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Long thought extinct, the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker may yet live: in 1999, the birding community was galvanized at the news of a sighting by a hunter in a Louisiana forest. A series of expeditions continue to search for the rare bird, and all seekers rely on this elegant treatise. Written by James Tanner as his doctoral thesis, it was published by the National Audubon Society in 1942, when a few of the species could still be found in the cypress and bottomland forests of the southern United States.
The book opens with a general description of the Ivory-bill, explaining how to distinguish it from its more commonly encountered cousin, the Pileated Woodpecker. It then plots the species original distribution pattern; tells the history of its disappearance and the story of its distribution as of 1940; discusses the population density and range of individual birds; food and feeding habits; daily routine in the non-nesting season; voice; reactions to human presence; roosting; reproductive and nesting habits; care of the young; and causes of nesting failure. In conclusion, the author outlines both a general and a specific program for conserving the species. An appendix covers nomenclature, related species, plumages, anatomy, and measurements, and lists the scientific names of birds, mammals, and reptiles mentioned in the text. A model of patient, exacting field research, this book offers fact-filled and engrossing reading for birders and other nature lovers.