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Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: August 11, 2004
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
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Genre:  Nonfiction / Nature
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Jo Rogers
Reviewer Notes:  

The Race to Save the Lord God Bird
By Phillip Hoose

      Mr. Hoose begins the story back in the days when this country was not settled. He tells the story of John James Audubon, who explored much of the South and became very interested in the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. However, it was only one of the birds he painted for his books. He introduced the Ivory-billed Woodpecker to everyone in America.

     The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is a most unusual bird. When we think of woodpeckers, most of us think of the red headed woodpecker, especially the cartoon character, Woody Woodpecker. This one, however, is black and white. The male has a red crest, while the female's crest is black. The male's crest curls toward his back, while hers curls forward. Both have white stripes extending from their heads down to their wings. The lower parts of their wings are white and when the wings are spread, the white band extends from one wing tip across the back to the tip of the other wing. They have a distinctive call, like the toot of a toy horn. The sound of their pecking is not the usual steady hammering of most woodpeckers. It has a two-note sound, the first softer than the last.

     The usual habitat of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker has been mostly destroyed. Yet, signs of the bird remain both in the United States and in Cuba. No one has seen the birds alive in many years. But are they still with us? That is the story told in this book. It reads like a mystery story with unanswered questions. It is a magnificent volume, complete with pictures, an extensive bibliography and references so that you can make your own search and reach your own conclusions. It also is a chronical of why we should care whether a species lives or dies. Whether you like birds or not, this is a book worth reading.