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Imperial Dreams: Tracking the Imperial Woodpecker Through the Wild Sierra Madreby Tim Gallagher
Synopses & Reviews
Naturalist Tim Gallagher journeys deep into the savagely beautiful Sierra Madre, home to rich wildlife and other natural treasures — and also to Mexican drug cartels — in a dangerous quest to locate the rarest bird in the world — the possibly extinct Imperial Woodpecker, the largest of all carpinteros.
Explorer and noted bird expert Tim Gallagher is no stranger to the obsession for adventure. In the early 2000s, Gallagher rediscovered the legendary Ivory-billed Woodpecker — which most scientists believed had been extinct for sixty years — causing an international stir.
Now, in Imperial Dreams, Gallagher once again hits the trail, with a “natural treasure” map of sightings of the Imperial bestowed on him by a friend on his deathbed. Charged with continuing the quest of a line of distinguished naturalists, including the great Aldo Leopold, to find and protect the Imperial woodpecker in its last habitat, Gallagher ventures deep into isolated territory, the high pine forests of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental. In this mysterious, historically wild area, Geronimo led Apaches in their last stand and William Randolph Hearst inherited a storied ranch, which Pancho Villa looted. Today, drug lords rule the land.
Here in the Sierra, the giant Imperial’s pounding drumbeat once echoed like the blows of an ax through the Sierra as it bored into the massive, grub-infested pines, hammering on them powerfully for weeks at a time until they groaned, shuddered, and finally toppled with a thunderous impact that shook the ground. The bird had largely disappeared by the early 1950s, yet rumors of Imperial Woodpeckers flying through remote forests persist.
Gallagher’s quest takes a terrifying turn as he encounters armed drug traffickers, burning houses, and fleeing villagers. His passionate mission, now a life-and-death drama, will keep armchair adventurers on the edge of their seats as he chases truth in the most dangerous of habitats.
“The best birding book that’s been written in years” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“This engaging book draws readers in from page 1… A gem.” Booklist, Starred Review
Explorer and naturalist Tim Gallagher is obsessed with rare birds. A decade ago, Gallagher was one of the rediscoverers of the legendary ivory-billed woodpecker, which most scientists believed had been extinct for more than half a century — an event that caused an international stir. Now, in Imperial Dreams, Gallagher once again hits the trail, journeying deep into Mexicos savagely beautiful Sierra Madre Occidental, home to rich wildlife, as well as to Mexican drug cartels, in a perilous quest to locate the most elusive bird in the world — the imperial woodpecker, a giant among its clan.
The imperial woodpeckers trumpetlike calls and distinctive hammering on massive pines once echoed through the high forests. Two feet tall, with deep black plumage, a brilliant snow-white shield on its back, and a crimson crest, the imperial woodpecker had largely disappeared fifty years ago, though reports persist of the bird still flying through remote mountain stands. In an attempt to find and protect the imperial woodpecker in its last habitat, Gallagher is guided by a map of sightings of this natural treasure of the Sierra Madre, bestowed on him by a friend on his deathbed. Charged with continuing the quest of a line of distinguished naturalists, including the great Aldo Leopold, Gallagher treks through this mysterious, historically untamed and untamable territory. Here, where an ancient petroglyph of the imperial can still be found, Geronimo led Apaches in their last stand, William Randolph Hearst held a storied million-acre ranch, and Pancho Villa once roamed, today ruthless drug lords terrorize residents and steal and strip the land.
Gallagher's passionate quest takes a harrowing turn as he encounters armed drug traffickers, burning houses, and fleeing villagers. His mission becomes a life-and-death drama that will keep armchair adventurers enthralled as he chases truth in the most dangerous of habitats.
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