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The Travails of Two Woodpeckers: Ivory-Bills and Imperials Hardcover – May 16, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0826346643 ISBN-10: 0826346642

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (May 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826346642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826346643
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,899,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The long, sad story of the failure of efforts to prevent the extinction of two of nature's most impressive woodpeckers offers lessons for preventing the extinctions of other species.

About the Author

Noel F. R. Snyder is a retired field biologist formerly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and with Wildlife Preservation Trust International. He is an author of many books, including The Carolina Parakeet: Glimpses of a Vanished Bird, The California Condor: A Saga of Natural History and Conservation, Raptors of North America: Natural History and Conservation, The Parrots of Luquillo: Natural History and Conservation of the Puerto Rican Parrot, and Parrots: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 2000-2004.

David E. Brown is a research scientist affiliated with Arizona State University. His publications include The Grizzly in the Southwest, The Wolf in the Southwest, Arizona Game Birds, Arizona Wetlands and Waterfowl, and Borderland Jaguars.

Kevin B. Clark is a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who worked on the recovery of endangered species such as the California Gnatcatcher and California Least Tern and was regional recovery coordinator for the threatened Western Snowy Plover. He now works as a freelance biologist who conducts endangered species surveys and monitoring for government agencies and private companies.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Tupper on October 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This very handsomely produced book focuses almost exclusively on the history of the probable extinction of two of the world's most wonderful birds, but it is also a fine piece of background to the problems of identifying and sustaining all declining species. The authors give a detailed and dispassionate review of the most recent confirmed sightings, as well as rumored sightings and search attempts. I would recommend this book highly to anyone, in or out of academe, interested in the problem of human factors in species extinction.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am the guy described on page 88 who climbed the Imperial nesting tree and looked for evidence of any recent nesting activity. After making sure there had been no recent nesting there, I climbed up to the nesting hole with ropes, harness and chainsaw, intending to cut off the top portion of the tree and lower it gently to the ground by rope. However, I decided that was too hazardous a task because of the deteriorated condition of the wood at that level of the tree, with the likelihood of the section disintegrating, kicking back and throwing me out of the tree and to the ground. The alternative was to just let it fall, so we decided it would be better to crash the entire tree and pick up the significant pieces. We were able to gather essentially all of the pieces, and Dr. Hankins and his associates spent several years reassembling the tree section into nearly original condition. Only some pieces of exterior bark showed signs of scarring from the crash, and most of those could be colored back to original appearance. The picture on the front dustcover is a very close artist's rendition of this tree section after it was reconstructed.

The most discouraging aspect of the experience, from our perspective, was the absolute indifference of the natives in the area toward the bird as anything other than a source of pretty feathers or good eating,
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By game lover on October 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here is yet another book offering some new points of view about the causes of the ivory-billed woodpecker's decline and probable extinction. This one, however, also covers its similar but even larger cousin, the imperial woodpecker of the Mexican highlands. What a shame that, due to unenlightened environmental policies that failed to protect them, these two birds, arguably the most spectacular of all North American avifauna, have apparently vanished forever. The authors seem to insist on hard evidence and therefore do not seem to take any of the recent alleged sightings too seriously, yet have not totally discounted them either, and seem to entertain the hope that there is some chance, albeit very slim, that some may still survive. In fact, at the end of book is a chapter in which they speculate what the best strategies might be for protecting the birds in the event that a remnant population should eventually be found.

The authors examine the history of man's encounters with both species and theorize about how they lived back in the times when they still were plentiful. From this they try to extrapolate the root causes of both species' decline, and have come up with a few ideas that may seem rather unconventional. By way of example, they believe that indiscriminate hunting may have played as great a role (or greater) than did habitat destruction.

If, alas, the birds are indeed gone, one has to wonder what the point of all this speculation might be, other than an object lesson in what not to do when it comes to protecting endangered species.
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Format: Hardcover
THE TRAVAILS OF TWO WOODPECKERS: IVORY-BILLS & IMPERIALS is a top pick for any college-level library strong in natural history. Deserving of ongoing recommendation and selection, it comes from a team of biologists (Noel F.R. Snyder, David R. Brown, Kevin B. Clark) who examine how the extinction of these two birds offer lessons on conservation and human interactions with the environment. Human impacts on these birds' extinctions, especially hunting, offer different viewpoints on what leads to the demise of species and is key for any library strong in ecology or natural history issues.
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