Oology and Ralph's talking eggs: bird conservation comes out of its shell.

Oology and Ralph's talking eggs: bird conservation comes out of its shell. Carrol L. Henderson.
Oology and Ralph's talking eggs: bird conservation comes out of its shell.

Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007. Octavo, colour illustrations, black and white illustrations, fine copy in dustwrapper.

In "Oology and Ralph's talking eggs", Carrol L. Henderson uses the vast egg collection of Ralph Handsaker, an Iowa farmer, as the starting point for a fascinating account of oology and its role in the origins of modern birdwatching, scientific ornithology, and bird conservation in North America. Henderson describes Handsaker's and other oologists' collecting activities, which included not only gathering bird eggs in the wild but also trading and purchasing eggs from collectors around the world. Henderson then spotlights sixty of the nearly five hundred bird species represented in the Handsaker collection, using them to tell the story of how birds such as the Snowy Egret, Greater Prairie Chicken, Atlantic Puffin, and Wood Duck have fared over the past hundred years or so since their eggs were gathered. Photos of the eggs and historical drawings and photos of the birds illustrate each species account. Henderson also links these bird histories to major milestones in bird conservation and bird protection laws in North America from 1875 to the present.

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