Monday, January 20, 2014

Remembering Nancy

My Least Favorite Moment of 2013.

Before we move on, there was one deeply personally sad moment in 2013. The death of my long-time friend, Nancy Tanner. I wrote a book about her late husband Jim's search for the ivory-billed woodpecker in the late 1930s. 
I also wrote an article about Nancy and the last time she saw the fabled Ghost Birds for this month's issue of The Tennessee Conservationist. Here's an excerpt...

It was late December 1941. James T. “Jim” Tanner and his new bride Nancy were in the Singer Tract, a parcel of woodland that cradled the Tensas River in northeast Louisiana. 

The swampy, bottomland was familiar to ornithologist Jim, he had spent several years doing field research on the ivory-billed woodpecker while a doctorial candidate at Cornell University.

Only weeks after President Roosevelt proclaimed the “date that would live in infamy,” the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Jim wanted to see the elusive Ghost Birds one more time before entering the military. Nancy was with him and as it turned out, it would be the last time either Tanner saw an ivorybill, a bird that has been linked with the name Tanner ever since.

“Everybody has to be famous for something,” Nancy once told Knoxville News-Sentinel’s poplar columnist Sam Venable. Although at least three other people saw the same female ivorybill after Jim and Nancy did in late 1941, Nancy was the only one still living that could say I’ve seen the Ghost Bird, the only one with an universally accepted sighting...

For the rest of the article look for the January/February 2014 issue of The Tennessee Conservationist. 

For more about my remembrances, click Nancy.

For Sam Venable's remembrances, click You gotta to be famous for something.

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