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The Grail Bird: The Rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Paperback – Bargain Price, April 18, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

As Tim Gallagher was working on his book The Grail Bird, he was among the first to sight the long-thought-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas, which led to a multi-million-dollar effort to confirm the sighting and protect the bird's dwindling habitat. The sighting changed the direction of the book, for which Gallagher won the Outdoor Writers Association of America's Best Book award for 2005. Gallagher is editor-in-chief of Living Bird magazine and of The Journal of the North American Falconers' Association.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061870941X
  • ASIN: B003BVK3L6
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,726,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Gallagher is an award-winning author, wildlife photographer, and magazine editor. He is editor-in-chief of LIVING BIRD, the flagship publication of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Tim got his first field guide at the age of eight, and he's been hooked on birds ever since. His lifelong interest in wilderness exploration has taken him twice to Greenland, where he made two open-boat voyages up the coast to study nesting seabirds and falcons, and to the hinterlands of Iceland, where he climbed lofty cliffs to learn more about the spectacular Gyrfalcon, the world's largest falcon.

Gallagher also spent several years traveling across the South, interviewing people who claimed to have seen the legendary Ivory-billed Woodpecker and following up on their sightings. On one of these journeys down a bayou in eastern Arkansas, he and Bobby Harrison had a close-up view of an Ivory-bill. This sighting quickly led to the largest search ever launched to find a rare bird.

More recently, Gallagher has been on the trail of the Imperial Woodpecker--a spectacular giant woodpecker (and closest relative of the Ivory-bill)--in the vast mesa pine forests of Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental. The last documented sighting of the species took place in 1956, and yet rumors persist among mountain villagers that the birds may still live on in the remotest reaches of this mighty mountain range. To find out if the rumors could possibly be true, author Tim Gallagher set out on a harrowing journey through the high country of the Sierra Madre--a vast, lawless region and now the epicenter of illegal drug growing in Mexico--which he chronicles in his latest book, IMPERIAL DREAMS. He is also the author of PARTS UNKNOWN, THE GRAIL BIRD, FALCON FEVER, and WILD BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By dougtmk2020 on April 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book back in November of 2006 and was fascinated from the first page. What could be more exciting than to be hot on the trail of something that the experts say no longer exists, armed with information that says it still does.

I'm reminded of the book "The Lost Grizzlies" by Rick Bass about the search to discover grizzly bears living in southern Colorado where they have been supposedly non-existent for years. A tuft of hair, a pile of scat but no pictures and no video.

I find the possibility of finding the Ivory Bill even more exciting than the search itself. Here's to the dreamers and hopefuls who keep the hunt alive. Whether searching for Ivory Bills in Arkansas, grizzlies in Colorado or bigfoot in the Bitteroot I applaud those undeterred spirits who fuel the fire of the search and help fill our shelves with stories of adventure and hope.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anna on October 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved the way the author brought to life the characters in this story! I could hear the accent of their southern dialect and experience the unique personality of each individual. I could hear the birds call, feel the frosty air, and hear the water slapping the sides of the boat as they made their way through the swamp in search of the ever elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The thing is that I was able to judge for myself how credible each sighting was and in the end I was compelled to go to the websites listed in the back of the book and hear what they had recorded as evidence that this bird still lives! I was amazed when they convinced me that indeed it does still exsist!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Sulzer on March 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Grail Bird is a wonderfully writen account of the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in 2004. The book is informative yet entertaining. Tim Gallagher gives you some background on the Ivory Bill and then takes you chronologically thru his experiences. The book is written so well I couldn't put it down.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John J. Hadam on June 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is very well written. As reviewed earlier, it's not just a book that birders will enjoy. Anyone with an interest in nature, the scope of human inquiry, and even relationships will enjoy this read. As a skeptic, it helped to balance my overall opinion and keep things in perspective without crossing over to the conspiracy theory, name-calling clique. There is no doubt that Gallagher et al. BELIEVE they saw an IBWO. I might even be convinced that there is a 50/50 chance that there are some still out there. But with the money and politics involved coupled with the professional egos at stake, we need a photo. The level of evidence does not merit a major article in "Science" magazine that lends creedence to their claims. Would their evidence be enough in the fields of molecular genetics, cell biology, or endocrinology? Ah, no. Is their evidence enough to write an interesting and entertaining book and to encourage birders to continue an earnest search? Absolutely. One final interesting thought..... It is interesting that the "Ivory Tower Ivory-bill Searchers" from Cornell kept their early work private to protect the bird from obnoxious birders invading the swamp when, in reality, they themselves act like...... obnoxious birders invading the swamp. Ain't it funny what a degree and a job title will let you do? It's a great book. Maybe I'll write one about searching for Bachman's Warblers at Congaree.........
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Moretti on September 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I just learned of the rediscovery of the ivory billed woodpecker from reading some back issues of WILDBIRD magazine. I immediately ordered this book and read it in two days....WOW what an exciting, riveting, fascinating, fun book this is...I love woodpeckers so I really hope this can be proven with a picture even though I am sure it exists already. On the website it says there are still no pictures to prove it and people are still searching. I hope they find it soon-What an amazing story!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Owl on January 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
Is the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker extinct or has it been re-discovered in an Arkansas bayou? In "The Grail Bird," Tim Gallagher takes us in 16 chapters on a journey through time and space. We hear of the days when the New World was like an Eden, thronging with life, including birds such as the prairie hen, the whooping crane, the passenger pigeon, and the ivory-billed woodpecker (Chapter 6, "A Paradise on Earth"). We walk with John James Audubon who shot and painted, then shot some more; with other shoot' em, paint 'em, and stuff 'em minded naturalists, learn about the heart-breaking habitat destruction, hear from the men and the woman who last saw, recorded, and photographed the Ivory-billed Woodpecker-----and we get up close and way too personal with a log-thick cotton-mouth moccasin.

Chapters include: Of People & Peckerwoods, Me & Bobby Rae; Jim & Nancy; Marry, Mary; White River Revisited; A Paradise on Earth; The Boxer; The LSU Connection; The Land of Dead Giants; A Bayou With a View; The Third Degree; Back to the Bayou; Where Sapsuckers Dare; Trying to Prove the Existence of a Ghost; Swamp Rats; the Lazarus Bird; and--for the 2006 edition, an Epilogue and Afterwood.

They tell the story of Gallagher, the long-time editor-in-chief of Living Bird, the esteemed journal of Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology, who started out to research all the recent sightings of the ivory-billed woodpecker (with or without proofs) and found much more. By about page 140 of this 265 page book, Gallagher has interviewed people who convince him they can tell as pileated from an ivory-billed woodpecker and that they have seen or heard the ivory-billed as recently as 2002.
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