Book Review: The Owl and the Woodpecker


OwlWoodpecker0950The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with North America’s Most Iconic Birds, by Paul Bannick, The Mountaineers Books (, 2008, 200 pages, $ 26.95.

Maybe I’ve spent too many years looking down, scanning the ground for wildlife (I am, after all, a herpetologist), but it wasn’t until photographer Paul Bannick’s The Owl and the Woodpecker that I realized how critical a keystone species woodpeckers are to their winged cousins. In much the same way ground squirrels interweave the earth with burrows that become superhighways and refugia for fellow ground-dwelling insects, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and even some birds (say, burrowing owls), so too does the woodpecker riddle the woods with cavities that become the tenements and penthouses for owls and an impressive array of woodland creatures.

Combining the best of both worlds, Bannick both shows and tells the rich natural histories of these two indicator species through well-researched…

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