Oology and Ralph's Talking Eggs: Bird Conservation Comes Out of Its Shell

Carrol L. Henderson, Author . Univ. of Texas $29.95 (177p) ISBN 978-0-292-71451-9

When Iowa farmer Ralph Handsaker died in 1969, he left thousands of wild birds' eggs that he had gathered himself or obtained from oologists (egg collectors) around the world. In 2003, the author of this delightful little book went to see this remarkable collection, intact in Ralph's abandoned farmhouse, and he was inspired to tell the stories behind the eggs. First, he gives an account of how Ralph and other oologists gathered, preserved and labeled their finds, using illustrated bird cards and books to aid in identification and price lists to facilitate trading. Henderson then describes 60 of the bird species whose eggs are in Ralph's collection, from the ubiquitous house sparrow to the exotic scarlet ibis, noting especially the factors, such as chemicals, oil spills and loss of habitat, that have caused many species to decline. Henderson, who is an official with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, is devoted to the preservation of bird populations, and an important part of his book is a time line of the history of bird conservation in North America. An epilogue provides a satisfying conclusion: Ralph Handsaker's descendants have donated his egg collection to Yale's Peabody Museum. Color and b&w photos. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-292-77940-2
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