, which is the only way to reach it. I thought a couple of times that we would never get here.
 
4     It was tricky getting around the island reef, but we are finally here. We spent the last few hours unloading the ship. No one lives on the island, so we had to bring anything we might need.
 
5     I got my tent set up but still have a few things to arrange. I wish you could see this place. It's a small island about a mile wide and two miles long, with a salty lagoon in the middle of it.
 
6     What is really impressive are all of the birds. There are all kinds of sea birds-boobies, frigate birds, petrels, terns, and shearwaters. I know you may not find those too interesting, but there is another one you might like; it's a duck called the Laysan teal.
 
7     I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to come on this survey because these are the rarest ducks in the world. Once they lived all up and down the Hawaiian Island chain. When people came to the islands, they brought rats, pigs, and other animals. Eventually they killed all the ducks on the islands they shared.
 
8     How are those ducks of yours doing? They are much larger than these little dibblers. Laysans are very small ducks, and they have that purple-blue wing patch like a mallard has.
 
9     I've been reading up on these ducks. Years ago they were thought to be mallards that got stuck here and changed. Now they think that it was a common ancestor of the mallard and the Laysan.

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Endangered Animals Theme Unit
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