FARMINGTON – Phillip Hoose, author of the book, “The Race to Save the Lord God Bird,” will be the guest speaker at the Western Maine Audubon Society meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, in Thomas Auditorium, University of Maine at Farmington.

His presentation will include slides, readings from his book and a video made from the only motion picture film footage ever taken of the ivory-billed woodpecker, commonly referred to as the Lord God Bird.

The ivory-bill acquired the nickname because so many people who saw the huge woodpecker with its 3-foot wingspan streaking through the forest treetops were so awestruck by it that they often exclaimed, “Lord God, what a bird!”

The bird may be one of the most important birds in U.S. history. The big, boldly-patterned bird of deep Southern swamps was believed by Indians and whites alike to have mystical powers.

When the ivory-bill’s habitat, which had been shrinking under development pressures since the late 19th century, was in danger of being eradicated, three Cornell scientists teamed with the newly formed National Audubon Society to take a stand at a last giant remnant of forest owned by the Singer Sewing Machine Co.

The struggle to save the ivory-bill turned out to be an early conservation showdown in American history and a forerunner of modern conservation planning. When a small population of ivory-bills was later discovered in Cuba, it also became an object of cold-war politics.

The program is free and open to the public. Following the program, copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing by Hoose.

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