Ghost Birds : Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, 1935-1941

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-10-21
  • Publisher: Univ of Tennessee Pr
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"Everyone who is interested in the ivory-billed woodpecker will want to read this book-from scientists who wish to examine the data from all the places Tanner explored to the average person who just wants to read a compelling story." -Tim Gallagher, author ofThe Grail Bird: The Rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker In 1935 naturalist James T. Tanner was a twenty-one-year-old graduate student when he saw his first ivory-billed woodpecker, one of Americars"s Istudent when he saw his first ivory-billed woodpecker, one of Americars"s rarest birds, in a remote swamp in northern Louisiana. At the time, he rarest birds, in a remote swamp in northern Louisiana. At the time, he was part of an ambitious expedition traveling across the country to record and photograph as many avian species as possible, a trip organized by Dr. Arthur Allen, founder of the famed Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Two years later, Tanner hit the road again, this time by himself and in search of only one species-that ever-elusive ivory-bill. Sponsored by Cornell and the Audubon Society, Jim Tannerrs"s work would result in some of the most extensive field research ever conducted on the magnificent woodpecker.Drawing on Tannerrs"s personal journals and written with the cooperation of his widow, Nancy, Ghost Birds recounts, in fascinating detail, the scientistrs"s dogged quest for the ivory-bill as he chased down leads in eight southern states. With Stephen Lyn Bales as our guide, we experience the same awe and excitement that Tanner felt when he returned to the Louisiana wetland he had visited earlier and was able to observe and document several of the "ghost birds"-including a nestling that he handled, banded, and photographed at close range. Investigating the ivory-bill was particularly urgent because it was a fast-vanishing species, the victim of indiscriminant specimen hunting and widespread logging that was destroying its habitat. As sightings became rarer and rarer in the decades following Tannerrs"s remarkable research, the bird was feared to have become extinct. Since 2005, reports of sightings in Arkansas and Florida made headlines and have given new hope to ornithologists and bird lovers, although extensive subsequent investigations have yet to produce definitive confirmation.Before he died in 1991, Jim Tanner himself had come to believe that the majestic woodpeckers were probably gone forever, but he remained hopeful that someone would prove him wrong. This book fully captures Tannerrs"s determined spirit as he tracked down what was then, as now, one of ornithologyrs"s true Holy Grails.STEPHEN LYN BALES is a naturalist at the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is the author of Natural Histories, published by UT Press in 2007.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Prologue: "Someone Needs to Write a Booką"p. 1
Sabbaticalp. 5
The Journey Beginsp. 15
The Swampy Southp. 21
The Ghost Birdp. 33
Hot Sauce and Bird Cityp. 51
Days of Wind and Dustp. 55
Has Anyone Seen a Young Ivory-bill?p. 61
Westward Hop. 67
Swansongp. 79
On His Ownp. 89
Back at Singerp. 105
A Need to Move Onp. 123
On the Road Againp. 129
A Second Nesting Season at Singerp. 135
On the Road Again, Againp. 165
From the Santee to the Sunshine Statep. 175
Finding Sonny Boyp. 197
I Go Pogop. 211
The Fellowship Concludesp. 219
At Home in Tennesseep. 225
Our Lives Changed Foreverp. 231
Aftermathp. 243
Epiloguep. 247
Appendix: Jim Tanner's Itinerary, 1937-1939p. 255
Author's Note and Acknowledgmentsp. 257
Bibliographyp. 259
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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