Every time a good book on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker comes out, it renews one’s sense of lose and fear of future loses. My first book was Christopher Cokinos, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds in 2000; and then Tim Gallagher, The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in 2005: both wonderful books on the “Kints.” Why be drawn into buying a third book?
The answer is Stephen Lyn Bales’ Ghost Birds: Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, 1935-1941 is not a rehash, but a fresh approach with new details and areas of interest. It is as much about Southern history and ecology, and pioneering field research in ornithology as it is about the lost Woodpecker. It is about James T. Tanner who, without precedent, set a gold standard for such research. It is about pursuing a nobel project through sacrifice, disappointment, and dogged persistence, without regard for personal gain or comfort. It is also a great adventure story.
Given the history of our country, it was inevitable we would lose the Woodpecker; and fear should stalk all of us as we lose other bird species. If we are to save species it must be something every citizen is knowledgeable about, understands the costs, and accepts the sacrifices as necessary for maintaining our respect for life and the planet. We must understand it is a private concern of each citizen and a public concern at every level of business and government.
May I never hear I have seen a bird now lost to others. Charles Marlin