On Mimi Wheatwind's recommendation, I read "Refuge" by Terry Tempest Williams. The book is outside my usual genres but since the narrative has a lot to do with birdwatching, I had an intellectual footing to stand on.
"Refuge" is set in Utah, mostly around the Great Salt Lake. It describes the parallel unfolding events of the author's mother dealing with cancer and the Lake's flooding that threatens everything around its shores, both human and bird habitat. In addition to birding, the author discusses Mormon culture and history, the surrounding geology of the Great Salt Lake, and conveys an appreciation for the landscape once thought of as wasteland.
The prose is great, the story riveting, and ultimately requires several tissues as an accompaniment. An epilogue discusses the epidemic of cancer in Williams' female relatives and whether atom bomb testing in the West was the cause. Recommended (and a thank you to Mimi for recommending it!)
Refuge : an unnatural history of family and place / Terry Tempest Williams. QH105.U8 W55 1991, two copies.
Saltair Pavilion, Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1901. Public Domain. From the Photochrom Prints Collection, Library of Congress.