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190 × 135 mm
184 pages
113 illustrations, 112 in colour
01 Sep 2017

Woodpecker Gerard Gorman

Woodpeckers are among the most remarkable birds in the avian world, having evolved a unique anatomy that enables them to peck and bore into solid timber both to find food and to create nesting cavities. They have been considered symbols of fertility, security, strength, power, prophecy, magic, rhythm, medicine and carpentry, and have been esteemed as the guardians of woodlands, tree surgeons, fire-bringers, weather forecasters and boat-builders.

Highly regarded woodpecker expert Gerard Gorman delves into the natural and cultural history of woodpeckers, presenting their natural, social and cultural history. He explores their origins and where they are found, and how they have fascinated humankind throughout history, from ancient Babylon, Greece and Rome, via the tribes of North America and the jungles of Amazonia and Borneo, to the modern cartoon rascal Woody Woodpecker. He describes how they feature in folk tales, myths and legends wherever they occur, and how their fluctuating relationship with humans has developed.

Featuring many stunning photographs and illustrations from both nature and culture, Woodpecker will appeal to anyone who is interested in these extraordinary birds.

‘Few things are as important in natural history as context. Reaktion’s magnificent Animal series seldom fails to reflect this, and Gerard Gorman’s contribution on woodpeckers maintains the series’s high standard. The diverse and widespread Picidae family is here placed with diligence and rigour in both its ecological and its cultural contexts . . . In exploring the birds' extraordinary anatomical adaptations and remarkable behaviours, Groman is clear, readable and evidently expert . . . The book’s many splendid illustrations supplement Gorman’s text well . . . Gorman and Reaktion should be applauded for a thorough and handsome primer on an underestimated bird.’ – TLS

‘an accessible and concise overview of this remarkable family, well illustrated and full of fascinating facts. There’s plenty on the cultural history of woodpeckers as well as the science of the subject, and interesting diversions into the debate on the existence or otherwise of the presumed extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker. A great addition to a great series of books.’ – Birdwatching

‘This monograph is one of a remarkable series of animal monographs . . . In this book Gerard Gorman covers the whole woodpecker group, including Wrynecks, Piculets and True Woodpeckers, looking at their natural and cultural history as well as their fascination for humans . . . A fascinating read.’ – BTO News

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Gerard Gorman is the author of Woodpeckers of the World (2014), Woodpeckers of Europe (2004) and The Black Woodpecker (2011). When not travelling the world in search of woodpeckers, he divides his time between Liverpool and Budapest.