Woodpeckers of the World: The Complete Guide

A&C Black
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Woodpeckers remain one of the most popular families of birds, and they are certainly one of the more unusual. Their legendary ability to excavate holes in wood is well known, and they are uniquely adapted for living in trees - though a few species have become more adapted to ground-dwelling. The family ranges from the tiny piculets of tropical forests to the mighty Imperial Woodpecker of Mexico, sadly now extinct. In between there is a considerable variety of species, all of a roughly similar shape and design, inhabiting forests and woodlands through the world except Australasia and Antarctica.

Covering 239 species, this book is the first definitive photographic guide to woodpeckers. Detailed text looks in detail at the biology of the birds, with particular emphasis on field identification, along with voice, habitat, status, racial variation and distribution. The text is accompanied by a series of high-quality photographs – more than 750 images, carefully selected to highlight identification criteria. Each species entry is completed by an accurate colour range map.

A sister to Owls of the World in the Helm Photographic Guides series, Woodpeckers of the World is an informative, fact-filled and beautifully illustrated guide to a group beloved by all birders.
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About the author

by Gerard Gorman

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Additional Information

Publisher
A&C Black
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Published on
Jun 19, 2014
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781408147177
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Birdwatching Guides
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / Ornithology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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When a kayaker thought he spotted an ivory-billed woodpecker in 2004, the birding community took notice. Two birders traveled to the bayou where the sighting occurred, well aware that the last confirmed sighting of an ivory-bill had taken place over sixty years ago. Both men caught a glimpse of the bird, and a team began to search the surrounding swamplands. Even after long hours of surveillance and multiple sightings, the scientists cautiously refused to disclose their rediscovery of the extinct bird until they captured it on film. At last, armed with a short video and sound clip, they published their findings in Science, triggering a frenzy of media coverage and sparking a controversy among birders and scientists who continue to disagree about whether the bird really still exists.
In Stalking the Ghost Bird, Michael K. Steinberg engages the lengthy debate over the ivory-bill's status by examining the reported sightings and extensive efforts to find the rare bird in Louisiana. Louisiana has long been at the center of the ivory-bill's story. John James Audubon wrote about the bird and its habitat during his stay in St. Francisville, and scientists James Tanner and George Lowery studied the ivory-bill in Louisiana in the 1930s and 1940s. More recently, bird experts have conducted targeted searches in Louisiana. Steinberg discusses these and other scientific expeditions, and he catalogs reported ivory-bill sightings since the 1950s, using a detailed timeline that includes both dates and specific locations.
Interviews with conservation officials, ornithologists, and native Louisianans illuminate the ongoing controversy and explore why the ivory-bill, more than any other bird, arouses so much attention. Steinberg meets elderly residents of the Atchafalaya Basin who saw the ivory-bill while hunting in the 1930s and even ate the bird-which they called the "forest turkey"-during hard times. He paddles into Two O'Clock Bayou with one wildlife professor and travels to a cypress-filled wildlife refuge with the director of Louisiana's Nature Conservancy. His interviews illustrate how expert opinions vary, as well as how much local non-experts know.
Steinberg also explores in detail the human impact on both the ivory-bill and its bottomland forest habitat, explains how forest-management practices in the South may pose problems for an ivory-bill recovery, and outlines where future searches for the bird should take place. In this absorbing study, Steinberg turns his lifelong interest in the majestic ivory-billed woodpecker into a tale that encapsulates both the mystery and intrigue surrounding the legendary bird and our fascination with it.
“The Grail Bird is an enjoyable read . . . A powerful call for conservation, and an exciting bird adventure” (The Boston Globe).
 
What is it about the ivory-billed woodpecker? Why does this ghost of the southern swamps arouse such an obsessive level of passion in its devotees, who range from respected researchers to the flakiest Loch Ness monster fanatics and Elvis chasers?
 
Since the early twentieth century, scientists have been trying their best to prove that the ivory-bill is extinct. But every time they think they’ve finally closed the door, the bird makes an unexpected appearance.
 
To unravel the mystery, author Tim Gallagher heads south, deep into the eerie swamps and bayous of the vast Mississippi Delta, searching for people who claim to have seen this rarest of birds and following up—sometimes more than thirty years after the fact—on their sightings. What follows is his own Eureka moment with his buddy Bobby Harrison, a true son of the South from Alabama. A huge woodpecker flies in front of their canoe, and they both cry out, “Ivory-bill!” This sighting—the first time since 1944 that two qualified observers positively identify an ivory-billed woodpecker in the United States—quickly leads to the largest search ever launched to find a rare bird, as researchers fan out across the bayou, hoping to document the existence of this most iconic of birds.
 
“The Grail Bird is less an ecological study than a portrait of human obsession.” —The New York Times
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