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A Stillness in the Pines: The Ecology of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (The Commonwealth Fund Book Program) Hardcover – January, 1992


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With this carefully reasoned brief for the protection of the red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered bird native to the pinewoods of the Southeastern U.S., biologist McFarlane combines ecology and activism. His approach makes the book a pleasing contrast to those technical treatments of the ecology of animals and plants that ignore human encroachment, as well as those picture books and essays long on sentiment but short on information about the reasons behind the conflicting needs of foresters and birds. Science, however, is difficult to present, and lay readers will have to wade through unfamiliar terminology ("desiccation-resistant," "tarsi," "homologous") and research reports. Yet the rewards are ample, for the author brings us closer to "viewinging the world from the perspective of a woodpecker" and successfully documents that the plight of the red-cockaded woodpecker is attributable to the Forest Service's failure to follow the mandates of the Endangered Species Act. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This commendable book tells the story of the decline of the red-cockaded woodpecker, a specialized inhabitant of mature Southeastern pine forests. McFarlane, a veteran professional ornithologist, is also a good writer with a fine sense of outrage and humor. Drawing from his research and that of many others, he engagingly summarizes the history of Southern forestry and lumbering, which, combined with the special requirements of these birds, threatens them with extinction. Along the way, the practices of several federal agencies, industry, and politicians come in for rigorous scrutiny. McFarlane also expertly describes the biology and life history of the red-cockaded and other woodpeckers. Complicating an already complex situation, in 1989 Hurricane Hugo devastated the habitat of the largest remaining population of these unique birds. A fascinating story, well told.
- Henry T. Armistead, Thomas Jefferson Univ. Lib., Philadelphia
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Commonwealth Fund Book Program
  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1 edition (January 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393030660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393030662
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,915,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
In the northern hemisphere subtropics, there are only two regions not largely mountainous – Southwest Asia and the American South. Neither is an ideal fit to the fundamental “ecological geography” that divides the planet into three regions: the extratropical northern and western hemispheres, the humid and subhumid tropics and Australian and Southern Africa. The American South is fundamentally a tectonically stable and unglaciated landscape with a humid and warm climate, in many ways akin to the Tropical World. The extremely fertile soils of the Mississippi Valley versus strongly leached soils to its east and west provides notable contrast in vegetation, economy and culture; however the strongly leached soils do not actually support classic “rainforest” vegetation like the humid subtropics of East Asia or Brazil do.

Rather, the typical vegetation of leached soils in the American South is pine or mixed pine/broadleaf forest which unlike Asia or South America is not fire-free, and this gives very different effects, some of which I may have noted in my discussion of the sympatric Sitta pusilla. Like the brown-headed nuthatch, the red-cockaded woodpecker is a relict cooperative species from a time before the huge ice sheets had condensed 300 million years of soil formation in the northern hemisphere into a fraction of this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
McFarlane's book is full of hard data and great stories. Very informative and highly readable. McFarlane's style, like Archie Carr's, is scientific, personable, and witty. Along with Lawrence Earley's "Looking for Longleaf," this book is one of the best on the longleaf ecosystem.
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