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A spellbinding history of the one bird every serious birder hopes to find, even as the world doubts its existence.
In Search of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is both a complete natural history of one of the most exciting and rare—perhaps even extinct—birds in the world, and a fascinating personal quest by the world's leading expert on the species. Jerome A. Jackson provides detailed insights into the bird's lifestyle, habitat, and cultural significance, examining its iconic status from the late 1800s to the present in advertising, conservation, and lore. As he relates searches for the bird by John James Audubon, Alexander Wilson, and others, Jackson offers anecdotal tales illuminating the methods of early naturalists, including how Wilson's captive ivory-bill destroys his hotel room in a desperate attempt to escape. Jackson's search for perhaps the last remaining ivory-bill takes him across the United States and into Cuba. He spends hours flying over potential ivory-bill habitat, canoeing through isolated waterways, and trudging through swamps, always playing recorded ivory-bill calls into the wilderness, hoping for a response. 30 halftones.
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Jerome A. Jackson is editor of Grizmek's Animal Life Encyclopedia: Birds, Second Edition and is the Whitaker Eminent Scholar in Science at Florida Gulf Coast University. He lives in Naples, Florida.From Publishers Weekly:
With its large bill and impressive appearance, the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, is an ornithologist's holy grail. Organizations have sponsored searches for it; nature Web sites ask visitors to e-mail in their ivory-billed reports; and flocks of hopeful birders descend upon the American South every year hoping to find one. Jackson is a leading scholar and dedicated knight of this impressive bird, having maintained an obsession with it for 30 years. He takes readers on his exhaustive search through history books and records and then on his tireless travels in southeastern America and Cuba looking for the ivory-billed. In a time of multitasking and overwhelming choices, Jackson's life, with its single-minded pursuit, is enviable, and the book's allure derives in part from Jackson's zeal and focus. He provides insight into the interdependence of flora and fauna of the ivory-billed woodpecker's habitat; extensive background on previous ornithologists' work; the woodpecker's history (going back to its possible evolution two million years ago); and the bird's iconography in preservation and even advertising (in Travelers Insurance Company ads and elsewhere). With diligence and exacting scholarship, Jackson makes an important contribution to our understanding of this elusive bird and the impact of human activities on its environment. 30 halftones.
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